If you love Christmas spirit, decorations and of course Glühwein (I’m sorry, but English word mulled wine is just weird), travelling in December is a great idea. While my favourite Christmas-spirit city is Wien, I also loved Christmas look and vibe of Prague.
Prague – the capital of the Czech Republic
I visited it once before in spring 2006 and I can honestly say it’s one of my favourite European capitals. It has rich history, one of the best universities in Europe – Charles University, and great beer. Also, going out in Prague on their famous pub crawl is one of a kind party experience.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Prague is Prague Castle with the St. Vitus Cathedral which store the Czech Crown Jewels. In Christmas time Castle and the Cathedral are decorated beautifully. There are Christmas trees everywhere, advent wreaths, garlands, and in front of the Cathedral there’s Christmas crib with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. At 12. O’clock there’s a change of guards every day. If you have a chance to see it, go for it, I liked it a lot. It’s not like the one in London, but still worth of seeing.
The view from the castle is amazing. I took the stairway from it to the city centre. It was a really lovely walk that took me about 20 minutes and I got directly to the Charles Bridge.
Jewels of Prague
The Charles Bridge is probably the most popular sight in Prague. Perfect place to take lots of pictures or let some local artist to paint your portrait. There are also local musicians and little stands with jewellery or souvenirs. One of the things I like about Prague is the atmosphere. Crowded and loud, but not too much – just the right amount of tourist craziness. I also like how easy it is to see everything, because sightsees are very close to one another. You don’t have to take underground every time you want to get to some place, you can explore most of it by foot.
Next stop for me was Old Town Square. It’s located between the Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square. Honestly my favourite place. I’m a huge Christmas lover and everything related to Christmas is magical for me. There’s a Christmas market with the most beautiful Christmas tree in the whole country. Market place is very crowded. Here you can enjoy traditional food, Glühwein or different kinds of punch, and a must-try in Prague – Trdelník. This is actually a Slovak traditional dessert, but extremely popular all over the Ex-Czechoslovakia Republic. It’s made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. If you’re in Prague in Christmas time I suggest you enjoy at least one meal at the market, you’ll get in Christmas spirit and get a real taste of this beautiful city and Czech traditions. You can also buy Christmas presents, there’s something for every taste. Goodies sold on a market are usually homemade.
Worth seeing sight at the Old Town Square is also Old Town Hall and with it the Orloj, Prague astronomical clock, which is mounted on the southern wall of it. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and the only hope was represented by a boy born in the New Year’s night. I was there 30 minutes or so before hourly show, so I decided I will go to the Starbucks, grab a Chrstimas latte and then come back to see figures.
Few-minutes-walk gets you to another beautiful place in Prague – Wenceslas Square. Also decorated and cheerful in Christmas spirit, this is one of the main city squares and the centre of the business and cultural communities in the New Town of Prague. Many historical events occurred here, and it is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The most known landmark of Wenceslas Square is National Museum Building. It’s the biggest museum of the city. Admission is free of charge every first Monday of the month and museum is closed every first Tuesday of the month. I still regret I didn’t go inside, but museums take a lot of time, so I decided to skip it. Next time I go to Prague it is on my priority list, for sure.
Fred and Ginger and Vltava
One of the best parts of my trip was walking by the river. I actually ended up there by accident, because I decided to explore a little bit. I walked pass the National museum, till I got to The Dancing House or, as the not-so-popular nickname goes, Fred and Ginger. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. This non-traditional design was quite controversial at the time because it just stands out among the Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings for which Prague is so famous, and in the opinion of some people it just doesn’t fit in. It’s not my favourite thing in Prague, I don’t quite like it, but if you’re visiting just take a walk, see it and decide by yourself. As for the nickname – Gehry originally named the house Fred and Ginger after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – the house resembles couple of dancers, but this nickname is now rarely used. When I took enough pictures of it, I crossed the street, and came to the river Vltava.
It’s a lovely walk and you can sightsee during. You pass little shops, cafeterias, and restaurants. Alongside the banks of the Vltava River there’s a neo-Renaissance building with golden roof – the National Theatre. You can also see Charles Bridge and take pictures of it in the whole glory.
All good things must come to an end
I concluded my trip with delicious meal, beer and some Christmas shopping for my family and friends. Prague is a fantastic place with nice people and something for everyone! I will definitely return to this amazing town and can’t wait for this day to come.
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