By Caroline Weller
The Czech Republic is a beautiful country full of rich culture located in central Europe. It is a region of beautiful rivers, rolling hills, historic castles and more. Recently a close friend of mine had the opportunity to live in Prague, the heart and capital of the Czech Republic. While living there, she had the chance to visit hundreds of different sites throughout the country. After speaking with her in depth about her experiences, I decided to compile a list of the eight most interesting places to visit if you travel to the Czech Republic.
Home of the Pilsner lager, one of the Czech Republic’s most famous export – many consider Pilsen “the spiritual home of beer.” Located in Pilsen is the Plzeňské Pivovary, the famous brewery that sells Pilsner Urquell beer to more than fifty countries around the globe. Here you will be able to try the Pilsner beer straight from its source and experience a “How it’s Made” tour. For those of you who don’t consider yourselves to be beer connoisseurs, Pilsen is also home to the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew. This Cathedral was built in 1342 and is still the tallest church tower in the Czech Republic today. There is something for everyone in Pilsen!
2. Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora, otherwise known as a “national treasury” or the city of silver, is home to the late Gothic Cathedral of St. Barbara and the Cathedral of Our Lady at Sedlec. Silver was discovered in Kutná Hora in the 13th century and has been a city symbolic of prosperity ever since. Here, you will be able to find beautiful Gothic and Baroque architecture and interiors that depict what life was like many centuries ago. Also located in the suburbs of Kutná Hora is the Sedlec Ossuary, a church ornamented with the skeletons of approximately 40,000-70,000 people.
3. Café Louvre
A favorite amongst many Prague locals and tourists. Café Louvre opened its doors on Národní Třída (National Avenue) in 1902 and has continued the tradition of providing a unique Czech Republic cafe atmosphere ever since. Café Louvre has a rich history and has been visited by some of the world’s most famous figures such as Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka. If you visit for brunch, try the café au lait and a fresh croissant – one of Sara’s favorite pairings.
“The doors of the Café Louvre first opened in 1902. Since that time, history has marched through Národní Třída (National Avenue), and friendships, associations, and novels have been created at its café tables.“– Cafe Louvre https://www.cafelouvre.cz/en
4. Zizkof Tower
The Zizkof Tower is the tallest building in Prague and was constructed in 1985 by the Soviet Union. The Soviets originally intended to use the tower to block Western radio transmissions, but the 305 ft tower now serves as an observatory that locals and tourists can ascend to view Prague from a 360-degree view. Most interestingly however, are the ten baby sculptures attached to the side of the tower. Famous Czech artist David Černý created the massive statues to symbolize the “babies” that originally crawled up and down the tower (the Soviets.) The babies have bar codes as faces to represent how capitalism affects even the youngest members of society. The Zizkof Tower is a must see if you are wanting to take one step further into history and get a magnificent view of the city.
5. Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge, previously referred to as the Stone Bridge, is one of the most visited sights in Prague and was constructed in 1357 under the rule of Holy Roman Empire Charles IV. The bridge connects the “Old Town” and the “Lesser Town” in Prague and is constantly bustling with locals and visitors. Often times you will find artists, musicians and small pop up shops along the bridge as well. You will also be able to find thirty statues – some as tall as ten feet – of saints carefully carved into the bridge. If you are visiting Prague, you can’t miss the Charles Bridge.
6. The Prague Castle
The Prague Castle is perhaps one of the most breathtaking sights in all of the Czech Republic. With multiple courtyards and buildings covering 18 acres of land, the Prague Castle is considered the largest castle complex in the world. The castle is rich with history spanning all the way back to 880 when the Premyslid dynasty ruled. The castle also served as the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor when Charles IV came to power in 1346. The Castle was opened to the public in 1989, allowing visitors to stroll through Ballgame Hall, the Imperial Stables, the Royal Gardens and other areas of the complex. You can also find the St. Vitus Cathedral on the castle grounds. The Cathedral was built over a period of 600 years and is the largest temple in Prague.
7. Old Town Square
Old Town Square is a bustling, central area in Prague. The square is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area and is home to the famous Prague Astronomical Clock (or Orloj). The clock dates back to 1410 and depicts the current day and the position of various celestial objects. You can find many other monumental landmarks within the square such as the St. Nicholas Church, Old Town Hall and the house Franz Kafka lived in at the end of the 19th century (The House at the Minute). No matter what direction you wander in Old Town Square, there is history at every turn!
8. Prague National Museum
The Prague National Museum is the largest museum in the Czech Republic and houses over 14 million items. The Museum holds artifacts in everything from Czech prehistory, nature, anthropology to theater. You will also find a 120-year-old whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. If you are looking to gain a holistic understanding and perspective of Czech culture and history, the National Museum is a great place to start!
Whether you are considering a one day stop or a year-long stay, there is always something exciting to do in the Czech Republic. This castle-rich country offers wonderful food, breathtaking views, and a unique cultural experience.