Prague is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited! I might sound exaggerating here, but the moment I got a glimpse of the city through the shuttle service window, my jaw dropped and I knew in an instant that Prague is a perfect honeymoon destination! It is literally aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, that even after months, I could still remember how majestic it is.
This is the first part of a 5-entry post about my visit to the capital of the Czech Republic (CZ). The small country in central Europe, (okay, I’ll try to make it short) historically consists of the regions of Silesia, Bohemia, and Moravia. In the 1500s, it went under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy, along with Austria and Hungary. Just like the Philippines, Czech Republic was greatly affected by the World Wars. Germany seized the land, but in 1945, the US and the Soviet took over. It was under communism the succeeding years, and in 1989, Czechoslovakia gained independence through the so-called Velvet Revolution. The two countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia, got separated in 1993. CZ joined NATO in 1999, and the EU in 2004. If you want to read more about the long and colorful history of CZ, visit: Czech Republic.
Well, at least I learned from my travel that the word bohemian has its roots there. 😛
It was spring when I went to Prague, and boy, had I experienced all the European weather in one day! Hale and snow and rain and wind and sun and clouds.. Despite its location, which is south of Denmark, the weather was cold in general. (haha) But that didn’t stop me from exploring the city, and even going out of the center to a nearby region to visit two very interesting churches.
I was kind of broke, like most of the travelers I’ve met, so I stayed in a cozy hostel called the Old Prague House, in a dormitory for girls. It was my first time to stay in a hostel, and it wasn’t bad at all! The hostel was small, but it has lots of good reviews, the staff very friendly, and the breakfast buffet generous! I’d definitely stay there again if I happen to visit Prague on a budget.
By the way, I had the impression that the Czechs were kind of protective of their independence and freedom now more than ever, and the tour guide confirmed it. I tried to ask people for directions when I got lost on my way to the Palace, and nobody paid attention to me until I said “Ahoy” as a means of saying hi. 🙂
So, on my first day in beautiful Prague, I made friends with other travelers staying in the hostel – an Italian, a Chinese, a Filipina, a Spanish and a Japanese. And of course, my Czech friend who’s based in Berlin also happened to be in Prague during my visit. I met Tomas in Copenhagen and we visited Christiansborg Slot, and it’s amazing to know we share the same birth date. Recently, he got married and they had their honeymoon in the Philippines. How cool is that?
Aside from the historical and cultural background, I also wanted to visit Prague to personally experience the hometown of one of my favorite authors, Milan Kundera. He wrote beautiful masterpieces like The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. I highly recommend those books filled quotable passages. 😀
The Old Prague House is in close proximity to almost all attractions in the city. So the moment I arrived, I visited many landmarks, most which I will write about in the next entries. Two of the famous attractions are the Kranner’s Fountain and the Dancing House. My little aspiring-to-be-an-architect sister reminded me to go and visit the Dancing House, as it is a prized building in the world of architecture.
Prague is known as “the city of a hundred spires”, which was based on the count of the 19-century mathematician Bernard Bolzano. At present, the count has gone to 500! There are plenty of structures in neo-gothic style, such as the Kranner’s Fountain placed on the coast of the Vltava River, which separates the city into two. The fountain “was intended as a homage to the Habsburg monarchy, there is a bronze equestrian statue of Emperor Francis II. inside. Around Francis are some statues that represent the allegorical figures of 16 Bohemian regions. The 22 metres high monument stands in a small park and public fountain is at the pedestal of the monument.” (Source: www.waymarking.com)
Not far from Kranner’s Fountain is the Dancing House, or Fred and Ginger. Built in 1996, the modern structure stands out from the Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings in the Old Town. We managed to go up the building, but we had to enter a fancy restaurant in order to get a panoramic view of the city. However, my Italian friend and I decided not to stay, because it was late and we wanted to see the Old Town Square.
Gahhhh… I have lots to say. 😀 I’m excited to write about the Old Town, the New Town, Charles Bridge, and of course, Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral! More about Prague and my little trip there in my next posts. ❤ , ❤ Prague! See you!