Prague is the best preserved Medieval city in Europe, with an entire city center listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. From the moment you arrive, you are instantly struck by the overwhelming Gothic architecture that seemingly has no end. Striking cathedrals, to world renown museums, to underground ice bars – Prague is truly a cultural gem in the very heart of Europe.
A Brief History
Founded around the 9th century, Prague developed into a significant trade center, strategically located at the crossroads of European trade routes. The city’s early prominence is evident in its stunning medieval architecture, including the iconic Prague Castle, founded in the 9th century.
During the 14th-century reign of Charles IV, Prague flourished as the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. This period of prosperity saw the construction of the Charles Bridge and the establishment of Charles University, making Prague a cultural and educational hub of Europe.
The Hussite Wars in the 15th century brought religious and political turmoil, but Prague rebounded as a center of Renaissance culture under the rule of the Habsburgs in the 16th century. The city’s unique blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture reflects this rich historical tapestry.
In the 20th century, Prague witnessed significant events, including the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and the Velvet Revolution in 1989, which peacefully ended decades of communist rule. The city played a pivotal role in the establishment of the independent Czech Republic in 1993.
Prague’s historic center, characterized by landmarks like the Old Town Square, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Astronomical Clock, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Today, Prague stands as a vibrant European capital, drawing millions of visitors with its captivating history, architectural marvels, and a unique blend of medieval charm and modern vitality.
Dating back to the 9th century, Prague castle is officially the largest castle in the world. Although you can’t actually tour much of the castle, as it’s still in use by government officials, you can marvel at the castle’s grand size, stroll the castle gardens, and visit the remarkable cathedral of St. Vitus on the castle mount.
Once the only crossing over the River Vltava connecting Prague Castle to the Old Town, Charles Bridge serves as one of the only surviving gated bridges in Europe. At night the bridge is a quiet place, but during the day it changes into a bustling venue with painters, owners of kiosks, and vendors alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.
Old Town Square
Prague’s old district is the hub of the historic city center, and where you’ll see its most visitors. Definitely a tourist trap, the Old Town Square is encased by some of Prague’s most incredible architecture. Besides its stunning Gothic architecture, the square is home to Prague’s Astronomical Clock, the world’s first.
A district of Prague near the Old Town which used to serve as the Jewish ghettos during WWII. Hitler gave orders for this quarter to remain intact because when the Jews were exterminated he wanted a “living museum” of an extinct race. The district houses the 13th century ‘New Old Synagogue’, which is the oldest surviving Gothic hall type of its kind.
Founded in 1140, the monastery is famous not only for its beautiful architecture and tranquil setting, but also for its magnificent library which contains books that are more than 1000 years old. Located just about a mile from the city center the monastery is easy to reach.
Cuisine in Prague
Czech food mostly consists of pork or beef with sauce and a side dish, the most common being dumplings. Dumplings are the Czech traditional side dish made from wheat or potato flour, boiled in water as a roll and then sliced served hot.
Goulash is another popular dish that consists of chicken, duck, turkey, fish, rabbit, and lamb.
No shortage of beer…
Czech beer is world famous and beer is served almost everywhere in Prague, even in breakfast cafés. Pilsner Urquell is the best known Czech beer. Brewed in the Czech town of Plzeň, this is the original Pils beer from which all golden beers the world over are derived.
Old Town (Staré Město) is the most popular place to stay if you’re a first-time visitor or short on time. The only downside to staying in this area are the crowds can be a little overwhelming at times.
Travelers on a budget may want to consider sacrificing location for other districts like Smichov, Vinohrady, or Karlin where your dollar will go much further.
Prague in 4K
Tour of Hohensalzburg Fortress
Prague Historic City
Jack’s Favorite Moment
Medieval Europe and the World’s Strongest Beer
Prague is the best preserved Medieval city in Europe with the entire city center listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. I was instantly struck by the overwhelming medieval Gothic architecture around every corner. Every street and little alleyway you walk down seems to lead to more incredible sights and sounds. Prague is a beautiful throwback to what Europe would have looked like in the Middle Ages.
The dramatic Gothic architecture and towering spires made me feel like I was in the Disney film Quasimodo; you know where he’s locked away in the centuries old cathedral tower overlooking the city. From stunning churches and cathedrals, to world class museums, to the ‘strongest beer in the world’, Prague is truly a city for history lovers and adventure seekers.
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Wander around the Old Town
Discover Prague Castle
Walk the Charles Bridge
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