If you’re on the lookout for a gem of a city, then Prague is truly a diamond. Throughout its 1,100 year history, the capital of the Czech Republic has seen tyrants, emperors, artists, and scientists, and it wears those stories proudly in its numerous attractions and sites. If you’ve booked yourself a room at a hotel or resort, here are the top three spots to be sure to check out during your stay.
This spot was once home to the kings of Bohemia, and is currently the site of the rarely seen Czech Crown Jewels. It is the biggest ancient castle on Earth, and its history goes all the way back to 870 AD. The still-standing Balisca of Saint George was built in the 950s, and remains the oldest surviving church in the Republic. It was the residence of various members of the Hapsburg royal family, including Ferdinand I and Rudolph II, and has been the seat of the Head of State since the country gained its independence. Due to the long time period between construction of the various buildings, the resort contains examples of nearly every architectural style that was popular over the last 1,000 years.
Map Direction: http://g.co/maps/9ggs2
Josefov, The Jewish Quarter
|Josefov, The Jewish Quarter|
This small section of Prague was formerly a ghetto for the Jewish residents, but was believed to have first been settled in the 10th century. The famous scholar Maharal was rumored to have created the Golem in these streets; while the animate clay being never existed, you can visit the good Rabbi’s grave at the Old Cemetery. This spot contains 12 layers of tombs, as it was in use for over 300 years. While most settlements of this type were destroyed during World War II, the Josefov escaped that fate. It contains six synagogues which date from all the way back to the 1400s, as well as several museums. The Quarter is the birthplace of famed writer Franz Kafka.
Map Direction: http://g.co/maps/7xvxp
Prague Astronomical Clock
|Prague Astronomical Clock – Photo by flickr/jay8085|
Forget your diamond or quartz watch movements; a truly impressive timepiece can be found in the Old Town Square. Also called the Orloj, it’s the oldest still-working astronomical clock in the world. The oldest component, including the dial mechanism, was constructed in 1410. Over many decades the piece was decorated, with a facade added and sculptures placed around it. The piece keeps track of the current time in Prague, as well as having representative points for the sun and moon’s movements through the sky and the current zodiac sign. The four figures which flank it represent Vanity, Greed, Death, and Pleasure, and are sparked to life by the clock striking the hour; they function similarly to a technologically marvelous (if a tad morbid) cuckoo.