In which a city break to Prague produces a cultural overload.
Last week, a few girlie friends and I, took a short break to Prague, Czech Republic. It was a belated birthday bash – we thought a quick culture fix might be just the thing for four middle-ish aged women.
I’m ashamed to say that until we went, I knew next to nothing about the history of Prague. But we did our best to give ourselves a crash course on Czech history and planned our trip to Prague to see as many of the city’s highlights as we could.
Well, to put it mildly, I was overwhelmed by Prague. I’d heard people say that the city was a mix of Gothic medieval and Baroque architecture, but it hadn’t prepared me for the sheer concentration of these beautiful buildings. After the first hour or so if saying ‘wow!’ as we turned every street corner, we agreed that it is possibly the most gorgeous place we’d ever been to.
(I might still put Rome at the top of my list, it is steeped in a certain grandeur, but if someone told me that I would have to go and live in Prague, I’d leap at the chance).
I was struck by the politeness of the people we met. Everywhere we went, from the customs lady at the airport, through to the taxi drivers, the hotel staff and all the people we met in the shops, cafes and churches, we were treated very well and with great courtesy. This is a friendly, welcoming city.
Car drivers stop for you at street crossings!
A lovely, relaxed atmosphere in the city, that I’ve rarely experienced anywhere before.
As to the culture. Well, clearly this is a very musical city. Concerts were taking place at lunchtime and in the evening at numerous venues.
There is a puppet theatre that stages puppet shows for adults and children – Don Giovanni was on offer last week.
Museums abound. You could easily spend days exploring all the treasures of the city.
But for me, it was the churches that stole the show. St Vitus’s Cathedral dominates the Prague skyline, but despite being told how big it is, and being able to see it in front of you, I couldn’t believe its incredible beauty once inside. It is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. The stained-glass windows took my breath away.
Already overwhelmed with Gothic magnificence, we later visited St Nicholas’s church in the Castle side of the city. This church is a baroque extravaganza. Apart from a few uprights, there are hardly any straight lines in this church. Everything is huge, gold, marble and executed with enormous flourish.
As if the city weren’t enough by day, in the evening, it is beautifully lit. It’s like walking through a fairy tale. Spires and towers glow and light up the sky.
Prague is not a big city. You can easily walk around it and I’d say that’s the best way to experience Prague. There are cafes and bars everywhere, so it’s easy to pace yourself. I had some excellent coffee at a little Italian cafe in the late afternoon, which set me up well for the evening.
If you go, make sure you see the Charles Bridge in the evening. The bridge and the Vltava River, are iconic Prague and look wonderful bathed in the evening light.
Our visit was a short one; back home, I feel that it might have been a dream, it has certainly cast a spell over me and I can’t wait to go again.
Culture score: 10/10
Politeness score: 10/10