Old Town, Prague

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Staré Město

The 12th century Charles Bridge, a link between Old Town and Lesser Town, is so popular there are occasionally people-to-people pileups from one end to the other. For that reason, it’s best enjoyed at sunrise when you’re sure to meet canvas- or camera-wielding artists at work.

Arguably the city’s most famous attraction is the much-touted Astronomical Clock Tower. Crowds gather at the top of each hour in anticipation of its rotating rings, moving figures and chiming bells. Though the finale may underwhelm you, the artistry—and the fact that it’s survived Prague’s violent history—makes it worthy of attention.

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Dabble Savvy

365 traditional Czech names are carved onto the outer ring of the lower face. Czech natives celebrate their Name Day with small gifts such as chocolates or flowers.

A Guide to Old Town Prague

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Featuring prominently in Old Town Square is the bronze Art Nouveau fountain, a memorial to protestant reformer, Jan Hus. In the background, the shell-pink Kinsky Palace where Czech native Franz Kafka attended prep school.

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While people watching often takes precedence over sightseeing in Prague’s busy main square, Staromestské Námestí is home to a number of worthy sites. The imposing Gothic construction of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn (Tyn Church) with its not-quite-identical towers dominates Prague’s Old Town Square.

Shop

Hit the shops in nearby Ungelt Square which has a branch of contemporary glassware store Material as well as Botanicus, a Czech institution for lotions and potions. Nearby Dlouh Street is one of my favourite shopping destinations.

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Eat

Toasty warm, this traditional Slovakian treat (trdelnik) is dusted with cinnamon, sugar and nuts. Look for open stalls or bakeries selling this perfect late afternoon pick-me-up.

Passersby are tempted by the cinnamon sweetness of trdelnik, a traditional pastry made daily in bakeries across the city.

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Stay

Four Seasons (Veleslav.nova 2A). If perfection is desired, look no further than this renowned chain where the setting, service and amenities are unsurpassed. Book an evening meal at Allegro to enjoy riverside views and the award-winning cuisine.

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Kimberley takes time out from filming to pose before heading out with CityTV’s CityLine cameraman Patrick Reynolds on the unusual seven-seater bike.

Architecture in New Town, Prague

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Nové Město

 

Architecture enthusiasts are sure to enjoy a trip to Prague, where they’ll find Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Art Nouveau, Cubist and Communist style buildings on display. New Town is ideal location to start the tour.

Cubism

I realize the word unique is grossly overused, but how else to describe a style of architecture that can be found in only one place on earth? In the 20th century, Czech architects and designers expanded the lessons of Picasso and Braque into architecture and decorative arts. While academia is divided on whether or not this style actually exists, we can contemplate its merits at the House of the Black Madonna Dum u Cerné matky boží. Originally constructed as a department store in 1912, its namesake statue is still firmly affixed behind the golden grill at the corner of this New Town destination.

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Art Nouveau

Follow the signs to Republic Square Námestí Republiky and the magnificent Art Nouveau Municipal House Obecní dum (above) is easy to spot. The landmark building, dating from 1905, is capped by a distinctive half-domed roof and intricate mosaics. Inside, there are murals from Prague’s most famous painters including Alfons Mucha whose style is instantly recognizable.

Dabble Savvy

While there is a dedicated Alfons Mucha Museum, it’s out of the way and strictly for those who love his work. Instead, wander into the public areas of Municipal House to see the Art Nouveau painter’s legacy.

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Neo-Classicism

Behind its lyrical green facade is the smallest of the city’s opera houses. With only 600 seats, albeit clad in luxurious blue velvet, The Estates Theatre (above) is a symbol of Prague’s artistic heritage. This New Town theatre is most famous as the venue where Mozart first performed his “Don Giovanni” in 1787.

 

Books and Beer in Prague

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A short walk from Schwartzenberg Palace is the Strahov Monastery. While it’s still an operating basilica, the real attractions here are more earthly—books and beer. The gawk-worthy Theological Library dates from the 17th century and contains more than 200,000 volumes housed in an elaborately stuccoed and ceilinged room.

Check opening times—like many Prague Castle attractions, the Theological Library is closed from 11:45am–1pm.

Eat

Strahov Monastic Brewery serves simple Czech fare and, according to beer snobs, a heavenly brew. Take a seat on the patio or in the newly renovated restaurant.

Shop

The Library gift shop has lovely crystal paperweights and fine stationery to take home.