Beautiful and Crowded Prague
A 4 hour train journey from Bratislava, Prague was the next stop on my autumn European vacation. Prague is known as one of the great destinations of Central Europe because of the rich culture, architecture, music, and history. These days everyone wants to go to Prague and the crowds were abundant!
My hotel, the Unitas,was actually inexpensive despite the awesome location because it is offseason, was a few winding blocks away from the main Old Town Square (Stare Mesto), an amazing starting point on any self-guided walking tour.
However, I was starving and a little tipsy from my welcome cocktail at hotel check-in (oops!) so I grabbed some mediocre fare from one of the stands in Old Town Square and people-watched for a while. And by people-watched I mean that I stood off the the side, enthralled with the herds of tourists take sexy selfies, family photos headed for the Christmas card, and artistic shots lying on the cobblestones. There were so many people!
Eventually I ended up walking into Church of St. Nicholas as a concert was about to start. I quickly paid about 10 Euro to watch an opera/clarinet/cello performance.
The Church itself was beautiful. Since this is the beginning of my European vacation, I am not yet overwhelmed (and thereby bored) of seeing church interiors. However, it will happen, it always does.
I was happy to be sitting down so I enjoyed the classical music show. Those church pews are killer though, my butt fell asleep halfway through. After the concert I was able to experience Old Town Square at night. Prague might be even more impressive at night than on a lovely, sunny day.
Looking good, Prague!
On Day 2 in Prague, I took a free walking tour up to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Church. The tour was pretty great and led us through the massive castle complex while we were lectured on the history of Central Europe from the Middle Ages through WWII.
The crowds are at Prague Castle too but less so than in Old Town Square. Hanging out in the Castle Quarter was pretty fun and just as pretty as across the Vltava River.
Inside St. Vitus Church there are some neat stained glass windows done by a Czech artist in 1931 in an Art Nouveau style. The rest of the church is mostly Gothic style so it may look slightly original compared to the rest of the church. An art expert I am not. These were my favorite pair of windows in the church:
But it is the outside of St. Vitus is really the star of the show. However, it is near impossible to get the whole church in one photo. I managed one from far away but not up close, it was just too big.
About half of St. Vitus in the photo:
Besides the Castle and Old Town, the other must-do in Prague is a walk across the Charles Bridge. However, this is the most crowded and my least favorite thing in Prague. Throngs of tourists make walking across the bridge (night or day, I tried both) and experience in dodging and weaving.
Of course you still have to do it once but don’t expect anything romantic or even a pleasant experience. And I’m in Prague in the off season (end of October), can you imagine what summer is like. Eek!
My third and final full day in Prague I actually got out of Prague and traveled to Kutna Hora, which was the most interesting (and creepy!) place I visited in Europe this fall. More on that soon!
Reader Question: Have you ever been to Prague? What time of year? How were the crowds? Did you like Charles Bridge or Old Town Square more?