Although I was born in the Czech Republic I’ve never lived in Prague (apart from spending two summer holidays there but that doesn’t officially count as ‘living’ there). This means that coming to Prague for a holiday makes it a whole new experience even for a Czecho like me. Everything is wow and oh my god did you see that, and that’s so Czech! Now I’m sure you already know that a holiday in Prague means a lot of cheap beer, a lot of pub dinners and a lot of sightseeing which are good enough reasons to visit Prague as it is. But let me present you with another 8 reasons which you definitely didn’t expect!
I’m not talking palaces for sightseeing here, oh no. If you’re feeling fancy you can actually stay in a palace instead of your regular hotel. Shaun & I stayed in the Bretfeld Palace in Neruda Street which was right in the very city centre of Prague. The palace was built in 1765 and the social events held there were visited by Mozart and Casanova, how crazy is that! The living room still had some of the original frescos on the walls too! You probably think we must have spent a fortune on the hotel – well let me reassure you that it was more affordable than your average Travelodge!
There’s more than a handful of beautiful gardens in the Prague city centre – the Wallenstein Gardens are rather exceptional though. Now housing the Senate of the Czech Republic, these gardens date back to the 17th century. Here you will find bronze sculptures dotted around the gardens, a couple of ponds and fountains with koi fish and the grotto. The grotto is an artificial wall of black stalactites (which at first you might assume is just an immense amount of pigeon poop, ehm). The grotto is apparently a symbol of the passing of time and when you look closely you can see distorted faces, animals and monsters hidden in the black mass.
A number of very famous composers come from Prague – Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek for instance. Not only that there’s a National Opera House in Prague, there’s also a stunning historical National Theatre there which often holds opera evenings. The building itself is absolutely stunning – especially considering that it was built solely from public collection in 1883 after the original theatre which was built only 2 years earlier burnt down. If you’re afraid that you won’t understand the performance for it’s in Czech, don’t you worry – they provide you with subtitles in both English and German!
If you’re a fan of everything vintage then Prague is your city. You can buy vinyls, books, posters, postcards, photographs – anything you can think of really – in local antique shops for as little as a couple of quid.
This probably confuses you, right? No, there’s no sea in Prague. What we do have there though is a big-ass river. It’s called Moldau and runs through most of Bohemia. Because of its size you can find a few islands on it, how cool is that?! The islands are not particularly large. The Strelecky Island, which is the one we visited, is only 750 meters long and 140 meters wide. The island is basically a large park which in summer hosts a festival. In winter you can have your dinner in a small restaurant there. What’s especially beautiful though is the view from the island. You can see the infamous Charles Bridge from an angle which not many tourists are familiar with!
You would think that this would happen to you only in Amsterdam, wouldn’t you? Well, you would be wrong chuck! Prague is famous for its absinthe, Bohemian lifestyle and free spirit. Which also means a couple of pretty strange museums, one of them being the Museum of Sex. It’s just as crazy as the Amsterdam one. But to go a little further you can even watch some vintage porn there. Because – why wouldn’t you sit in a retro cinema full of tourists and watch some old-school action, right?
If you’re British and you happen to miss home whilst in Prague you can visit the John Lennon Wall. It has been in Prague since the 1980s when Czech people started expressing their grief over John Lennon’s death in the form of street art. Not far from the Lennon Wall you can also find a John Lennon pub which is filled to the roof with various Beatles memorabilia including a traditional red phone box!
Many foreigners are not aware that Prague used to have a large Jewish community. Franz Kafka and Rabbi Lowe amongst many others because famous all over the world! Apart from visiting various Judaism and Jewish-community themed museums you can also visit the Old Jewish Cemetery in Joseph Town which has tombstones dating back to the 1430s. Although the cemetery is in the very centre of Prague and covers a very small area it has about 12,000 tombstones. Because the graves are layered it is expected that there are in fact more than 100,000 graves in 12 layers.