Praha (Prague) - Tour of town

Prague. The settlement of Prague and its surroundings was continuous from the early Palaeolithic until the Latenian period. With the arrival of the Celts, oppida began to appear, which were centres of settlement, administration, cults, manufacture, trade and also served as fortified strongholds. There is a school of thought that states that it was the Celtic Boj tribe that provided the basis for the name Bohemia. In the second half of the sixth century the first Slavonic tribes arrived. In the ninth century the ruling Přemyslid dynasty moved their family seat, thereby laying the foundation stone to this place with the role of the seat of the princely and later the Royal Czech lands. Prague is an important urban monument reservation. The historic core, 866 hectares in size, encompasses the unique city ensemble of the Prague Castle and Hradčany, Malá Strana (Lesser Side) including Karlův most (Charles Bridge), Staré Město (Old Town) with Josefov (the preserved section of the former Jewish Town), Nové Město (New Town), Vyšehrad and each of the monuments within these areas. It was inscribed in the UNESCO List in 1992.

A tour of the city takes us along the Královská cesta (Royal Way), and this walk will take, if we do not stop on the way to look inside buildings, about two hours. We go from the Prašná brána (Powder Tower) and on to Celetná Street, passing by by the Dům u Černé matky Boží (House of the Black Madonna), and continue under the windows of noble houses such as Menhartovský dům, the dům U Tří králů (House of the Three Kings) and the Carreto-Millesimovský palace. We soon arrive at Staroměstské náměstí with the torso of the Old Town Hall, the townhouses and the Statue of Jan Hus. We walk past U Minuty and onto Malé náměstí and from there to Karlova Street to the Klementinum and Karlův most (Charles Bridge). We walk through the Staroměstská mostecká tower and leave on the other side thorough the Malostranská tower. After walking along Mostecká Street we arrive at Malostranské náměstí with its Church of St. Mikuláš. We continue along Nerudova Street to the Prague Castle viewing point, where the Královská cesta/Royal Way comes to an end.

The Old Town Hall offers year-round tours in the form of a Large Town Hall Tour with a guide. This includes the halls, chapels, cellars and the tower, from where there is an excellent view of Prague. The greatest attraction, however, is the Astronomical Clock, which shows the position of the heavenly bodies, a calendar, moving figures and a procession of the twelve apostles every hour.

The Staroměstská mostecká tower is considered to be one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe. It was built at the same time as Charles Bridge by Peter Parléř. You will find it at the entrance to Charles Bridge from Karlova Street. Inside there is an 18 minute film entitled Charles Bridge – A Ray of Light Through the Centuries, the Astronomical and Astrological Contexts Behind it.

The Malostranské mostecké towers are in reality two towers, different in style and of different heights, connected by a gate and creating an entrance to Charles Bridge on the left, Malá strana, side of the Vltava from Mostecká Street. Inside there is an exhibition entitled „On the Bridge about the Bridge” which maps the historically interesting points in the bridge's history, the floods, the figures of Bradač and the original sword of Bruncvík, and other similar tales.

The Church of St. Mikuláš, also known as the Cathedral of St. Mikuláš, is a baroque building on Malostranské náměstí dating from 1704–1755. In the past the tower was used by town criers who would announce any fires or approaching enemies. Today there is an exhibition here called 'The Bells of Prague' which is a presentation of the surrounding towers and their bells, the history of campanology and bell-making and legends associated with bells.

The Powder Tower (Prašná brána) is a late Gothic structure on the corner of Na Příkopech and náměstí Republiky. Inside the tower there is a permanent exhibition entitled "Králův dvůr/The King's Court", which is a portrait of life in medieval Prague. The first floor is a cross-section of the history of the city, and the second floor is dedicated to the history of the Powder Tower itself. On the third floor there is an exhibition of enlarged reproductions of illuminations from the Václav IV bible.

The Petřín tower, over 60 metres in height, is one of the dominant features of the city. In the basement there is a permanent exhibition entitled “Jára Cimrman – A Genius whose fame was never celebrated“. The nearby Mirror Labyrinth is a popular place for family visits with children, and within the labyrinth there is a panorama depicting the “Battle with the Swedes on Charles Bridge” by the Liebscher Brothers.

The Dominican monastery was built in the 17th century by the Church of St. Jiljí (St. Giles), which is on the site of the original 13th century church. To the present day we can admire its mighty walls and characteristic windows, and the interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes by Václav Vavřinec Reiner, and sculptures, paintings, altars and other works of art by leading Prague artists.

Prague Castle, the seat of Princes, Kings, Emperors and Presidents, is also the symbol of the city. It is possible to look around by yourself and the tour includes for example the Old Royal Palace, an exhibition on the story of the Prague Castle, the Prague Castle picture gallery, the Basilica of St. Jiří, the Jiřský monastery, the National Gallery, the Golden Street, Dalibor's Tower, Prašná and Mihulka, the Richter villa and the St. Václav winery.

Vyšehrad is an important historical bulwark above the right bank of the Vltava. Originally a princely castle in the second half of the 10th century, over the centuries it grew into an extensive complex, which includes the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the cemetery for prominent Czech personalities at Slavín, the Basilica of St. Vavřinec, the Rotunda of St. Martin and the Vyšehrad gardens.