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All Golden Roads Lead to Prague

Czech Republic, Praha
Von Jürgen Herda   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
GALLERY
The metropolis that lent its name to the Golden Road- Prague- is full. It is full of luxurious buildings around the huge Wenceslas Square in the new town to the majestic Hradschin, from Troja Palace with its zoo in the north to the Vyšehrad in the south of the town. It is full of life, light and energy. It has it all, and it is not without reason a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The experts still disagree though- should the renovation begin with the
Street Musician.
stone gothic facades or the baroque plasterwork? The only people who seem to agree on anything are the filmmakers. If the stage needs to be set in any period drama, at any time from the Middle Ages to the dawn of the modern era, Prague is top of the list. This town has the best-preserved scenery for all epochs and in the Barrandov film studios they have the necessary Hollywood know-how. Many people ‘know’ Prague- but so few have actually seen it. An estimated 20 million tourists each year are marched around the town, from Wenceslas Square to the Old Town, from the Charles Bridge and up the Coronation Street to the castle- with stops in over-expensive tourist traps. Join us on a tour that will take you a few steps off the beaten track but will offer you a new perspective on the town and cheap alternatives to the usual run-of-the-mill tourist restaurants.
Prague Stats- Seven hills surround the city through which Smetana’s celebrated Moldova river flows with its eight islands. 1.2 Million people live in Prague in over 100 tower blocks and residential areas on the edge of the town. There are 22 separate town councils, 57 districts and 146 parishes in an area of nearly 50,000 hectares. The thousands of pubs, bars and restaurants in the city give credence to the well known saying “V Praze je blaze” (You will always feel at home in Prague)

The starting point of our tour is the cable car in Újezd, 100m south of the Malostranské Náměstí.

The Petřin Viewing tower is the second stop on the list. It is a copy of the Eiffel Tower from the World Exhibition of 1891 in Paris and stands in the middle of a beer garden behind the old town walls on the Laurenziburg 327m above the town. Also atop this hill are the ‘Pavilion of Czech Ramblers’ with its curious maze of mirrors. At the top, 60m above the ground visitors have breathtaking views, with the massive Hradschin to the left and the golden dome of the National Theatre, the Moldova and the Višehrad to the right. This is the best overall view of the city and is a perfect way to start, before beginning the big march. (Petřinské sady, Praha 1 tel (00420-2) 257 320 112, www.pis.cz)

Along the old wall behind the tower the Strahovska road leads to the Abbey of the same name with the famous baroque library (open daily 9am-5pm www.strahovskyklaster.cz) and then on via the Loretanska to the courtyard of the Loreta Monastery with the church from Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. This beautiful pilgrimage church is open daily from 9am-12.15pm and 1-4.30pm (www.loreta.cz).

Walking past pretty arcades we approach the guards standing to attention in front of the wrought iron gates of the Hradschin Palace. In the courtyard there is a tourist information office. Here you can buy tickets for the highly recommended guided tours of the entire complex beyond the barrier that is blocking your path. (Tel. 224 371 111, www.hrad.cz April-October Tues-Sun 9pm-5pm, Nov-Mar 9pm-4pm)

As we pass the entrances to wonderful arcades…
Golden Snack Tips
Bohemia Bagel: For a quick and healthy snack before climbing Petřin hill opposite the cable car at Újezd 16.
Palfy Palác: A real palace for gourmets, the little terrace with a view of the castle and the top class Bohemian/French cuisine. Valdštejnská 14, Tel. 57 53 05 22
Hostinec U Kalicha: Good country cooking. Na Bojišti 12-14
Casa Blu: In the style of a Cuban student bar, the drinks are very reasonably priced, 8pm- 12pm, Kozí 15.

...we walk on towards the stony-faced guards in front of the Hradschin with its gold painted wrought iron gates. In the inner courtyard there is a tourist information stand where they sell tickets for the tour around the complex. This is not just advisable but necessary, as there are barriers blocking the entrance to the golden alleys beyond.

After this take the street down the steep hill Nerudova (Named after Jan Neruda- who provided Pablo Neruda, the Chilean writer with his pseudonym), past numerous restaurants, consulates and embassies until you reach the Malostranské Náměstí/ (Malostranské Square) where the majestic baroque church of St Nikolaus stands. This is one of the many churches of the Dientzenhofer family, and contains the fresco ‘The Adoration of St Nikolaus’ which is certainly worth a few minutes of your time.

