- Aqualand Moravia
- Pasohlávky 110 E, 691 22 Pasohlávky
- Czech Republic
- GPS: 48°54'9.936"N, 16°34'28.524"E
- [email protected]
The best time is evening or night and you will have the whole city center at a glance. To get there take tram 22 to the Pohořelec stop, cross the square, turn right uphill and you will be in front of the main gate to the Strahov Monastery. Cross the yard and go to the iron gate at the far end; a few steps away down is the terrace.
The Romanic House at Řetězová 3, Prague 1
This house belonged to the hussite king George of Poděbrady. Take a chance to make one more step down in history and visit the Romanic cellars.
Vyšehrad is one of the oldest parts of Prague even though almost nothing exists from the old times. It is a nice walk (better in the morning) on the baroque walls with a beautiful view of the city. To get there, take metro C - Red to the stop Vyšehrad, walk past the Congress Center and go straight about 300 meters to the baroque walls.
According to legend, the Princess Libuše predicted the birth of Prague from this high ground on the Vltava, "a city whose glory will rise to the stars". Vyšehrad is the oldest part of Prague after the Castle and it was the second center of power of the Premyslides, the first dynasty of Slavonic origin that ruled the country for the first four centuries of its history. The name means High Castle, which signifies its position on a rock facing the river.
The history of Vyšehrad traces back to the 10th century. At that time it was already the mint of the dynasty. The family was not very quiet inside so this second castle was created far from the first. The prince Vratislav II founded the Chapter of Vyšehrad in 1070 to point out the independence of the place. The last prince who lived there was Soběslav between 1125 and 1140. Later this area lost its importance until the first half of the 14th century when it was reconstructed at the will of Elise of the Premislides, mother of Emperor Charles IV, who elected Vyšehrad as her residence. During the Hussites war in 1400 Vyšehrad was on the side of the king and it was later seized and conquered by the Protestants.
Some reconstructions were made in the Renaissance style in 1500 and after the Thirty Years War it was surrounded by baroque ramparts. At the end of the 19th century the Church of Saint Peter and Paul, of Romanesque origin with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque reconstructions, was restored in the Neo-Gothic style. At the same time a cemetery was created where all the Greats of the nation are buried. Smetana, Dvořák, Mucha, Jan Neruda and many others rest here. Not a lot has been preserved from the past but it's a nice place to get a view of the city.
A walk around Vyšehrad
To get there, take metro C red in the direction of Háje and get off at Vyšehrad. When you come out of the metro station, you will face a big building. This is the Convention Center (formerly Palace of Culture) that hosted the congresses of the communist party in the past and now is used for trade fairs, shows and conventions. It has been nicknamed "the Whale of Prague" for its color and dimensions. In September 2000, this place hosted the WTO and G7 meetings that provoked strong demonstrations and fights between the police and rebels.
Follow the building and go down the steps to the narrow streets, which will lead you to the baroque ramparts. A little further you can see the external gate called the Tábor Gate and further on the Leopold Gate that was used at the end of the movie Amadeus, after Mozart's funeral. Soon after the gate you can see one of the three Romanesque rotundas still standing in Prague: the Rotunda of St. Martin. Turn to the left to start your walk on the ramparts and later you will arrive at a lawn where once there was the palace of the princes, later the royal palace, of which you can only see some stones on the grass.
A little further on you will reach the Neo-Gothic Church of Saint Peter and Paul. The interior with its rich decorations is worth a visit. On the left side of the church there is the entrance to the Vyšehrad Cemetery where many of the important people of the Czech nation are buried. Inside the cemetery you will find Slavín, a memorial where many people are buried under the same gravestone.
Continue your walk on the ramparts facing the side towards the center. At the end of the walk you will have two options:
Walk towards the Rotunda of St. Martin and turn left to go back to the metro.
Turn to the opposite side and go down the street to leave Vyšehrad through the Brick Wall from 1841 in the Empire style. Pass through the gate and turn right onto the first street at the end of which you can see a Cubist building on the left. Return to the main street and continue down looking at the nice facades. Turn left to the river bank and then left again. You are now in front of three Cubist houses. Trace back your steps to the opposite direction and find another Cubist villa: Villa Libušina. After the railway bridge there are tram stops to get to the center. Depending on your final destination, you can choose between trams number 3, 16, and 17.
