The Saturday City: Prague

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 26th, 2008

Prague Tyr ChurchPrague has been the center of the Czech state for over 1100 years. It has a population of over one million, and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Since 1992, the historic center of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

My trip there in 2006 was the first stop on my continental Europe tour, and I couldn’t picture a more beautiful city to start in. I loved Prague so much that I extended my stay there. I just couldn’t get enough of it. It’s beautiful, it’s historic, and it’s cheap.

Prague was founded in the late 9th century and became the center of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled the Holy Roman Empire. The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of some of the areas that draw the most tourists today. Over the centuries, it became a major center for European Jewry, artists, and performers. After World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia and, in 1993, when Czechoslovakia split into two countries, Prague became the capital city of the Czech Republic.

Prague’s compact medieval center remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires in the shadow of a majestic 9th-century castle. The Jewish Quarter, one of the oldest parts of the city, is an amazing area that opens up a window into the city’s Jewish history. Prague had one of the biggest Jewish communities in the world before the Nazis came into power. Temples and graveyards here date back to the 12th century.

The Old Town square contains many historic churches, the astronomical clock, and a town center filled with cafes, tourist shops, and the occasional football (soccer) game. Cross the historic bridges, where you will find artists selling amazing art. I found paintings and works of art on the famous Charles Bridge that, if I had not been traveling, I would have scooped up in a second.

Once you cross the river, you can walk to Prague Castle. I thought the name was a bit of a misnomer, as it was more a fort and church than a classical castle. Nonetheless, it provides excellent views of the city and is filled with amazing architecture. Afterwards, head and see St. Vitus Cathedral, an amazing Baroque-style church.

Prague has become one of the most popular travel destinations in Central Europe, and millions of tourists visit the city every year. Though not as cheap as it used to be, the city is still amazingly cheap by Western standards. Beers cost a dollar, hostels cost 10 dollars a night, and food only a few dollars. Like anywhere, you can drop your bank account if you want to, but I managed to want for nothing and still only spend 20-25 dollars a day.

With so many cheap flights around Europe, this city sees a lot of weekend warriors who come in on Friday and leave on Monday. British males come especially for stag parties and wild weekends where they can get a lot of beer for their pound. The city has a definite party atmosphere, but it is easy to avoid and just enjoy the city’s historic and artistic past.

Prague is a can’t-miss stop for any tour through Europe. It’s so stupidly beautiful that it overloads your senses. Everywhere you go, you feel like you are walking in the 15th century. Prague is a city where my camera went into overtime.

comments 9 Comments

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

Tim Ramsey

I need to get back to Prague. Everyone loves it, but I have to admit that it ranked at the lower end of scale for me when I visited it while living in Germany and touring Europe. I think part of the problem was that I visited in late November and it was so damn cold that I just wanted to get inside and couldn’t really enjoy just wandering around. Next time I’ll go when the weather’s better and see what I think. (I did appreciate that it was cheap, though.)

One of my favorite cities too. Extraordinary place with a real zest for life.

Anthony

Cities to add for next trip: Salisbury, Prague… keep ‘em coming.

NomadicMatt

@theresa: I bet it was cold! I went in september and the weather was beautiful…though it did rain for 2 days…

@anthony: I have plenty!!!

Cuckoo

I agree with Anthony. :) Keep them coming.

Your Saturday posts are quite informative and detailed unlike my weekly affairs. :)

Really your Saturday posts are very much profitable.for my next trip i am sure it will help me.thanx for sharing an article.
As i remember that, when i was on the edge of Prague city from that time till the day when my trip was over it gave me alot memories.there are many tourist attractions.Perfect place for weekend trip

Michelle

Which hostels do you recommend in Prague?? I’m going in April for a few days and am trying to finalize the accommodation and plans.

Hi Michelle,

I happened to come across your comment and had a suggestion for you. I stayed at Hostel ELF in Prague in October. It was cheap, fun and there’s a bus to downtown directly outside the hostel! Hope that helps :)

Tiana

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