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Prague Tour of Scenic & Historic Sights


Prague Castle, St. Vitus's Cathedral, Charles Bridge, & Old Town

Astronomical Clock, Powder Tower, & Wenceslar Square

Jewish Quarter, Jewish Cemetery, & Lesser Town

Dvorak, Smetana, Music, & Dancing

Globus, Avalon, & River Cruise

St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

St. Vitus Cathedral.

Tours

We use the best tour operators to book all kinds of tours to Prague and the Czech Republic including independent tours, escorted tours, and packages. Contact us to book your travel. We book travel worldwide. Check out our Special Promotions.

River Cruise Budapest to Prague

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest where we spent two nights. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, then into Germany. The seven-night cruise ended in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights, and which is described here. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

River Cruise Prague to Paris

We were on a Globus Avalon small-ship river cruise tour that started in Prague where we spent two nights, and which is detailed here. From Prague we were taken by notor coach to Nuremberg, Germany to board the Avalon Waterways Tranquility for our seven-night cruise through Germany. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. For a summary of the daily excursions in each of the towns visited as well as some beautiful scenes viewed from the ship while cruising go to Germany. The tour ended in Paris where we spent two nights. Contact Us for more information.

Nave in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Nave in St. Vitus Cathedral.

Prague

Prague is one of our favorite European cities. It is a city that you want to go back to. Unlike many major cities in Europe, Prague suffered very little damage during the Second World War. So the historic sights remain as they were. It is a great city to explore on foot. Below you will find many places to investigate and enjoy.

Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral.

Prague Castle - St. Vitus's Cathedral

Within the Prague Castle is St. Vitus's Cathedral. Pictures of the front of the cathedral, the Nave, and a chapel are shown above. A statue is senn below. This cathedral is very very impressive; it is one of the most awe-inspiring cathedrals that I have ever seen. It dates from the 10th century, but was not completed until 1929. Several buildings have existed on the present site. In about 925 Prince Wenceslas of Bohemia started a church there dedicated to St. Vitas. You have probably heard the Christmas carol that honors St. Wenceslas. He was killed by his brother in a grab for power. Because of what were thought to be miracles surrounding him, and due to his popularity with the people, the Catholic Church made him a Saint.

Statue in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Statue in St. Vitus Cathedral.

The present structure was started in 1344 under Charles IV, and St. Wenceslas is buried there in the Chapel of St. Wenceslas. The main architect of the cathedral was the German Peter Parler, who also built the Charles Bridge and other things in Prague. A stairs in the cathedral leads down to the royal crypt. Among those buried there is Charles IV. There are a number of magnificent chapels in the cathedral. There are also many beautiful stained-glass windows, as seen in the picture below. The gothic beauty throughout the building is quite amazing. See the pictures. The Bohemian crown jewels are stored in the cathedral. To unlock them requires seven keys, each one being held by an important person.

stained glass window in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Window in St. Vitus Cathedral.

Not far from St. Vitus's Cathedral is St. George's Basilica. This basilica is an example of a romanesque-style church. It dates from the 10th century. The Royal Garden came into being in the 16th century, but has been further developed in recent years. It contains the Ball Game Hall built in 1568. The Lobkowicz Palace is where you learn about Czech history. Paintings, statues, musical instruments, and other things are on display in the palace.

Musicians and guards near St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Musicians and guards near St. Vitus Cathedral.

Before leaving the Prague Castle we had some free time to walk around. We saw a marching band, pictured above, and some statues of battle scenes with an enemy about to be slaughtered. One horrific scene is shown below. There is no doubt that they fought fierce battles in the past. We also saw the changing of the guard. The Prague Castle area overlooks the city, and the American Embassy is in view.

Battle scene statue near St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

Battle scene statue near St. Vitus Cathedral.

Lesser Town

Walking the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Walking the Charles Bridge. View is looking towards Lesser Town.

South of the Prague Castle is Lesser Town, which can be reached by the Charles Bridge as seen above. There are a number of things to seen there. The Church of St. Nicholas is known for its architecture and for the interior with its statues and frescoes. This church was built in the baroque style beginning in 1704. There are some gardens to view. The Vrtba Garden is considered to be the best of the Lesser Town public gardens. It has terraced gardens with well crafted statues. The Wallenstein Palace has many fountains and classical bronze statues throughout the attractive gardens.