Prague has a lot to offer besides its main sights. The National and Municipal Galleries offer rich collections from a wide range of artistic periods and styles. If you only have two or three days in Prague, your visits to museums and galleries will have to be limited or skipped altogether. If you can stay longer, however, there is a lot to discover.
Hradčany - the Castle District
Hradčany was founded in 1321 during the reign of John of Luxemburg to provide housing for the Castle employees. The gothic part of the district disappeared in the 1400s due to the Hussite wars and later due to the devastating fire of 1541, which started at the Malá Strana Square and spread all the way to the upper part of Hradčany.
We start our walk in the upper part, Pohořelec. The best way to get here is by tram 22 from the Malostranská metro station, green line, A. Pass the stops for the Castle and get off at Pohořelec. Follow the tram tracks up and after they turn right, cross the street and go left. We are in front of the entrance to the Strahov Monastery (Strahovský klášter). Strahov was founded in the 12th century and was named Mount Zion. The name was changed during the reign of Charles IV (second half of the 1300s) who joined it to the gothic ramparts so the monastery also became a military outpost. Strahov comes from the Czech word "stráž", which means "guard". The first buildings were in the Romanic style but what we can see now is the result of the baroque restoration. The two library halls are very nice. The first hall is neoclassic and at the end of the corridor, there is an early baroque hall. This second hall is famous because some scenes of the movie Amadeus were shot inside.
Let's cross the yard and an international sign at the end marks the direction to an overlook terrace from which you can admire the whole historical center of Prague. This place is better in the afternoon for landscape-photographic reasons. We'll go back to the yard and turn right through the passage that will take us back to Pohořelec.
Pohořelec is one of the squares of this district and its name means "after the fire" because it burnt and was rebuilt many times. In this square, there is a baroque palace with a bank (tip: should you need to change money, do it here because it is the only bank in the district; there are many private money-exchange offices around but with higher commission). As I was saying... in this palace lived the De Martinis: the members of this Italian family were the official chimney-sweepers of the district. We all agree that the business was pretty good.
We continue and take the street on the left. We are now in a very nice square: Loreto Square (Loretánské náměstí). If you want to get deeper into the Prague "spirit", I suggest you stop at the beer house U Černého Vola (At the Black Ox) at Loretánské nám. 1. This is a typical Prague beer house with shared tables and it is difficult to get in because it is so popular with locals. The square is dominated by the Černín Palace. Černín was a count and ambassador of the king in Venice. When he came back to Prague, he wanted to build a palace as big as the Castle. He didn't manage but he got the family into debts for generations to come. The family abandoned the Palace that was later used as a refuge for the poor, as a refuge for foreign armies and later as barracks. It has been the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1918. Almost in front, there is the Prague Loreto. Bohemia became a protestant country after the Hussite wars of the 1400s, but when the Hapsburgs arrived, they imposed the Catholic faith as the state faith. All the noble families who arrived with them helped in this process. The Lobkovic family was the most active and in the first half of the 1600s Benigna Catherine Lobkovic built a copy of the Holy House. The Holy House was surrounded by a baroque construction in the 1700s. In the tower, there are 27 bells connected to a keyboard and a carillon and they play a tune every hour. I suggest visiting inside if you are interested in church decorations. The most famous piece of this treasure is a monstrance made of 6222 diamonds, named the Sun of Prague.
From Loreto, we cross the square in front of the monument and walk along Černínská street. At the end of this street, we turn right onto the New World Street (Nový Svět), which has nothing to do with Dvořák's Symphony. This street has preserved its renaissance atmosphere with its tiny houses. Employees of the Castle used to live here and now only those who can afford it live in this charming area.
At the end we continue through Karmelitska street to reach the main square of the district facing the Castle. Don't miss the renaissance palace decorated with graffiti on your left. This is the Martinic Palace. The palace belonged to one of the "victims" of the Prague defenestration of 1618. Together with his partner Slavata and their secretary Fabio Fabrizio, they were thrown out of the windows of the Castle because they represented king Matthias who lived in Vienna. They didn't die because they fell on the garbage that was thrown out of the windows at that time. They were honored as heroes and Martinic later bought this palace. Look to your left and you will see the house of Mozart in the movie Amadeus.
We continue and cross the square. Let's stop under the street lamp and keep the Castle behind us so we can take a look at this square that once was the economic and social center of the district. After the fire of 1541, many palaces of noble families that arrived with the Hapsburgs were built on the ruins. On the other side, there are smaller houses that once belonged to the Church. The rococo palace near the Castle still houses the Prague Archbishop.