A city that bustles with intent either day or night, Prague can rightfully declare itself to be one of the leading city break destinations in Europe. Existing before 500BC, the region played a crucial role in early trade routes across Europe whilst its city grew around the original castle (Praha) Its prominent defensive position clearly influenced the early Celtic settlers yet the current cosmopolitan city uses the hillside location to even great effect... perhaps best viewed from the funicular railway on the north side of the River Vltava ...
The best part of any road trip is the ability to pick and choose your destinations.. so having thoroughly enjoyed our city visits to places like Copenhagen, Bordeaux or more recently Ghent. We love finding new places to add to our list to return back to after our roadtrip ends. So what makes this wonderful city on the eastern side of Europe so special... Using metro/trains to allow quick and easy access into Prague from our convenient overnight destination at AutoCamp at Trojska. We thought we'd try and find out!
We were immediately struck by the difference in architecture and style between Berlin and it's nearby neighbour in the Czech Republic. Prague is simply stunning! We hope the above pictures give a taste of the richnesss of colour, impressive architectural style and the sheer beauty of it's riverside location (with a little help from our new toy, the software 'Aurora HDR')
So where did we head first? Well, we'd got a tip to head towards the furnicular railway above the old town and it's castle to Petrin Hill... Offering brilliant views of the city below, its the perfect place to get your bearings... and every kid loves a funicular railway don't they! (included if you buy a 24hr travel card (110k/adult or 55k/child)
Interestingly in the 'Top 10 Safest Countries in the World to visit (according to the Institute for Economics & Peace), the Czech Republic gets well over 8,000,000 visitors from abroad each year, and amazingly over 6,600,000 go on to visit Prague. So finding a friendly face on the train, we asked when's the busiest time of the year to visit Prague. Apparently May, July & August are the busiest with February the time to visit a quieter Prague..
But if you're looking for the red hot tips on where to visiting Prague - here's their Top 5 Visitors attractions for 2016 (1. Prague Castle, 2. Funicular Railway, 3. Prague Zoo, 4. Old Town Hall 5. Jewish Museum)
Just don't be fooled like we were as the railway stops midway up the hills... perhaps to fool naive people like us... as we trooped out for a picture only to find the train disappearing and leaving us with a steep walk up the hill!!
But once up at the top, at least the girls found a wonderful garden, adventure playground and the Petrin Tower... we didn't head up as we'd opted to see the 'Astronomical Tower' in the Old Town.. but it looked a great thing to do with kids (reasonably cheap too). A miniature 'Eiffel Tower' with over 299 steps to try!
Heading back into the old town, leaving the wonderful castle to another visit in the future (access is free to the gardens, but not inside)... past some fascinating restaurants offering some intriguing smells... especially those offering Czech Goulash. We'd not realised just how many stories Prague has to offer kids... A bridge perhaps built with the helps of eggs!! (Charles), the Tower of Daliborka that imprisoned a famous knight who was fed by lowering a rope/basket or the headless Templar Knight ghost that gallivants down the Lillová street at night... There's even a story about Golem too!!
If you do visit, grab the chance to experience the trams (our choices - 91, 22 and 17 back to the campsite)... the tram's vary so much from ultra modern to very old, historic models... the girls loved the chance to jump on/off and it certainly saved time across the city (that said we easily racked up 15,000 steps across the day!) Or try one of the traditional Trdelnik pastries whilst watching one of the impressive street artists (we still couldn't work out how this one worked!)
With both girls slightly 'museum'd out' by the fantastic museums in Ghent, we'd opted for a totally different 'city experience'... and a chance to climb the famous Astronomical Clock Tower... famous as the poor maker (Master Hanuš) was blinded soon after so he couldn't recreate a similar masterpiece elsewhere in Europe! But if you are visiting with kids, theres plenty more to see from the Toy Museum (1200 Barbie Dolls!) or the Kingdom of the Railway that houses the Czech Republic's largest railway model.... or even one of the famous puppet theatres in the Theatre Houses of Prague..
But for us, the tower beckoned... some partially completed by elevator the rest by foot... before emerging on the stone walkway (see above left) to be greeted with compelling views of Prague from every angle... But the clocktower has more than just the views!
And you need a decent head for heights... as the view down is pretty impressive (see above)... but with the time ticking towards 3.58pm! We leapt into action, descending the tower as quickly as possible to see the hourly show from the huge astronomical clock (see below)
Established back in 1338 as the town hall, the oldest part houses both the tower, an oriel chapel and an astronomical clock with the 12 apostles appearing every hour to the huge crowds who waited in anticipation below... It really was a truly special day as a family! In a spectacularly beautiful city...
So to remember this, we relented and bought the girls their very own timepiece to remember Prague.... We will return and it will place very highly when we start to rank the growing list of 'City Experiences' we're collecting across Europe (30+ and counting!).
Tomorrow sees us head to yet another special Eastern European city as we drop south into Austria and a date with Vienna!
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