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is one of the most important sights in Prague. It crosses the Vltava River. To the west of the river is where you find the Prague Castle and Lesser Town. To the east you find the Old Town Square, the Astronomical Clock, and the Jewish Quarters. The building of the bridge began in 1357 after Charles IV asked architect Peter Parler to build it. Parler was also the builder of St. Vitus's Cathedral. In the 17th century baroque religious statues were added to the bridge by catholics. The best way to see the bridge and its statues is to walk across it, which we did. It was closed to vehicular traffic. There are many statues spread along both sides of the bridge, and one is shown below. A highlight of the walk was encountering musicians playing jazz music on the bridge. See the picture below. It was almost like being back in New Orleans along the Mississippi River.

A statue on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

One of many statues on the Charles Bridge.


New Orleans Jazz on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

New Orleans Jazz on the Charles Bridge.

Old Town Hall & Astronomical Clock

The Old Town Hall, near the Old Town Square, is where the city council administered city business starting in 1338. The building cannot be missed as its tower is 200 feet (61 meters) high. Mounted on the Town Hall Tower is the famous Astronomical Clock. The Tower is displayed below.

Astronomical clock tower in Prague.

Astronomical clock tower.

The clock draws large crowds on the hour each day to see it work. Before the clock strikes the hour a skeleton sounds a death cry and an hour glass goes upside down. The Twelve Apostles are all presented one after the other. A cockerel flaps its wings and the clock strikes the hour. This fascinating clock, shown below, appeared in the 15th century.

Astronomical clock in Prague.

Astronomical clock.

Old Town Square

The Old Town Square is large and dates from the 12th century when the market place moved there. Through many years numerous people have been executed in the Old town Square over religious or nationality conflicts. It is now a place to find musicians and artists and to walk around. There are shops, restaurants and historical buildings. A favorite place for concerts in Old Town is the Church of St. Nicholas. Known for its good acoustics, we attended a very nice program of classical music performed by an organist, soprano, and french horn player. Not far from the Old Town Square close to the river is the Rudolfinum. It was built in the 1800s, and the Czech Philharmonic performs there in the Dvorak Hall, named after the famous Czech composer. A very prominent building in the Old Town Square is the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. The present church dates from the 1380s. The famous astronomer Tyco de Brahe was buried there upon his death in 1601. The double towers of the church look over the Old town Square, and are very impressive at night as seen in the picture below.

Old Town Square at night in Prague.

Old Town Square seen at night with church towers prominently in view.

Smetana Museum

Czech composers have produced some very popular works in classical music. Among the works of Bedrich Smetana is The Bartered Bride, which is a comedy and rated as one of the best of the folk operas. Another popular work he composed is The Moldau. Smetana was born in Bohemia in 1824, and he died in Prague in 1884. In Old Town near the Charles Bridge is the Smetana Museum, where you can learn about the composer.

Powder Tower & Municipal House

Powder Tower in Prague.

Powder Tower.

The Powder Tower is another interesting sight to see, and is shown in the picture above. It was used to store gunpowder. Construction on the tower began in 1475, but was interrupted and not finished until the 19th century. From the top of the tower there there are good views of Old Town and the Prague Castle across the river. Very close to the Powder Tower is the Municipal House, which dates from 1911. It is used for concerts and art exhibits. The Prague Symphony Orchestra performs there in Smetana Hall, named after the famous Czech composer. In downtown Prague we saw a horse drawn carriage, pictured below, going down the cobble stone street.

Horse drawn carriage in downtown Prague.

Horse drawn carriage in downtown Prague.

Dvorak Museum

The Czech composer Antonin Dvorak is one of the world's great composers. He was born in 1841 and lived in Prague where he died in 1904. His famous Symphony From the New World (Number 9) was based on themes he learned while living in the United States. The same is true for The American Quartet. At the time he was director of the National Conservatory in New York City, and he spent his summers in Spillville, Iowa. Smetana had an enormous influence on the younger Dvorak, and encouraged him to write Bohemian national music. The result was many Dvorak compositions with beautiful themes and melodies. The Prague home that he lived in during his later years is now the Dvorak Museum. It is located south of the National Museum and contains Dvorak's scores, his piano, and other possessions. A recital room is found upstairs, and concerts are performed there. We were privileged to see a great concert of Dvorak music performed by a pianist, violinist, soprano, mezzo-soprano, and baritone singers.

Mozart Museum

Wolgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756 and died in Vienna in 1791. He enjoyed visiting Prague, and finished his opera Don Giovanni there where it had a very successful premiere in 1787. The performance was in the Estates' Theater in Old Town, where concerts are still presented today. The villa where Mozart stayed when he was visiting Prague is now the Mozart Museum. Among other things it displays Mozart's harpsichord. Chamber music concerts are held in the museum, which is located on the west side of the river south of the main tourist sights.

