Like many people, Prague was a city I had long dreamt of visiting. It doesn’t have any recognizable global icon like the Empire State Building in New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And yet Prague, the city as a whole, is its own global icon. And that’s exactly why I had always wanted to visit.
It was one of the most crowded places I have ever visited
While I had heard from people that Prague is mobbed with tourists, they weren’t exaggerating. Thanks to its narrow medieval streets, the city’s Old Town is beset with visitors from every land imaginable, and it seemed like most locals refrained from hanging out in the Old Town Square for good reason. Every hour the famous Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square goes off and you would think monetary prizes were being given away for how many people were queuing up. (I wasn’t overly impressed with the performance, much preferring seeing the Glockenspiel go off in Munich’s Marienplatz.) And the walk to Charles Bridge as well as the bridge itself is anything but pleasant. Forget about getting a clear shot of the bridge; your shot will include dozens of people save for taking it in the early morning hours.
It’s a wonderful city to simply wander in
Before the trip, I had signed up for a walk with Discover Walks of the city’s Old Town area for our first day there. Although I would heavily use my guidebook during my time in Prague, having a local guide provide us with the background history on certain sites as well as sharing other tidbits was a lovely welcome to the city. Instead of having my nose periodically immersed in a book, I could simply listen and look. Marketa was a wonderful guide and the 90 minutes we spent with her on our walking tour made me all the more excited for the rest of my time in her beautiful city. It’s also the type of city that always has something for you to look at whether it’s looking down at the 27 white crosses of the executed 27 leaders who led a rebellion against Emperor Matthias that can be found in front of the Old Town City Hall or looking up at the Hebrew Clock on top of the Jewish Town Hall that runs counterclockwise.
It’s like Disneyworld for a history nerd
If you’re into history, you will simply adore being in Prague. Whether it’s medieval, royal, World War II, or Communist related, there’s literally something for every history nerd’s pleasure. I loved hearing on our tour how during World War II, the infamous Nazi leader in charge of Prague, Reinhard Heydrich, ordered that the statue of musical great Felix Mendelssohn be taken down from atop the Rudolfnium (a great musical hall) because he was Jewish. They accidentally removed the statue of Richard Wagner instead (Wagner was idolized by the Nazis). Apparently Heydrich never found out. This was also the first time I had visited a former Communist country. Considering that I was alive when the Czech Republic was still under Communist rule, I found it incredibly chilling just imagining how things once were. As our food tour guide described it -when the shelves were bare, when there was one spot to get ice cream, when you didn’t have tourists from all over the world coming here to visit.
Doing your research is vital
In the weeks leading up to my trip I did a ton of research in terms of places to eat, making plans of attack for visiting popular attractions, etc. This definitely was helpful because in a city as touristy as Prague, you want to have memorable meals and also not waste precious time standing in long lines because you arrived when a place is most busy.
It was a photographer’s dream and delight
Although I’ve been to many places where I couldn’t stop snapping away with my camera (Charleston, Lisbon), Prague really took my breath away. I loved seeing the many different architectural styles all over the city, I loved the multitude of colors found on the buildings (I didn’t think the Czech Republic would be like this), and I loved that the city scenes never grew old. If anything, they always were more inspiring.
Even with the sheer number of people found on every corner, Prague did not disappoint in the least. Stay tuned for many more Prague related posts in the coming weeks!
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary tour by Discover Walks but as always all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.