This is a follow-up post for my last week’s “First impressions of Prague.”
After eyeing Prague’s castle in the distance while we explored Old Town on our first day, we crossed the Charles bridge on our second day and made our way to it. Up a steep hill and through a series of cobblestoned streets, we found the other side of the Charles bridge–the Hradčany neighborhood–as charming as the Old Town side (and just as “old;” how did they distinguish between the two?)
The Prague Castle is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic, like the White House. It was built in the ninth century and is considered the largest ancient castle in the world.
Unlike the White House, tourists are allowed to walk the grounds and look at all the beautiful architecture. The entrance is especially dramatic.
After taking photos for a few minutes of the statue on the right, my husband asked to see the camera. He laughed and said that when he visited Prague 10 years ago he had been taken with the statue on the left and had 20 photos of it. Which one speaks more to you? They’re both emotional, violent and mythical.
After crossing through the courtyard, we found St. Vitus Cathedral and marveled at its many, many gargoyles. Nearly every point you see jutting out of the building in the photo below is actually a gargoyle with an individual face and personality.
We took in the sunshine and let the majesty of the buildings wash over us.
We also took in the Franz Kafka Museum while in the neighborhood, which I did not photograph. It was very dark inside and serious (not for kids!), but definitely worth the visit for an English major like me. Although Kafka’s life was short, he was present for the Czech Republic’s most formative period–passing just before World War II.
The exhibits were so heavy that we had to stop for some light strawberry dumplings after to regroup. They were dusted in powdered sugar and sitting in some melted butter and lemon. How do you say “delicious” in Czech?
While sampling another round of Czech beers, I had to take a photo of the way the bill is calculated. This pub gives each table a piece of paper filled with tiny beer mug icons and marks off each time a beer is served to you. Needless to say, our bill wasn’t very impressive.
My Prague recommendations:
- Las Adelitas at Malé náměstí 13 in Old Town. As mentioned in my last post, this is a great spot for Oxacan-Mexican cuisine if you’re an expat craving carnitas and margaritas.
- U Vodoucha at Jagellonská 21. Very authentic Czech-style pub with hearty cuisine like bratwurst and schnitzel. They have different beers every day and the servers can help you decide. I would recommend this spot to anyone looking for the real deal.
- Lokál on Dlouhá 33 in Old Town, or on Míšeňská 12, Malá Strana across the bridge. We went to both locations and I swear the Pilsner Urquell was better at the Malá Strana location.
- Debut Gallery. This boutique is in Old Town just around the corner from Las Adelitas. It is a gorgeous, light-filled space with jewelry and clothing all designed by local art graduate students. Each piece is modern, fresh and unique. We went twice.
- Franz Kafka Museum. Again, this one isn’t for kids but is an in-depth look at the pre-Communist period in the Czech Republic. If it’s raining or you are feeling emo, check it out.
- Prague Castle. This is a must-see, for the views and hike through the Hradčany neighborhood alone. At noon you can watch the changing of the guards.