5 things I loved about Prague
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, especially amongst stag do's and it was for this reason that I went to the Czech capital with about 20 other brown guys. Whilst Prague is used to bachelor parties, turns out, it isn't so used to brown people. Not that I had any trouble out there, but it was a weekend full of curious looks.
Unlike most other large cities on the European mainland, Prague escaped much of the fighting that destroyed other cities during the two world wars, and therefore it retains a lot of its historic architecture. Beautiful buildings from different periods in different styles that tell the story of the growth of this city, from a small settlement into the large metropolis that it is today.
There's a lot to love about this city, and here are my 5 favourite things about Prague.
5. Rooftop bars
The first thing I noticed about the city centre was just how different it looks from most other capital cities I have been to. All the buildings just seem to fit together even though they have different architectural styles from Baroque to Gothic to Romanesque. Its one of the most varied collection of architectural styles in the world.
The best way to see this is from one of the many rooftop bars in the city. The views give you an appreciation of the design of the modern city of Prague but also how it has retained its history. Unlike most other large cities in Europe, there aren't too many tall, glass skyscrapers, instead its a mix of styles that complement each other and give this city a feel of something very genuine.
4. Prague at night
There is something special about Prague at night. Much like Barcelona's Gothic Quarter, the city transports you to a medieval period at night, with dimly lit streets, old buildings and narrow alleyways.
The laughter from the many bars, people spilling out onto the street and the crowds in the Old Square feel almost surreal under a moonlit sky.
Walking through the Old Town under a full moon gave it an added haunted feel and if I didn't stop to check my phone, I could swear I had gone back 500 years in time.
3. Prague astronomical clock
...and talking about time, how can I not mention the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. Built in 1410, the Orloj faces the Tyn Church onto the main square. The clock is composed of three main components; the dial, representing the position of the sun and the moon in the sky, the 'walk of the Apostles' an hourly show involving the Apostles and the figure of Death striking the time and a calendar dial representing the months.
Its the detail in the construction that is most breathtaking and its hard to believe you are looking at something that was built during the time when Guru Nanak had begun preaching his message, thousands of miles to the East.
2. Powder Tower
This was something I really liked because it was entirely unexpected. Walking around on a Saturday morning, a little worse for wear, we stumbled across the Powder Tower, another building from the 15th century built in a Gothic Style. The Tower was actually one of 13 city gates when it was first built and was used a decorative entrance to the city unlike its later use.
The Tower got its name as it was used to store gunpowder in the 17th century and the tall black Gate stands in contrast to the lighter coloured buildings of even height that surround it. The Powder Tower suffered a fair amount of damage during the German Civil Wars when the Prussians and Austrians battled for control of the city but it was refurbished in 1876.
1. Tyn Church
Just look at it. It almost looks like it belongs in a Disney movie, how can this be anything but first.
Prague is known as the City of a hundred spires and it feels like half of them are on this Church. The Tyn Church (Church of our Lady before Tyn) is an impressive 14th century Gothic Church with spires that rise up to 80 metres. The only shame is that the perimeter of the building is completely built up so you can't really get a view of more of the building than just the Spires, and this is especially true from the Square itself.
However, what you can see is absolutely incredible. Its been the dominant feature of the city since the 14th Century and it continues to be the dominant feature of the city in the present day.
I was only in Prague for a long weekend, and that weekend happened to be a stag do, so I didn't get to see as much of the city as perhaps I would have liked to in different circumstances. I enjoyed what I did see and the nights out were fun too. Although I wouldn't rank it as highly as Amsterdam, Barcelona or Madrid for its nightlife, it was still relatively cheap and a good experience.
One of my favourite memories was a segway ride through the city that took us across Charles Bridge and from the Old Town through to the New Town.
The ride took us through the Jewish Quarter, the John Lennon wall and the National Theatre which is an absolutely beautiful building.
Is there anything on the list you didn't enjoy or anything that I have left out? Have you visited Prague Castle? Leave me a comment or Tweet me @travellingsingh
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British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.