Thirty years ago, Prague was an obscure holiday destination, hiding in the far-flung reaches of Eastern Europe. Today, the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ has stepped out of the shadows of Communism and into the international travel limelight, attracting visitors with its Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
To truly admire Prague, you need to see it from an elevated perspective. On the 26th floor of Corinthia Prague Hotel, you’ll find a swimming pool, spa and gym, where you can combine an early morning swim or workout with sunrise views of the city.
After a dip, fuel up on Corinthia Prague’s buffet breakfast of fresh fruits, pastries, omelettes and pancakes.
Refreshed and ready for the day ahead, a 10-minute stroll from the hotel will take you to the 10th-century Vyšehrad fort, another great vantage point. High above the city you can see one of Prague’s oldest surviving buildings from the fortress: the Rotunda of St Martin, which was constructed during the 11th century. A thousand years ago, it served as the seat of the King of Bohemia; today, it’s the place to head for views of the Vltava river that flows beneath Prague’s many bridges.
From the Vyšehrad fort you also have a view of the Charles Bridge. According to local legend, Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, laid the first stone of the bridge at 5:31am on July 9, 1357. The date and time forms the palindrome 1357 9 7 531, which the king believed would protect the bridge from floods. Whether numerology had a hand in it or not, it has stood the test of time (and significant flooding).
After crossing the Charles Bridge, take a break in the Wallenstein Palace Gardens. The path towards the palace is lined with colourful tulips and statues of heroes from Greek mythology. Put your feet up, take in the scenery and listen to the gentle sounds of koi splashing in the pond. If you stick around long enough, you might even spot one of the resident peacocks.
Leave the palace gardens behind and climb the hill up to the Prague Castle complex to explore Golden Lane, also known as the ‘Street of Alchemists’. The tiny, colourful houses were once home to the city’s royal goldsmiths as well as world-renowned writer Franz Kafka, who lived with his sister for two years in house number 22.
The lane leads up to the magnificent St Vitus Cathedral. Along the outside wall of the Golden Portal is a detailed mosaic made of quartz and coloured glass. Menacing gargoyles cling to the exterior of the cathedral, protecting it from evil spirits, and the dramatic interior is intricately carved with Gothic motifs.
While heading back down to the Old Town, stop off in one of the open grass fields of Letná Park. In spring, you’ll find families and couples basking in the sunshine and enjoying a picnic. Though it may be tempting to linger, try not to stay for too long: there is much more of Prague to discover on the other side of the river.
In the streets of the Old Town, you really don’t need a map or a guide to explore – simply wander past the Baroque chateaux and 18th-century palaces. If your legs are weary from hiking up to the castle complex, you can survey the architecture from a tram instead.
In spring, keep an eye out for the city’s oases of calm: its secret gardens. One of the most spectacular can be found in the courtyard of the Panny Marie Sněžné, or Church of Our Lady of the Snows. Wind down the day with a brief moment of appreciation for the cherry blossoms before heading back to enjoy a well-deserved rest at the Corinthia Hotel Prague.
If this looks and sounds like your perfect day, start planning your city escape by booking a stay at the Corinthia Hotel Prague.