Prague Castle is one of the most visited and most important spots in the entire city; undoubtedly the jewel of the Czech capital. The Castle is an ancient symbol of Czech lands and was most likely founded around the year 880 by Prince Borivoj. The Castle itself is like a small town, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records it is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. It covers an area of 70,000 square metres and is still in use today.
The 13th-century Charles Bridge (Karlův most) lined with half a kilometre of Baroque statues ranks among the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Strolling this charming bridge with impressive vistas over Prague Castle and the Vltava River is everybody’s favourite activity. Unfortunately Charles Bridge is a victim of its own popularity – most of the time it is packed with tourists and Czechs alike, especially during the spring and summer months.
Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) has been Prague’s principal public centre since the 10th century, and was its main marketplace until the beginning of the 20th century. It is the centre of Czech national history and art, witnessing all political meetings, concert bands, celebrations of victories either in the political scene or the sporting arena, and not to forget the annual Christmas and Easter markets which attract huge tourist crowds.
Prague’s most prominent Art Nouveau building was built between 1906 and 1912 and is situated on the site of the former Royal Court Palace. It is a popular stop for visitors drawn in by the Art Nouveau gold trimmings, stained glass, sculpture, and the regular exhibitions and concerts.
A narrow passage leads to the third courtyard of the castle, and a sudden view of the immense and awe-inspiring facade of St. Vitus Cathedral looming up just a few steps away. The cathedral can be entered through the cathedral’s western door. The spires of St. Vitus Cathedral, an elegant but domineering French Gothic structure, soar above the ramparts.
The Jewish quarter is a small area known as Josefov, named after Emperor Josef II, whose reforms helped to ease living conditions for the Jews (the Jewish Quarter contains the remains of Prague’s former Jewish ghetto). Josefov lies between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Here are two famous figures synonymous with this part of the city: Franz Kafka, and the mystical Golem created by Jehuda ben Bezalel, also known as Rabi Löw.
Framed by the spectacular and imposing structures of the White Tower and Dallibor Tower, Golden Lane is ticked away quietly against the walls of the castle. With a history of being home to alchemists in the 16th and 17th century, as well as those in the imperial entourage, it is now a quaint and charming little street with spectacular sights.
The monastery, which became known as the Strahov monastery, was not much of a success until 1143, when a group of Premonstratensians settled here. The Premonstratensians are a Roman Catholic order of canons founded in 1120 by St. Norbert. They are also known as the Norbertians or White Canons. During communist times, the monastery was closed and many monks were imprisoned.