After the fall of the Berlin wall millions of people from the west sped to the Czech republic and specially its capital Prague. And with some reason. This central European country really has a lot to show and Prague is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the whole world. The ancient tradition of brewing beer (Budweiser was originally a czech beer) makes your stay in the country an even more enjoyable one.
The Czech Republic is situated approximately in the geographical center of Europe and has an area of 78,866 sq. km. It is a landlocked country 326 km from the Baltic and 322 km from the Adriatic. It shares borders with Germany (810 km), Poland (762 km), Austria (466 km) and Slovakia (265 km). The highest point of elevation is the peak of Mt. Snezka (1,602 m above sea level) and the lowest point of elevation is near Hrensko where the River Labe leaves Czech territory (117 m above sea level).
Prague is a very beautiful city. It’s one of the few central European cities that survived the second world war without the destruction of all the monuments.
After the fall of the iron curtain Prague teamed up with the rest of Europa at a remarkable speed. As a result it has become the most expensive city in eastern Europe, but it’s still a lot cheaper than the old europe.
The main sights are located close to each other in the old town (Stare Mesto). East of the Old Town Square is Obecni Dum a gem of art-nouveau style. Some of the best shopping in the Old Town is on Celetna Ulice.
The center of modern Prague can be found at Wenceslas Square which was the site of the demonstrations that led to the overthrow of the Communists.
Museums to visit include the Mozart Museum , the Museum of the City of Prague and the branches of the National Gallery.
A funicular railroad takes you to the gardens atop Petrin Hill.
Daytrips from Prague can be taken to Karlstejn Castle, Kutna hora; the medieval town of Tabor and Terezin (Theresienstadt) a World War II concentration camp and political prison.
When in Prague, make sure you visit the Mucha Museum. Mucha was famous for his modern art; his work has a very distinctive character to it. The museum was opened in 1998 and was very long-awaited. There are many museums to visit in Prague, but a lot of art can be seen by just walking around Prague and looking at its beautiful buildings. Tourists should check local papers for special exhibits. Prague host many special exhibitions of internationally famous artists. Recent exhibits included Annie Liebowitz and famed Czech illustrator, Josef Lada.
The Mucha Museum presents the works of the great Czech artist, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), the master of Art Nouveau. A comprehensive cross section of works loaned by the Mucha Foundation including lithographs, paintings, drawings, pastels, statues, photographs and personal memorabilia.
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Panská 7, 110 00 Prague
The Toy Museum
Jirska ulice (Prazsky hrad), Praha 1. A clever idea, this one. When the children are whining about having seen too much culture in the castle and surrounding grounds you can bribe them off with a trip here.
The Wax Museum
28. rijna, Mustek, Praha 1. Open daily 10.00-20.00. Here it costs 99 Kc for adults and 49 Kc for children. I say ‘Museums’ because there are actually two of them within walking distance of each other.
Zbraslav, Praha. This is a Cistercian monastery situated in the village of Zbraslav, about 11 kms outside Prague. It is another large depository of Czech history, with many 19th and 20th century sculptures. The gardens are spectacular and make a superb venue for a summer’s day picnic.
Museum of Decorative Arts
17. listopadu 2, Praha 1. Phone: +42 (0)02 2481 1241. Open: Tues.-Sun., 10.00-18.00
Could be a great museum as they have great stores of Art Deco in store somewhere. Unfortunately, for reasons best known to themselves, there is only a little on show. Therefore it is not desperately impressive more..
The Museum of Military Resistance
Hradcanske namesti 2, Praha 1. Open: Tu., Wed., Thu., Sat., Sun.: 9.30-18.00
The Czechs are famous for their resistance to invading forces (and unfortunately they have had a lot of practice). This museum is primarily to show how the Czech resistance operated during the Second World War.
The Jewish Museum
Jachymova 3, Praha 1. Phone: +42 (0)02 24810099. Open: Mon.-Sat.: 9.00-16.30 The Old New Synagogue, which bears the dubious distinction of having been chosen by Hitler to be a ‘museum to an extinct race’ is actually part of three museums on the site. It is also one of the oldest in Europe.
The Smetana Museum
Novotneho lavka, Praha 1. Open: Mon., Wed., Sun., 10.00-17.00. Bedrich Smetana is a major name in Czech culture. He was one of those who helped to develop the Czech identity and his music is very moving to most Czechs.
Podskalska Custom House
Rasinovo nabrezi, Praha 2. Open: Wed. Thu., 10.00-12.30, 13.30-18.00. This located by the river for the reason that it houses a history of the steam engine and its uses for navigation. The building has been a centre for sailers and boatmen in general for many years.
Naprstek Museum (Asian, American and African Culture)
Betlemske namesti 1, Praha 1. Phone: +42 (0)02 2421 4537. Open: 9.00-12.00, 12.45-16.30
Why anyone would want to travel to Prague from North America to see a museum about Red Indian culture is beyond me. But maybe it is good for a particularly rainy day.
The Prague Jewellery Collection
A new, attractive jewellery exhibition may be seen at one of the loveliest spots in the old part of Prague. It is housed in the former Hergetova Cihelna (the Herget Brickyard Building) near Charles Bridge in the Lesser Town.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic and a very attractive place. The two hills of Pertov and Spilberg dominate the town. On top of Petrov you find the dome of Saint Peter and Paul, on top of Spilberg a series of baroque fortifications. In the centre of the city at the foot of the hills, renaissance houses and palaces as well as interesting churches abound. Highhlights include the house of lords of Lipe, the Ditrichstein palace, as well as the house of the Lords of Kunstat and the old gothic town hall, where the Brno Dragon hangs in the throughway.
Brno is also an important cultural centre. It is the residence of the State philmaronic orchestra Brno, famous Janacek (string) quartet, the Moravian Land museum with dependent Memorial of Leos Janacek, Etnographic museum, Mendelianum (museum of Gregor Mendel) and Pavilion Anthropos (exhibition of prehistory of mankind). Other museums and galleries are Museum of City of Brno, Museum of technology, Museum of culture of Romanies (gypsies), Cabinet of veterinary medicine, Tiflopaedy Museum and Moravian gallery. There are ten theatres of various sizes and repertoire in Brno.
Karlovy Vary, or Carlsbad as it was formerly known, is an important Spa. The town boomed in the 19th century and many of the attractions date from that period. So even if you are not interested in thermal baths, the town is absolutely worth a visit.
In the second half of the 19th century many metropolitan style buildings were erected – proud bathhouses and hotels, the Town Theatre, the savings bank, the post office, churches.
There are lookout towers, pavilions, and gazebos built in spa woods in the town surroundings. Architectural nature of this historical period is most strongly influenced by a pair of architects, Fellner and Helmer. Contemporary architecture is represented by the building of Thermal Sanatorium and The Hot Spring Colonnade.
Karlovy Vary is also home to an annual international film festival and is the origin of Becherovka, a locally-made liqueur with reported health benefits.
Plzen is the capital of Bohemia and is a place of pilgrimage for every one who likes beer: this is were Lager was invented! In many languages the name for lager is derived from the German name of this city: Pilsen. Hardly surprising that one of the main attractions in town is the Beer Brewery
But there is a lot more to see. The historical city centre is dominated by a slim tower of the Gothic St. Bartholomew Cathedral, which is with the height of 102,26 m (335 feet) the highest church spire in Bohemia. Many other old mansions are to be found on the square of the Republic and in the area around it. The town hall at the southern end of the square of the Republic is absolutely worth a vist.
Along the crooked Prazka street, you will find many more interesting Gothic and Renaissance buildings, most of which were modified in Baroque style.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.