According to legend, the origin of Prague dates back the 7th century when a Slavic princess named Libuše had a vision of a great city whose glory would touch the stars. The Czech Republic is a land of stories and legends. Many centuries later the capital city Prague is a historical, beaming metropolis filled with countless spires backed by golden sunlight, baroque architecture soaring high into the skyline, frothy beer and memorable folklore. When I got my three day Prague city card I had the whole magical city at my fingertips.
The Prague Card is valid for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 7 days.
Czech Tourism is a contributory organization of the Ministry for Regional Development and has been the leading tourism company in the Czech Republic since 1993 when Slovakia broke away from the combined countries. Czechoslovakia came into being in 1919 after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire during WWI.
With a track record that can’t be beaten I decided to purchase the 3-day Prague card to help me unlock the history and secrets of the reputable medieval city of Prague, once the capital of the Hapsburg Empire, once ruled by King Charles V.
I entered the Czech Tourism office bright-eyed and ready to devour everything Prague had to offer me. The Czech travel professional greeted me with a smile. Once I paid the small sum of 1540kč, which is about $64 or 57€ I was given the card, a detailed map of Prague, and a printed Prague card book in English. The Czech Republic is part of the European Union, but still uses the Krone (Crown) as its currency, but is due the Euro in 2017 after many years of waiting.
The bizarre Dancing House.
I wandered into the nearest cafe and ordered a cappuccino and reviewed the materials to make a plan of action. With the card there is free access to over 50 buildings, such as entrance to the Prague Castle, Old Town Hall and Tower, and the National Museum. Not only do you get free entrance to the most famous sites and monuments in Prague, you also get discounts on numerous other entrance fees such as the Franz Kafka museum and the Old Town Bridge Tower located on the Charles Bridge.
Firstly, with the Prague card comes free access to all public transport — metro, tram, bus, the cable car on Petřín Hill, and ferries on the Vltava River. This makes it easy and fun to get around this historical city and experience the city from a local’s point of view.
Don’t be startled by the steep and lengthy escalators which lead you underground to the metro system, they may drop your jaw at first but you’ll get from memorable attraction to attraction in the blink of an eye. If you choose to wander around the city while inhaling the beautiful baroque architecture you can always check your detailed map to see where you are; or you can do as I did when I was “lost.” I stopped into the nearest pub and took a famous Czech pilsner to relax and refer to the map. If you find yourself on the street, street vendors offer grilled Kielbasas and Red Deer venison sausages, served with hot wine.
The church rises above the Old Town Square.
I began my journey by seeing the beating heart of Prague, a place that the most iconic attractions call home- The Old Town Square which still retains one of the original fortress arches. The time was five minutes to noon and I had my feet planted in front of the Astronomical clock. Dating back to the 14th century the Astronomical Clock, or “orloj” as they say in Czech, boasts the succession of the 12 apostles; directly below you can see intricate medallions with the zodiac signs. The apostle parade happens every hour on the hour and is sure to grab your attention. After I saw the “walk of the apostles” I wanted to get a bird’s eye view of the main square where horse and buggy ride are the main tourist attractions.
The Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square.
I ascended the tower to the lookout of the Old Town Bridge Tower where I was going to get a first hand view of the pulse of Prague. If you don’t fancy the spiraling walk up to the top, there is an elevator that takes you directly up the lookout deck. The view is unforgettable.
Usually a pop-up band is in the square and certainly more food vendors around the fountain. Prague is also called a festival city, and there is usually one happening every week.
The Medieval Prague Castle above Vltava River.
Next on my list was to cross the astonishing Charles Bridge and to walk up to explore one of the largest castle complexes in the world. The Prague Castle soars above Prague and is unarguably the most important cultural monument in the Czech Republic. The castle complex is comprised of churches, palaces, halls, beautiful gardens,, and other buildings. The "Crown Jewels" of the Czech Republic reside here behind lock and key and massive doors.
A brilliant St. Vitus Cathedral window.
The most staggering addition to the complex is the St. Vitus Cathedral which is fully situated within the walls of the castle. The stained-glass windows have never been replicated, although there were numerous modern attempts. The silver and gold statuary is astonishing beautiful beyond belief.
Step back in time and discover the most beautiful iconic castle complex of Europe. At the end of the tour you walk a cobble stone street lined with locally made but modern Medieval trinkets in tiny shops;, young author Franz Kafka once resided in a cottage on the street. Just outside the entrance is a cafe serving pilner and hot wine,
The iconic Charles Street Bridge.
Over the course of three days I had wandered the streets of iconic Old Town, also called the City Centre where there is an underground metro station. , I had traversed the Charles Bridge, found myself fascinated by the architecture of the Jewish district, ate traditional Czech dumplings and sipped Czech pilsner; you have to love a city where the beer is cheaper than bottled water. The vibrant culture of Prague is as close to magic as you can get, and with the Prague card by Czech Tourism the city is yours to explore. Don't take my word for it, Czech it out. The card can be also delivered to your hotel in the City Centre and can be validates for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 7 days of activities. The card can also be mailed to you..
For more detailed information about the Prague Card visit the Czech Tourism website at: http://www.czechtourism.com/
Read the Jetsetters Magazine feature about the Sheraton Prague Charles Square by Kristin Rist.
— Feature and photos by Kristin Rist, Jetsetters Magazine European Correspondent.