If you want to walk into a fairy tale, then Prague is the city for you. With stunning sights of the castle, cathedrals, the cobblestoned paths, the beautifully decorated buildings, winding streets & alleys and picturesque bridges; you’re basically walking into a dream.
I guess the only downside to this fairy tale dream like city is the number of tourists even during the off season (If there even is one in Prague)- you will find yourself trapped in the hustle and bustle regularly so be prepared.
Things to do and see: My personal favourites!
- Definitely join a free walking tour which will give you a backstory to the buildings and history of the city and its people- Lots of defenestration (throwing people out of windows) at one time.
- Walk, walk and walk some more until you get a little lost, and then walk a little further. Prague is quite small so you will always find your way back to a main tourist attraction. (Carry a map just in case if you’re not confident and just remember which side the river is to you)
- Walk along the Charles Bridge just after sunset when everything looks purple and misty or just before sunrise- and then avoid the bridge altogether for the rest of your trip as it is ridiculously busy with tourists
- Walk around the old town and marvel at the clock but don’t wait for the hour to see it move… it’s very underwhelming
- Visit the Jewish museum. Specifically, the Pinkas Synagogue. (Further details below- See General Experience)
- Check out the Jewish quarter and then walk along Manesuv Most (the bridge by the Rudolfinum) for a less crowded route to the castle and for an excellent view of Charles Bridge
- Read the quotes on the John Lennon wall- it will make you smile
- Find the random statues around the city: Franz Kafka’s statue, David Cerny’s Crawling Babies, and my favourite “The Broken Men” by Olbram Zoubek which is a memorial to the victims of Communism. (There’s also a hanging Sigmund Freud which can be unnerving if you didn’t know about it as it is high up and looks like a suicide attempt, and an amusing one called “Piss”, the statues actually urinate into a Czech shaped basin…)
Things to eat and drink:
- Traditional Czech food is pretty stodgy, we’re talking meat, pickled cabbage and their version of dumplings but definitely check it out.
- Trdelnik- Originally Hungarian but I personally feel that they do it better in Prague. It’s a sweet cake/pastry that’s wrapped around a massive rolling pin that’s then baked over coals and then dipped in sugar and a walnut mix. You can have it with ice-cream in the middle with fruits and even Nutella. It’s pretty delicious.
- Choco Café; now this place is amazing. It has an array of fresh cakes and the hot chocolate is so thick it’s served with a spoon.
- Drink the beers. It’s Prague. No explanation needed.
One of the best parts of my trip to Prague has to be my visit to the Pinkas Synagogue in the Jewish area of the city. Inside this building are some breathtaking drawings created by children who were deported to Terezìn Ghetto during WWII.
The paintings and drawings tell the story of the children’s lives; from before entering the ghetto, daily chores within the ghetto, day to day ghetto life and drawings of their emotions.
The classes were organised by a lady named Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, a painter amongst other things, who tried her best to maintain supplies to continue the classes in a time when Jewish people were only allowed to shop at certain stores at an allocated time.
The classes were a form of Art therapy for the children… Unfortunately, Dicker-Brandeis was eventually deported to Auschwitz, but before deportation she filled two suitcases with 4,500 of the children’s pictures and hid them away. These pictures were then later recovered after the war and given to the Jewish Museum in Prague. Dicker-Brandeis didn’t manage to leave Auschwitz but she did leave 4,500 of the greatest gifts to history.
The vast majority of the Terezìn children were also sent to Auschwitz to face certain death and only a few managed to survive; these pictures are not only hauntingly beautiful but they are the remnants of a history so many forget and they are all that are left to commemorate the children's lives.
Prague has been spectacular but it has definitely left me questioning…
What will we contribute to history? What will we be remembered for?