- Aqualand Moravia
- Pasohlávky 110 E, 691 22 Pasohlávky
- Czech Republic
- GPS: 48°54'9.936"N, 16°34'28.524"E
- [email protected]
Avoid changing your money into another currency before your departure (e.g. changing your Euros or Japanese Yen into US Dollars before changing those into Czech Crowns). It is not necessary and will only make you pay commission twice. Some of them recently started to offer a 0% commission. Unless you believe in the existence of Saints on Earth, please don't fall into these tourist traps. It is always better to change money in state banks with a commission of 1.5-2% than paying an 8-10% commission to the exchange office or your hotel reception.
The bank with the best rates (and the only one that is open on the weekends) is near the Wenceslas Square at the beginning of the street Na Prikope and it's called Volksbank. Another good one is Komercni banka with offices all around, easily recognizable by the red KB logo. Change only the amount you will need to avoid bringing Czech Crowns back to your country because you might have problems converting them back to your currency. You can always convert any left-over Czech Crowns into your currency while still in the Czech Republic, before your return home.
You can also use your card to withdraw cash from the many ATM machines around town. Avoid changing money from people who offer this "service" on the streets unless you want to be cheated or robbed. Don't show your money and wallet in crowded areas. For further information about safety in Prague please refer to Safety Tips. Accommodation and shopping expenses aside, you can expect to spend about 40-50 USD per day to pay for 2 meals and museum entrance fees.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech Crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kè, with the international abbreviation CZK.
This Czech saying could be translated as "Every Czech is a musician" or "So many Czechs, so many musicians". Music has a great importance to Czech people. Czechs love music and many of them play a musical instrument. Because of that, there are many amateur groups. On the other hand, Czech Republic boasts excellent musicians in every style of music. During your walks, you will receive many leaflets advertising classical music concerts of the day. It will be a difficult choice!
As far as street music goes, many groups make the walks of every tourist more pleasant with their notes. They play mostly folk or jazz swing music. One of the most popular bands and the only one that is allowed to play at the Castle for the President normally plays in front of the main gate of the Castle and its name is the Prague Funfair Orchestra. Their repertoire ranges from traditional Czech music to personal arrangements of classical music. Another popular band plays both on Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square. Its name is The Charles Bridge Swing Group. An artist who plays on the Charles Bridge, Alexander Zoltán, also deserves a special note because he plays a self-made glass harp, that is to say he plays on crystal glasses.
Speaking of local artists in different musical styles, I made a personal selection to give you a general idea. Most of these groups or singers hold regular concerts in Prague.
Visiting Prague in wintertime means discovering the other face of the city and the atmosphere can be fascinating if you don't mind the cold. Winter weather usualy starts announcing itself by the end of November. The lowest temperatures (-5°C/20°F to -10°C/10°F) and the best chance of snow can be expected in January and February. Winter days are short and it gets dark at about 4:30 p.m. in December. Most monuments remain open during winter but have reduced opening hours and close at 4 or 5 p.m. The Concentration Camp of Terezín (about 70 km from Prague) remains open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Charles Bridge is a wonderful and impressive place. To catch the best of its charm, I suggest an evening or night walk.
Before the Charles Bridge there was an older bridge called the Judith Bridge. It was built in 1157 and destroyed in a river flood in 1342. Charles IV was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1355 and decided to build another bridge to imitate the ancient Rome where Caesars had a trail across the Tevere. At that time people strongly believed in astrology and to set the first stone, a pyramid was drawn that was composed of the numbers of the date and time, all odd numbers on an ascending and descending scale of 2: 135797531 (year: 1357, day: 9th of July, time: 5:31 a.m.). The first stone was laid on July 9th at 5:31 a.m. Well, it was a lucky choice for the bridge because it has never collapsed completely - only two arcades collapsed in the second half of the 1800s. Charles IV asked every village of the kingdom to send a cart of eggs to strengthen the mortar with egg white. This is not a legend; we also have proof of the use of eggs in the building of the St. Vitus Cathedral. A legend says though that a naive village sent a cart of hard-boiled eggs.
