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Prague is a fascinating city. It’s illustrious history has been marked by glorious highs and unspeakable lows. But all of this has molded the city to become something wholly unique, with its incredible architecture and vibrant culture (and counter-culture). When staying in Prague visitors get to experience so many different corners of the city, from royal castles to inviting alleyways, intimidating Gothic to Art-Nouveau, and poignant museums to peaceful monasteries. There’s a lot here to see, and a lot of perspectives to absorb, but these best attractions in Prague will get you to as many as possible.
Top Attractions in Prague
The western bank of the Vltava River is dominated by Prague Castle. The massive complex is actually several attractions in one, and you can spend an entire day exploring what’s here. Start with the St. Vitus Cathedral, visible from almost any viewpoint in the city. The Gothic exterior towers over the surrounding walls, and the interior sky-high vaults are lit up with color from the exquisite stained glass windows. Continue on to the Old Royal Castle for a glimpse at some rare Romanesque architecture. The massive rooms have peculiar and eye-catching decoration, and this castle is surely unlike any you’ve visited before. Besides these two historical structures, there’s plenty more to be had here, with the Golden Lane, a sort of model village of the castle’s workers, St. George’s Basilica, an inviting Baroque church, and Daliborka, the former castle prison, as well as several manicured gardens.
Old Town Square
Like Prague Castle, there’s lots to see in the Old Town Square. Perhaps the most visited spot in the entire city, Old Town Square’s most famous resident is the Astronomical Clock. It’s the oldest working clock of its kind in the world, and is one of the best preserved and most elaborate. It chimes on the hour, so be sure to catch the show. The clock hangs on the side of the Old Town Hall, which offers some of the best views in the whole city. You’ll also get to know some history as you walk through the different council rooms. Also on the Old Town Square are two of Prague’s best churches, the Gothic-style Church of Our Lady before Týn, and the Baroque-style St. Nicholas Church. Last but not least, just opposite the Old Town Hall is a branch of the National Gallery. This location specifically houses the Asian and Ancient art collection.
No visit to Prague is complete without a jaunt across the Charles Bridge. Probably Prague’s most famous landmark, the bridge was built in 1402, and gained its importance as the only way across the Vltava for several hundred years. As you stroll along, ponder the 30 statues lining each side, depicting the city’s most revered saints. While the views from the bridge are spectacular, you can head up the tower for a bird’s eye view of the area. The afternoon crowds can be quite oppressive, especially in summer, so it’s best to get here early or late. If you can get yourself out of bed, sunrise here is magical (and there’s not a person in sight).
For a taste of more modern Prague, visit the Municipal House. The art-nouveau structure was built in 1912 as a home for Smetana Hall, and works by some of Czechia’s greatest artists. Even the exterior is something to see, with the “Homage to Prague” by Karl Špillar crowning the entryway. You can visit the interior by guided tour, where you’ll see see statues by Šaloun, and paintings by Preisler, Švabinský, and of course, Mucha. Besides the art, tours will also go through the ballroom, foyer, and Smetana Hall itself, with its beautiful glass dome. It’s also a great place to stop for breakfast, with its excellent café.
Museum of Communism
Tucked away in Republic Square, the Museum of Communism offers an important perspective on life away from the fairy-tale Gothic architecture and proud Czech culture. The museum is set up in a three-act story, starting with the ideals of Communism and its implementation in Czechoslovakia, then following with the everyday life of the regime’s citizens, from work and propaganda to family and leisure. The third section of the museum explores the dark effects of Communism, with real stories from escape attempts, labor camps, show trials, the secret police, and a replica interrogation room. The museum is a less-visited spot in the city, but gives a new meaning to a much-beloved city.
The Jewish Museum is spread over several locations in the Jewish Quarter. The museum houses one of the biggest collections of Jewish artifacts in the world, with over 40,000 items. Each location has a different focus. The Klausen Synagogue and Ceremonial Hall, have exhibits on Jewish Customs and Traditions, the Spanish and Maisel Synagogues show Jewish history in Bohemia, and the Pinkas Synagogue is a memorial to Czech victims of the Holocaust. The Spanish Synagogue is also famous for its stunning interior and silver collection. In addition, there’s also the Old Jewish Cemetery, where you can pay your respects to Prague’s important Jewish figures, and the Old New Synagogue, Europe’s oldest active synagogue.
The second largest building complex in Prague, right behind Prague Castle, the Klementinum was a former Jesuit college, and is most famous for its fascinating Baroque library. Often called one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Klementinum draws visitors for its pastel-coloured frescoes, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and historic globes that seem from another world entirely. Besides the library, visitors can head up the Astronomical Tower, for great views and looks at the Klementinum’s innovative history, and the Meridian Hall, which was used as a giant clock by tracing the sunbeam across the floor. Guided tours also run through the Mirror Chapel when available, a colourful and airy chapel with even more frescoes. If you can’t make it there on a guided tour, come back in the evening, when the chapel is transformed into a concert hall.
When you next spend a weekend in Prague these seven attractions all give you some great sights, let us know in the comments any of your favourite attractions to visit
Sarah is a college student and avid traveller, who’s cracked the budget travel formula and backpacked solo across 15 European countries