There are many cities in Europe that have maintained their old-world charm and Prague is certainly one of them. There are so many interesting buildings in Prague that display various styles and unique features. One of the things that makes the architecture of Prague so fascinating is that it encompasses several styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque. From the castle complex that looms over the old town of the city to the many unique towers throughout the city, there is so much to see. Even if you never stepped foot inside one of the amazing buildings, you could walk the streets for a couple of days and still find yourself in awe of the stunning architecture.
From the moment that we arrived in Prague, we focused our cameras at the façades of the buildings as we walked through old town. One of the reasons that the architecture of the city remains so diverse is that it was not destroyed during WWII and therefore didn’t need to be rebuilt like many other European cities. The Romanesque architecture is based on what you would expect, the style of the ancient romans with symmetrical designs, round arches and towers. This style of architecture spans back to the 9th century and lasted for about 400 years.
Prague, like a lot of cities throughout Europe, was highly influenced by the Gothic architecture of the 13th century. With the flying buttresses and pointed arches, the Gothic style can be found in more than just the St. Vitus Cathedral in the castle complex. Between their dark exteriors, gargoyles, and imposing size, the buildings seem to demonstrate the power of the church and put fear in the hearts of regular citizens. Today, these buildings are truly fascinating with all of the intricate details and impressive towers.
Perhaps not surprisingly, following the Gothic period, the Renaissance architecture was lighter and more appealing. Based on Greek and Roman architecture with columns, symmetrical and geometric features, they are bright and open. Starting in Florence in the 15th century, the Renaissance style also features statues that were also influenced by the ancient works of Greece and Rome. These buildings provide quite a contrast to the darker Gothic buildings of the city.
There are other styles of architecture to be found in Prague that include Baroque, Classicism, and Historicism. Regardless of the period, walking the streets of Prague is truly a trip back into history. The contrasting styles located in such close proximity to each other, makes the experience even more fascinating. The architecture of Prague is part of what attracts so many visitors every year and has put the city on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
One of our favorite cities in Europe is Prague in the Czech Republic. With its medieval charm, you could spend hours wandering the streets of old town or the lesser quarter with the castle complex. There are many wonderful sights to see, but these were our favorite ones in no particular order. Because Prague is a popular tourist destination, you can certainly count on plenty of crowds wherever you go.
Prague Castle – Some of the best views of the castle complex can be found from across the Vltava River where you can get a true sense of its size. Seeing it from the distance isn’t good enough, though, you should take the time to go to the castle and get tickets to tour the grounds and inside. The castle complex is made up of several buildings from the fortress, presidential palace, smaller palaces, as well as several churches.
Charles Bridge – With its impressive guard towers, two on the side of the lesser quarter and one on the side of old town, the bridge is truly stunning. There are many statues, all of which are replicas of their original ones, making it one of the most unique bridges in Europe. Throughout the year, you will find musicians playing historic instruments as well as many different artists selling their works all along the bridge. It can get quite crowded on the bridge, so patience is a must.
Astronomical Clock – Located in the old town square on the southern wall of the town hall, the Astronomical Clock is quite fascinating to see. Crowds gather at the top of the hour to watch the “Walk of the Apostles” where the figures of the Apostles and other figures, including a skeleton representing Death, move around the clock face.
Saint Vitus Cathedral – Although it is part of the castle complex, the cathedral certainly stands out as being worthy to visit on its own. With its Gothic architecture, it is the largest and most important cathedral in the Czech Republic. The colorful artwork above the arches definitely stand out as you approach the cathedral. The clock tower is clearly visible from all around the city.
Old Town Square – With many shops and restaurants, there is plenty to see in the old town area of Prague. Although there is plenty to see in the square itself, be sure to wander the side streets where you will find even more stores with unique items for sale. If you are wanting to taste some authentic, local food, many options abound, but you will likely want to make reservations as they can be hard to get into at busy times of the year.
The Lennon Wall – What started as a tribute to John Lennon after his death, the wall has continued to be a dedication to the artist, the Beatles, and to ideals that they expressed. It is an ever-changing work of art as people continuously add to it with their own interpretations. You will also often find artists there playing songs from the Beatles as well.
River Boat Cruise – As with many cities, seeing Prague from the Vltava River is a wonderful way to get a different view of the city. Many of them offer dinner cruises or even an afternoon cruise offering wine and beer. Even without the narrative providing the historical facts regarding the buildings along the river, it is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two on the water.
There are certainly plenty of other places within Prague that are worth visiting, but these were ones that we enjoyed the most. We didn’t make it to any museums during our trip, but there are plenty, including the National Museum, if you have the time to spend to see the various exhibits and collections. Regardless of what sights you decide to see, Prague is a beautiful city and is best enjoyed at a relaxing pace in order to truly enjoy everything that it has to offer. Make sure to take time to slow down and absorb the sights and sounds, you will enjoy the city much more than if you rush from one historic site to another.
One of the most amazing places we visited during our time in Europe was the Prague Castle Complex. There are many beautiful castles throughout Europe, but the sheer size and number of structures on the grounds of Prague Castle made it one of the most fascinating. Dating back to the 9th century with new additions being added throughout its history, the complex has the castle fortress, palaces, gardens, cathedrals and churches, a monastery, as well as several defense towers. This is definitely one of those places that you could visit several times and still see something new every time.
Seeing the castle complex from Charles Bridge is one of the most iconic sights that you will ever see while traveling around Europe. Once you cross the bridge, you enter a city of its own that surrounds the castle. We were on a walking tour, so we didn’t get to go inside of the Royal Palace, the St. Vitus Cathedral, or St. George’s Basilica, but there is so much to see just walking around the grounds. We were there during the off-season and the crowds were still very large and the lines to enter the palace were several hours long and the cathedral was closed during our visit. If you have the time and are willing to wait in the long lines, based on what we have heard, it is worth it to see the luxurious grandeur that awaits you when you enter.
Walking through the complex, the spires of the St. Vitus Cathedral dominate the skyline and it is a wonderful example of a gothic cathedral. And yet, somehow, it felt unique compared to many of the other gothic cathedrals that we have seen in Europe. There are so many incredible details on the exterior of the cathedral that you are treated to something new around every corner. The colorful fresco above the doors of the cathedral was one of the more interesting features that we saw as we toured around the complex.
The views from the castle complex are amazing and you are treated to an incredible cityscape that overlooks the ancient red roofs with the modern city of Prague off in the distance. After leaving the palace and cathedral, you walk through the narrow streets of the Golden Lane as well as streets lined with shops and restaurants. Everywhere you look, your eyes are greeted with the fascinating architecture of Prague. There is so much to see in this wonderful city, but visiting the Prague Castle Complex is certainly one of the highlights of any visit. If you want to capture the memory forever, stop at the stand of one of the many artists that are on Charles Bridge and purchase an original piece of art at a reasonable price that captures the sights of Prague.