Wenceslas Square & National Museum

Wenceslas Square is actually a fairly long divided street with beautiful flowers and shrubs in the middle dividing the lanes. As you walk up the hill you see an impressive building that is the National Museum. On both sides of the street are shops, restaurants, and hotels. Through the years Wenceslas Square has been the place where demonstrations, riots, and revolutions have occurred. At the top of the hill in front of the museum is a large statue of St. Wenceslas riding a horse. The statue includes four additional saints. The National Museum dates from the 1890s. You find statues of important people in Czech history. There are also natural history displays including rocks, bones, and stuffed animals from prehistoric times. Our pictur, below, was taken with the National Museum in the background.

New Orleans Jazz on the Charles Bridge in Prague.

Rebecca and Sunny in Wenceslas Square. The National Museum is in the background.

Jewish Quarter & Jewish Cemetery

There was once a very large Jewish community in Prague, but now the numbers are much smaller. The Jewish Quarter is a short distance north of the Old Town Square. There you find a number of interesting synagogues including the Spanish Synagogue built in 1868 and the Old-New Synagogue built in the 13th century. The Spanish Synagogue has a Moorish dome. The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest European synagogue in use today. The stones of an ancient temple at the same location (The Old) are said to have been used in building the present building (The New). The Jewish Town Hall has two clocks. The lower clock has Hebrew letters, and the clock runs backwards compared to the standard clock above it. Both clocks are pictured below.

Jewish Town Hall with clocks in Prague.

Jewish Town Hall with clocks.

The Old Jewish Cemetery, shown below, is regarded as one of the most important sights to see in Prague. It was the burial place for jews from the 15th century into the 18th century. Due to limited space bodies had to be placed upon top of other bodies. There can be as many as a dozen people buried one above another. This leads to lots of Tombstones close together, one in front of another. The tombstones record a lot of history, and their placement in the cemetery so close together, some leaning, and all very old, creates a view that is both interesting and spiritual.

Old Jewish Cemetry in Prague.

A few of the many tombstones in the Old Jewish Cemetery.

Folk music & dancing

One evening we were entertained with Czech folk music and dancing during dinner. The music was great to listen to and the dancing was of high quality. The music included nice vocals and solos on some musical instruments that we had never seen before. The dancers did many dances dressed in different attire representative of their culture. It was very interesting and a great evening. Note the pictures below.

Czech folk musicians in Prague.

Czech folk musicians


Czech folk dancers in Prague.

Czech folk dancers.

Melnik

About 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Prague is Melnik. The Vltava and and Laba (Elbe) Rivers meet here, and are seen from the Melnik Castle. It is an attractive view, as seen in the picture below.

Melnik Rivers in the Czech Republic.

The Vltava and Laba (Elbe) Rivers meet in Melnik. View from Melnik Castle.

 

Melnik is wine country. Vines were brought from Burgundy, France and planted at the request of Charles IV. Ludmila wines are made from these grapes, named after Princess Ludmila of Bohemia; she was born in Melnik. For centuries the castle has been controlled by different noble families. Since 1739 it has been owned by the Lobkowicz family. In addition to touring the castle we were taken to the wine cellar where there was wine tasting, as can be seen in the picture below.

Powder Tower in Prague.

Wine tasting in the wine cellar of the Melnik Castle.

River Cruise Budapest to Prague

The river cruise on the Avalon Waterways Tapestry began in Budapest where we spent two nights. For a stretch of 58 miles (93 kilometers) west the Danube River was the dividing line between Hungary to the south and Slovakia to the north. Next we cruised through Austria, then into Germany. The seven-night cruise ended in Nuremberg. We were then taken by motor coach to Prague where we spent two nights, and which is described here. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. Contact Us for more information.

River Cruise Prague to Paris

We were on a Globus Avalon small-ship river cruise tour that started in Prague where we spent two nights, and which is detailed here. From Prague we were taken by notor coach to Nuremberg, Germany to board the Avalon Waterways Tranquility for our seven-night cruise through Germany. For a description of the ship and onboard activities see the Avalon Waterways Ships. For a summary of the daily excursions in each of the towns visited as well as some beautiful scenes viewed from the ship while cruising go to Germany. The tour ended in Paris where we spent two nights. Contact Us for more information.

Photos by Sunny Breeding. Picture of Rebecca and Sunny by Bob Garrison. We sell images and prints.