If you haven't jumped on the Prague bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for?! This capital city of the Czech Republic offers all the best things about a European adventure, but without the hefty price tag. Here's why you should book a trip to this Bohemian gem right now!
Prague emerged from World War II largely unscathed by bombing damage (minus a 1945 bombing that was intended for Dresden) and boasts a beautifully preserved Old Town quarter. The oldest working astronomical clock in the world can be found at the Old Town City Hall, adjacent to the square, and every hour since 1410, it has paraded a procession of mechanical, sculpted Apostles to the delight of passersby and tourists. Nearby the thirteenth-century Church of Our Lady before Týn towers gracefully over the statue of Jan Hus in the Old Town Square. Simply walking the streets of Prague is enough to question whether you're in reality or fantasy.
Step aside, Paris, because Prague is the city of love. From cobblestone streets to majestic bridges over the beautiful Vltava River and from green city parks to the fairy-tale castle of Pražský hrad sitting high above the city, Prague exudes romance. Its architecture lends itself to any mood: the gothic spires and dark interiors of St. Vitus evoke the broodier side of love; the white neoclassical residences lighten the mood and draw comparison with the luxurious streets of Vienna; the baroque opulence of St. Nicholas Church and the Goltz-Kinský Palace reflect the impulsive, generous side of lovers; and the myriad of different architecture coexisting in one city ensures that no matter your mood, Prague will satisfy it.
3. It's AFFORDABLE.
Europe has a reputation of discouraging budget travelers. While it's true that your money will go farther in South America, Africa, and Asia, Prague is one of those rare places in Europe that has all the Old World Charm without the hefty price tag. We were able to afford a 4.5/5 star hotel on the Vltava River for less than the price of a three star hotel in Manhattan. Winning! Admission to attractions and museums run anywhere from 10-40% cheaper than London, Rome, and Paris. Beer is cheap and delicious, and their traditional food is savory and affordable. And speaking of beer...
Prague's beer deserves a category of its own. While Germany may have the reputation as the beer capital of the world, the Czech Republic is actually the number one beer-drinking nation in the world. To put it in perspective, Austrians and Germans drink 107.8 and 106.1 liters of beer per capita, respectively; Czechs drink 148.6 liters per capita. The competition isn't even close. The Czech Republic invented the Pils beer, and their Pilsner-Urquell can be found flowing through the taps of every bar in Prague. So grab yourself a seat at one of Prague's many quintessential squares and enjoy some people-watching over the top of a frothy glass of pivo.
5. It's got a lot of character.
Despite a growing reputation as a party city (cheap flights and the cheap booze make it a popular destination for bachelor(ette) parties), the large number of churches, museums, and cultural attractions makes this "city of a hundred spires" a cultural hot-spot. The St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle is a must-see; climb its tower's 297 steps for stunning views of the city. But there's more to Prague Castle than the cathedral - an extensive armory, a row of quaint shops and houses, of which one was the residence of Franz Kafka for a short period of time, and covered portion of the castle wall. Find the crossbowman to try your hand at operating this medieval weaponry!
Ok, so the whole city isn't a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it certainly seems like it! The Old Town, the Lesser Town, and the New Town -- it's "new" only in relation to the Old Town, which dates from the ninth century, whereas New Town was founded in 1348 -- all comprise the Historic Centre of Prague. The Charles Bridge has linked these areas together since 1357 and is itself a masterful example of architecture. The Charles Bridge acquired its name from Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, who himself laid the first stone of the bridge at 5:31am on the 9th of July 1357. The precise timing of this event is documented due to the Emperor's strong belief in numerology, as this date makes a numerical bridge of its own (1357 9 7 531 - year, day, month, time). Be sure to spout off this fun fact the next time someone tells you numbers aren't cool!
7. It's a great segue into Eastern Europe.
Thanks to the ravages of communism's fifty-year reign, many Westerners are still hesitant to venture into the former East Bloc of Europe. Don't be. But even if you are, Prague is a great first step due to its historical ties with the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Let her beautiful streets and historic buildings coax you from your western European safety blanket and out into less traveled destinations. Venture onward and eastward to Budapest or Sofia!
|Linking up with A Brit and a Southerner for the #WeekendWanderlust!|