Sitting on the Celebrity Cafe terrace in the chic neighbourhood of Vinohrady, not far from downtown, I’m people-watching, enjoying the Gothic and cube-shaped buildings around me and the tramways that pass by continuously. It is extremely warm for a mid-September evening, one of those ephemeral, magic moments that holiday memories are made of.
Located in the Bohemian region of Central-Europe and intersected by the Vltava river, Prague is a magnificent city. It was liberated from a communist regime during the Velvet Revolution and became a popular tourist destination in the late 90s. The historical centre is on the UNESCO world heritage list. This architectural jewel with its Baroque, Gothic, and modern styles, is the capital of Czech Republic. Clean and relatively quiet, despite a bustle of activity, Prague looks like a postcard.
Despite a language barrier, Prague is easy, affordable place to visit, and it is now green. There are several high-quality restaurants, and those with organic fare are quite popular. Their metro and tramway system is efficient, but beware of taxis. On the way to my hotel, the driver warned me to “only take yellow taxis, because other taxi drivers are thieves.” To my surprise, you have to watch out for ALL taxi drivers. Several charged me outrageous prices for short trips; they don’t start their meters and dislike being told to do so either.
Those passionate about architecture and history will love Prague, and so will couples in love. It’s good to start early in the morning: visit the castle, the Jewish cemetery, Gothic churches, museums, and then finish your day with a walk on Parizska Street where you will find high-end restaurants, terraces, and luxury shops. I recommend visiting one of the terraces that face the castle and the Charles Bridge in the late afternoon for a cold refreshing beer. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful view of the city.
Prague is also known to have some of the best night life in Central Europe. If that’s what you’re looking for, there are several discos with international reputations in the centre of town close to Narodni, an important commercial street. On weekends, that’s where the action is! Prague is a beautiful city, and so romantic that I’d happily go back with someone special!
The Prague Dancing House, a lovely example of modern architecture, or very modern, integrated with the old.
For those who dream of having a waterfront apartment in a European capital, it’s as beautiful on the Vltava as it is on the Seine or the Thames, but considerably more affordable.
I love the disorder in this photo that represents the character of the city so well. This is Praha Hlavni Nádraží, Prague’s main train station.
Prague is also known as the city of a thousand spires. Tyn Church is centrally located, close to the old town.
The water mill: one of the focal points of the City.
The Jiràskuv Bridge: All boats pass along this small canal. On Detsky ostrov (Children’s Island), the smallest island in Prague, is Rezava Kotvà, a very nice tapas bar.
Another view of the Charles Bridge that is accessed from the Old Town or from the castle. There are plenty of lovely terraces to stop at along both shores of the river. A very popular tourist area.
This is the classic, essential Prague: the Pražský hrad castle, located on the Hradeany (Castle) Hill, and the Charles Bridge. How could you resist stopping to contemplate such a beautiful site?
Text et photos: Paul-André laroque