The architect was Petr Parléř, the same who built the St. Vitus Cathedral. The bridge is of Gothic origin but the statues are more recent. They were placed starting in the 1600s upon requests of the Jesuits who had a college at each end of the bridge and wanted to create a sort of spiritual passage between them taking the inspiration from the Saint Angel Bridge in Rome. The saints are all the ones we know plus the national patrons. The statues are so dark because of the Prague pollution. The stone used for the statues is calcareous and it has absorbed so much that it is impossible to clean. For this reason the statues were replaced with copies.
At the beginning of the 1900s trams passed on the bridge and in the 1950s there was car traffic as well.
Statue of St. John Nepomuk - There is a plaque on the Charles Bridge with a picture of a man being thrown off the bridge. The statue represents Saint John of Nepomuk. He was the court priest of Wenceslas IV and was killed on the request of the king. Legend says the reason was because he refused to tell the king about the queen's confession but the truth is that he invited a bishop to Prague who was the king's enemy.
Touching the statue is one of Prague's rituals and it is supposed to bring good luck and ensure that you will return to Prague soon. If you walk a few steps towards the Old Town from there, you can find a cross with five stars on the left parapet of the bridge.
The Jewish Quarter
The rich collections of the Jewish Museum of Prague are unique and of worldwide importance. They are overshadowed only by those in Israel.
Not very much has been preserved of the ancient Ghetto of Prague and its inhabitants are now spread out in different Prague districts. The Jewish Community of Prague has a millenary history witnessed by the Museum we can visit today with its priceless collections located in the several Synagogues along the district. Visiting the Jewish Quarter - Ticket offices are located at the entrance to each Synagogue. The ticket costs 300 Kč for adults and 200 Kč for children and students.* If you pay 200 Kč more (140 Kč for children and students), you can also visit the Old-New Synagogue and the Synagogue of the Jubilee in Jerusalémská Street near the Wenceslas Square.
I would suggest starting our visit from the Jewish Cemetery, entrance from Siroka Street. At the entrance we can visit the Pinkas Synagogue built in the Late Gothic style. Nowadays it is used as a Memorial to the victims of the nazi concentration camps from Bohemia and Moravia. There were about 80,000 of them and their names are written one by one on the walls of the Synagogue. It is also worth to visit the collection of drawings by children at the Terezín Ghetto, located on the first floor.
We now enter the Old Cemetery, one of the most impressive in the world. It was in use from the beginning of the 1400s to 1797 when Joseph II forbade the use of cemeteries inside the city walls due to sanitary reasons. Kafka is buried in the New Cemetery at the metro station Zelivskeho (green line).
Under the top layer, there are 11 more layers with a total of 12-15,000 graves but it is difficult to know the exact number. At the end of the 1800s, the Prague Town hall decided to steal a part of this area to place the Museum of Applied Arts and this caused the falling of the graves one upon the other.
Outside of the Cemetery we can visit the Klaus Synagogue with a collection of objects dealing with the Jewish calendar and holidays. On the first floor the exhibit continues with the life cycle of Jews from birth to marriage. Death and its rituals are located in the little house near the exit of the cemetery.
At the end of the street we can see the Old-New Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Central Europe still in use. It was built in 1270. The name comes from the fact that there was an older synagogue nearby so this one was called New Synagogue. Later another synagogue was built so this one took the name Old-New.
To the right of the Synagogue, there is the Town Hall for the Jewish Community of Prague and the Czech Republic. It was built in the 1600s by Rabbi Maisel but what has been preserved is a more recent Rococo Facade.
From here we take Maiselova Street, a little past Široká, and visit the Maisel Synagogue with relics covering the history of the Jewish Community from the beginning to 1800. The second part of the history, from 1800 to present days, is in the Spanish Synagogue in Široká Street, a little past Pařížská. This synagogue is worth a visit for its Art Deco-Moresque interior.
This is the end of our visit. A little past the synagogue, at the end of the street, there is a good restaurant called Česká hospoda where you can have a nice rest. There are two kosher restaurants in Prague: King Solomon - Široká 8, Prague 1 (Josefov), right in the Jewish district. Casablanca Kosher Moroccan - Na Příkopě 10, a few steps from Wenceslas Square. To specify that you do not eat pork, the translation is: Nejím vepřové. When you look in the menu, avoid meals that have vepřové in them - that means "pork".