One of the most beautiful things about Prague is that the centre is so huge you can be walking for hours on and still pretty much be at the centre of the city. Whether you’re just strolling through cobbled streets and alleyways soaking in all the breath-taking architecture around you. Manically gobbling down a gelato melting in the summer heat. Or are on a mission for that perfect 1836 edition of your favourite poetry collection from one of Prague’s finest second hand book shops, you’ll enjoy the city no end. To make your holiday even more memorable, I’ve picked 5 very unique, special streets that you must not forget to visit when you’re in Prague.
The most expensive street in Prague. Also one of the most beautiful boulevard style streets in the city, which absolutely lives up to its oh so Parisian name. Today you can find it’s lined with boutiques and designer stores where one handbag costs nothing short of an arm and a leg. Maybe even two or three of each. Hermes, Cartier, Dior, Versace, Chloe, Rolex. You name it. Parizska has it. Despite its bright and upscale looks, this broad street located in the heart of Prague 1 has not always looked this neat. Until the very early 1900’s, this particular street was part of the old Jewish ghetto. The streets were narrow, crooked, reminiscent of dank and sorrowful Middle Ages.
The government decided that the ghetto, as well as many other parts of Prague, were not on par with the rest of the city in terms of sanitation. The sewage system was poor, the water was often contaminated, the houses full of mildew, mould and rot. The city council was (and you can’t even blame them) very fearful of a potential epidemic spreading from the heart of the ghetto to the rest of the city. So they made the decision to knock it down. A large part of Josefov (the Jewish ghetto) was torn down and rebuilt during that time. From the dust and rubble of the Jewish town, a beautiful, brand spanking new Parisian boulevard only for the richest of the richest was born.
This narrow but ever so cosy alleyway is situated just a pebble throw away from the Prague Castle. For its convenient location you may have guessed that it was founded as a home for those who used to serve and work in the Castle back in the olden days. It was a convenient distance for servants. Yet it was far enough into the nature and just on a bank of the river Brusnice for them to be able to grow their own vegetable and milk their own cows. Locals used to house many an important visitors to the country, one of them being even Tycho de Brahe himself!
This quaint alley has never lost its charm. And during the turn of the century it became home of many famous personalities of this country. There you could find homes of obscene artists, cheeky photography studios, dreamy musicians and actors, but also a local pub and a cafe. The houses are ever so tiny and the windows drop as low as the cobbles in the street. They say you used to be able to stroll through and watch artists creating magic through these low spacious windows! Even today you can appreciate the magical ambiance of the alley and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in its only cafe.
Or the Golden Lane, as you can find in tourist pamphlets today, was originally built in the 16th century to house the castle guards of the emperor Rudolf II. The lane didn’t look the way it does today though. It was dark, with rotting wooden annexes to the little stone houses. The guards as well as soldiers used to live in the smallest rooms, often not being able to afford anything else.
During one of the sanitation cleanses in the early 1900’s the wooden annexes were removed. And in 1950’s the houses were painted bright colours to create an even cosier feel to the lane. That was done to attract tourists but gave the lane its picturesque looks nonetheless. From one of the poorest parts of the city it shot up the the most beautiful quaint lanes. As a reminder of what the lane used to be, there’s still a dungeon tower at the very end of it. Have a peek inside and remind yourself that the colours of these little houses are just covering up a tremendous amount of poverty and grub from the 16th and 17th century.
U Stareho Hrbitova
A street that connects the synagogues and the Jewish cemetery. It’s not particularly long, particularly crooked or particularly beautiful. Don’t you worry though. I wouldn’t be telling you about this little street if there was no special charm to it. And boy, what a charm this street does have! Every day but Saturday you can find dozens of small stalls lining the street. The vendors are selling Jewish souvenirs and memorabilia. From books on Jewish traditions to skull caps, Menorah candle holders and kosher salt. This little market is usually absolutely rammed with tourists. But if you come in the early hours of the day you can enjoy a quiet stroll past the stalls all the way to the Old New Synagogue and the old Jewish cemetery. It is certainly a very touristy place but with a lot of magic nonetheless.
One of the best known streets in Prague, especially for its touristy charm. Many locals have written this beautiful street off solely for crowds of loud and obnoxious tourists pouring from the Prague Castle down to the city centre. I think that’s terribly silly though. You don’t need to follow the crowds and you can absolutely adore the street in its own beauty either very early in the morning or in the evening just before sunset, when the crowds are very much gone. The street’s named after one of the most prolific Czech poets Jan Neruda. And is lined with the most gorgeous and colourful town houses. Pretty much each and every of these town houses has a unique name to it. At two suns’, At seven cockroaches’, At the green lobster’s, At three fiddles’. And more! Each comes with a unique heart-warming story of people who used to live there. Many of these town houses have been turned into hotels. Don’t hesitate and have a browse on the internet to see which rooms are available. I totally recommend this street for your stay, it’s in such a convenient location and oh so stunning!