Scurrilous: The Sex Machine Museum, Melantrichova 18.
Nightlife of the New Bohemians:
Národní divadlo: The golden architecture of the National Theatre is not the only reason the opera productions shine. Ostrovní 1
Magic Lantern: the first multimedia project in the history of theatre. Národní třída 4 www.laterna.cz
Reduta: One of the best-known jazz clubs in Prague. Národní třída 20.
Rock Café: Amateur Czech bands make you screamlike a teenager. Národní třída 20
Lávka: Top club with a terrace next to the Charles Bridge, novotného lávka 1, 9pm-5am

The next station on the list, or ‘Příští zastávka’ as the announcer says on the metro, is the Charles Bridge (Karlův most). This 10m wide and 520m long bridge is both start and finish line on the Golden Road. It was built in 1357 by Peter Parler under order of Charles IV and in 1657 and 1714 baroque statues were added flanking the monument to Saint Nepomuk, whom King Wenceslas IV had had drowned in the Moldova. Opposite, through the old drawbridge gate the old town awaits with it’s little streets and alleys weaving and twisting through to the Old Town Ring (Staroměstské Náměstí), and opens out onto the town hall square (from 1338) where the astronomical clock attracts hundreds of tourists every hour on the hour, where the 12 Apostles have been playing their glockenspiel day in, day out since 1410.


If the weather is good, take the lift to the top of the Town Hall Tower, where the views of the Old Town, the Teyn Church and further afield are worth the squeeze. The town hall also houses the Tourist Information Offices (Pražka Informační Služba) (Staroměstské Náměstí 1, tel 124 44, www.prague-info.cz). Beyond the second St Nikolaus Church by Dientzenhofer the grand Pařízka Avenue stretches out through what used to be the Jewish Quarter, most of which was torn down in the 19th Century. Kaiser Joseph II made his name with the ratification of a Patent of Tolerance in 1781, and the Joseph Quarter was named in his honour. Here in the Jewish Museum it is possible to buy a ticket for the Jewish Cemetery and the Synagogue. The ticket isn’t cheap, but worth the time and money as the Jewish community uses the income to finance the restoration and maintenance of all the buildings in their care.

Back on Paris Street walk along the Moldova over the Bílkova, turn left into the Dušní and then right into U Milosrdných to the Convent of St Agnes where wonderful exhibitions take place regularly.

Just beyond the parking lot (a little-known tip) go through the Rasovka into the Revoluční where you will see on your right hand side the Obecní dům (House of Representatives), one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the city, next to the Powder Tower.

After a well-earned rest take a look in the windows of the expensive boutiques in the Na přikope. You can ask your reflection in the shop windows just what it is that they are selling, and then wander on up to Wenceslas Square. It isn’t the most pretty of places, with swathes of modernism seemingly thrown willy-nilly into the fray, but it was here that Vaclav Havel managed to topple the rotten regime in 1989 with his hundreds of thousands of supporters.
Prague from the skies.

At the top of the square, itself under the proud gaze of the statue of Saint Wenceslas on his horse, stands the National Museum (Národní muzeum). This neo-renaissance building was based on the Louvre in Paris. It is here that the Czechs celebrate their scientists and academics.
There once was a hard-working man from the South of Germany who set off to Prague to make his fortune. Now this son of a craftsman is the proud owner of three very different and very individual hotels: Miss Sophie’s: a designer hostel in Melounová 3 with fresh and funky appartments (www.misssophies.com)
Czech Inn: a high standard internet hostel with cool double rooms in the Francouzska 76. (www.czech-inn.com)
Sir Toby’s: this classic for backpackers, designed my Matthias Schwender in a fusion of old-fashioned and Celtic influences in Dělnická 24(www.sirtobys.com). (Multi-bed rooms from €10 per night, Double Rooms from €50)
Residence Mala Strana: A good hotel with reasonably priced rooms in the Lesser Quarter (double room €80) Mělnická 9.
Hotel Europa: the nostalgic hotel on Wenceslas Square. Prices are seasonal so check online. (info:www.europa.cz)



This Article is part of the tour "The Golden Road"
Travel
 

 

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