Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited! Stunning modern and traditional architectural contrasts, historical castles and bridges and squares, easy access to attractions, and cheap food and drinks and transportation. I was literally awed the first time I visited in 2015. Perhaps it was the late winter weather, or the castle at night, or the people I met during the stay. This year, I sat foot on Prague again, and although it seemed to be the same fairytale-ish city, some things had changed.
07:35 AM Breakfast at Hotel Colloseum
We woke up pretty early on the second day of our summer adventure. The plan for the day was to explore as much of the city, and to start with the Petrin Hill. I missed the sight on my first visit, so I wouldn’t miss it this time! Petrin hill was mentioned in the book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by one of my favorite authors: Milan Kundera, so I was really excited to be there. One could take funicular up and down the hill, or just walk through the winding path. And on the hill are several attractions, like an observatory, a mirror museum, a church and the Petrin Observation Tower.
08:30 AM City stroll towards Petrin Funicular Railway (Sight of the Dancing House, the Jirásek Bridge crossing River Vltava, Malostranská vodárna and the Nostalgic Museum)
It would be exciting to take the funicular, we’ve thought. So we headed towards the station located at Ujezd street, Lesser Town (Mala Strana). No pre-booking required, and if you go there pretty early, the lines would still be bearable. On the way, we passed by the Dancing House, a pretty prominent modern landmark nicknamed “Fred and Ginger” and was built from 1994-1996.
Like any other river city, Prague has got many bridges crossing the River Vltava. The most famous is the Gothic Charles Bridge. Fun fact: “Charles IV laid the first stone of this famous monument at 5.31 am on July 9, 1357. The notoriously superstitious king was into astrology and numerology, and chose this date because of its written form: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1 (year, day, month, time).” Interestingly, we didn’t have the chance to cross Charles Bridge, but we did cross the Jirásek Bridge on the way to Petrin Hill, and the Manes Bridge on the way back to the Old Town.
Crossing the Jirásek Bridge, we saw interesting architectural designs of buildings on the Lesser Town, including the Malostranská vodárna. I couldn’t find comprehensible information about the said high building, but here’s a photo of it:
We, then, trodded towards the Ujezd street, where the tram/funicular awaits! But before getting there, we took some beverages in one of the nice cafes on the way, and even passed by the Nostalgic Museum. I wonder what’s in there, but the museum does look familiar…. hehe (corny joke)
10:00 AM Riding the funicular up the Petrin Hill
10 minutes before 10 AM, we arrived at the ticket station for the funicular railway. There were groups of children (probably having their fieldtrip) and Spanish/Italian tourists with us. One-way ticket costs 24 czk and is valid for 30 minutes, and you can also use it for other public transpo modes like buses, trams and metros.
The funicular runs every 10 minutes in summer, and every 15 minutes in winter. For detailed schedule, see here. There is a stop before the top of the hill, where the Nebozizek Restaurant is located. We didn’t stop by to try that resto though. Read about the interesting history of the funicular railway here.
10:05 AM Petrin Hills’ attractions: Observatory, Mirror Musem, St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Petrin Observation Tower
After 5 minutes on the funicular, we found ourselves on top! The first attraction that appeared before us was the Observatory. It didn’t seem to be open, so we didn’t come very near it and decided to just enjoy the rose garden instead. Then, we walked towards the Mirror Museum. It wasn’t worth it! It was just a small hall of mirrors, that was it. But the group of children seemed to enjoy it though.
There was construction or renovation going on, so some roads were closed. We reached St. Lawrence Catholic Church, with a pretty salmon pink facade (if I remember correctly!) and the Observation Tower by following road signs, put basically to avoid the construction sites. The Petrin Observation Tower was built in 1891 as a mini-version of the Eiffel Tower. It is 60 meters in height, but since it sits on top of a 318m high hill, it still offers magnificent views of Prague and even further. Husband and I decided not to climb the tower, sadly, but he promised to take me to the summit of the Eiffel Tower, so all’s well that ended well.
11:18 AM Prague Castle Complex
We decided to walk going down Petrin Hill, and we passed by a nice park, some old walls/fortification, a monastery, a beer garden, and a huge church with a library. Once again, we were at the Lesser Town, where throngs of tourists tried to find their way across cobbled streets. “Where do we go next” was a famous line on our part, and so with a resounding “Prague Castle!”, we followed the streets leading there.
It didn’t take too long before we reached the Castle Complex! Husband was obviously getting tired by then, so we sat for a while below the statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), founder and first President of Czechoslovakia. Then, we walked towards the edge of the hill to admire the city and .. the Petrin Hill where we were a an hour ago!
Stunning, eh? And there was another stunning thing right inside the Castle Complex: the largest and most important church in the country, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague — the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral! I was super excited to show the church to my husband, that we went right towards the castle entrance. BUT we were stopped by signs pointing towards a smaller entrance to the left. When I visited Prague in 2015, there was lesser security, unlike today when visitors are asked to have their stuff checked and their body scanned. It wasn’t a very tedious prosess though, and we found ourselves inside the complex after only a few minutes.
12:10 Walk towards the Old Town
After gazing upon the wondrous works of the human hand at the Prague Castle Complex, we headed back towards the old town to get som “late” lunch. Told my husband we should take Charles Bridge, but he didn’t really like the huge crowd there at the moment. I think the best time to get a photo on the bridge is like.. 5am or 11pm. 😀 I wrote an entry about my first experience of the bridge here though.
So, we took the Manes Bridge instead, named after the Czech painter Josef Mánes (1820-1871). Right after crossing the said bridge, we saw what we thought was an interesting art installation only. As it turned out, it was the Jan Pallach Memorial – a memorial to the suicide of a Czech student, Jan Pallach, in 1969, protesting the Soviet invasion. The structures were called The House of the Suicide (representing Jan Pallach), and the House of the Mother of the Suicide (representing Jan Pallach’s mother).
12:30 PM Prague Old Town
Okay.. we originally planned to find a place to eat lunch here, but things didn’t go the way they should. Too many people, too little space. The Astronomical Clock was being renovated, so husband didn’t get to see and hear it play. Nothing much has changed, I supposed, except that it was summer, so more people? We were getting really tired (and me grumpy, esp when hungry), so we just headed back to the hotel to rest. On the way, I took a few shots of the river with the Castle on the other side, of the Legion Bridge which sits between Charles and Jerasik bridges, of the theater, and of the colorful buildings lining the bank of the river. In summer, there were water activities so it might be worthwhile to try for those who enjoy them.
13:35 PM Lunch at Česká Myslíkova restaurace
When in Prague, it is good to try some traditional Czech cuisine. For lunch, I had some traditional beef fillet with cream sauce and dumplings! Czech bread dumplings are locally known as houskový knedlík, and it’s super soft, although it has some stale bread cubes in it. The first time I went to Prague, I went to Kutna Hora and had lunch in a tavern restaurant called Dačický. There, I had my first bread dumplings. It was only one time, but for some reason, I craved for it two years later. I’d probably crave for it if I visit Czech Republic again!
Just note that tips are very much appreciated, if not demanded in Prague. It was kind of annoying sometimes, actually when waiters come back to you again and again to remind you that service fee is not included in the price. Ya so? What if I’m not satisfied with the service then? haha, but I’m not mean like that, so I just handed some tip and the waiter was happy. Everybody happy!
There. One day filled with beautiful Prague moments! Husband and I are not really night owls, so we just stayed in the hotel the rest of the day, went out for some pizza at around 8pm, and that was it. It’s like we have a quota of staying outdoors, which is really good since we are compatible with that. Besides, we still need to rest after the long travel day the day before. 😉