Getting Lost in Gothic Prague
Founded around 885, Prague has been a center of commerce and trade in Europe for more than 1,000 years. Located in the Czech Republic, Prague is both the capital and largest city in the country, with an estimated population of more than 1 million.
Having survived the destruction and chaos of both World Wars relatively unscathed, Prague’s sprawling Gothic city center was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, with more than 4 million visitors in 2009 alone.
Situated on the Vltava River, Prague is an almost storybook city filled with magnificent cathedrals, stone bridges, gold accents, and red-topped roofs, and makes the perfect port of call for many river cruises.
Your River Cruise Ship Docks …
The Vltava River serves as your gateway to Prague. River cruise ships dock right near the center of Prague, and most locations are easily accessible on foot. On some river cruises, particularly on the Danube and Main, you may travel by bus as part of a pre- or post-cruise package.
You can use the Prague Metro to take you to some of the farther reaches of the city.
When in Prague …
Prague is a veritable paradise for history lovers and architecture buffs, and like many European cities, there truly is something for everyone here.
- No trip to Prague is complete without a visit to the historic Old Town square, with its imposing Tyn Church. Also located here is an impressive Orloj Astronomical Clock, showing planetary alignment along with the current time. The clock itself dates back to 1410. There are so many historic buildings, unique sites and interesting shops here that the Old Town should be the first location visited for those who have never been here before.
- Also on the must-see list is Prazsky Hrad, the Prague Castle. The world’s largest castle dates back to 870, though much of it was repaired after a devastating fire in 1541. The last major additions to the castle were completed in the late 1700s.
- Wenceslas Square is another popular area in Prague. The National Museum is located here, along with numerous shops, hotels, restaurants and offices. Historically, the square has been used for countless demonstrations, and played a major role in the Prague Uprising of 1945.
- At some point during your day in Prague, be sure to take a stroll across the picturesque Charles Bridge, also known as Karlův Most.
- Lovers of modern architecture will marvel at the Frank Gehry-designed “Dancing House,” a Dali-esque building in Prague’s Praha 2 district. Designed to resemble a pair of dancers, it has also been less fashionably referred to as “the drunk house” for its unique angles and odd, sloping profile.
- Prague also has an enormous Metronome that is worth seeing just for the sheer curiosity of it!
- Literature lovers may want to visit the Franz Kafka Museum. The famous writer is also buried here, and rests in the city’s New Jewish Cemetery.
- Finally, animal lovers may want to visit the Prague Zoo, which Forbes ranked as the world’s seventh-best zoo.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- The adopted currency of the Czech Republic is the Euro.
- While Wenceslas Square is quite fashionable during the day, it remains a popular area for prostitutes late at night, and resultingly a few travelers have been “relieved” of their money. The police have largely cracked down on this, though.
- Be careful when taking a taxi. Prices are often inflated, and drivers can be intimidating to tourists unfamiliar with the city. Try to hail cabs away from major tourist attractions, only take registered, licensed cabs and be sure to negotiate your fare before getting in.