|Charles Bridge | Daliborka Tower | Estates Theatre | Golden Lane | Klaus Synagogue | Loreta | Mihulka Powder Tower | Old Jewish Cementery | Old-New Synagogue | Old Town Hall | Old Town Square | Prague Castle | Rudolfinum | St. George´s Basilica | St. Vitus Cathedral | St. Wenceslas Square
The oldest Prague bridge built in the place of the Judita´s Bridge that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. Originally called the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge, since 1870 it has been known as Charles Bridge, in honor of its founder, Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. By the latest researches, construction was started by Master Otto and finished by king Charles’ favorite constructor and architect, Peter Parler (who also built St. Wenceslas Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral and The Old Town bridge tower). The Charles Bridge was finished in 1402. Both ends of the bridge are fortified by towers, the two Lesser Town Bridge Towers and one Old Town Bridge Tower. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards.
The 30 predominantly Baroque statues and statuaries situated on the balustrade form a unique connection of artistic harmony with the Gothic bridge beneath. Most of the sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714 and represent various saints and patron saints. The most prominent Bohemian sculptors of the time, Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maximilian, contributed to decorating the bridge. Notable among the sculptures one can find the statuaries of St. Luthgard, St. Crucifix or St. John of Nepomuk. Legend has it that touching the statue of St. John of Nepomuk will make your wish come true. Today, parts of the statue are polished from countless hopeful hands and many years of wishing.
Daliborka Tower, a famous Prague prison, was used for incarceration until 1781. It was built by Benedict Reid in 1496 and although was initially designated only for nobility, Daliborka eventually held people of all ranks. The tower earned its name after Dalibor of Kozojedy – the first inmate from 1498.
Dalibor was a young knight who was imprisoned in the tower’s dungeon for sheltering a group of rebellious serfs. Such an act could not be pardoned and had to be paid for dearly. According to legend, Dalibor learned to play the violin whilst awaiting his death in the dark, inhospitable prison. Prague people heard his touching music and sympathized with his plight. They came to listen to his sad tones and took mercy on him by offering food and drink. Some say that he was so popular that the authorities feared to announce the date of his execution. Regardless, one day the violin fell silent and the legend of Dalibor grew. Czech composer Bedřich Smetana imortalized the story in his famous opera Dalibor, which premiered in Prague on May 16, 1868.
Today one can see how doomed inmates were lowered to their cells by ropes and pulleys - there were no doors to escape from and the dungeon walls are 2.6 meters thick. You’ll find the Daliborka Tower behind the Prague Castle, at the End of Golden Lane.
The Estates Theatre in Prague is one of the most beautiful Classicist style theatres in Europe and its appearance has remained practically unaltered since it opened in 1783.
Its name, however, as well as its ownership, have since changed many times. Aristocrat František Antonín Count Nostitz Rieneck, fueled by a desire to enhance the charm and culture of his native city, had the theatre built. In less than two years the theatre opened and its first play, the tragedy Emilia Galotti by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was performed on April 21, 1783.
On October 29, 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni at the Estates Theatre. A plaque outside the building commemorates the occasion. That opera had been partly composed in Prague as well, as Mozart loved the city and it was his favorite. Another Mozart premiere, La Clemenza di Tito, was played here on the occasion of the coronation of Leopold II.
In 1934 a musical comedy - Fidlovacka - was performed here for the first time. Co-writers František Škroup and Josef Kajetán didn’t know at that time that one of the songs - Kde domov muj? - (Where Is My Home?) would later become the Czech national anthem.
The Estates Theatre is connected with many other great names, such as the conductor of the theatre orchestra Carl Maria von Weber, who was also a cousin of Mozart’s wife Constanze, singer Angelica Catalani, violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini, also Anton Rubinstein, Carl Goldmark, Gustav Mahler and many others.
Today, the Estates Theatre offers a rich program of operas, dramas and ballets. Be sure to visit this uniquely historical and architectural landmark. Walk just a few minutes from subway/metro station "Můstek" (lines A and B) towards Old Town Square. At the end of the street "Na Můstku" turn right.
Small houses built in the gothic fortification; the 16th century homes of castle riflemen and craftsmen. In 1916 - 1917 Franz Kafka used to work in No. 22.
Dating back to the mid 13th century the Klaus Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Central Europe and its gates are the oldest in Prague. The early Gothic style gives a great impression of how many of Prague´s buildings once looked. There are many legends about this building, one claims that angels carried the stones from which the synagogue is built and have protected it ever since (the synagogue has survived two large fires). The synagogue was renovated in the 19th century and is still used for religious services. It is interesting to note the strict separation of the sexes during services, where the synagogue itself is reserved for the men, while the women must follow the service through small windows.
A Marian pilgrimage place with a copy of the Italian Santa Casa (G. Orsi, 1626 - 1627) including also the baroque Church of the Nativity of Our Lord (K. I. Dienzenhofer, 1734 - 1735). The ground is encircled by a cloister and chapels. The spire houses a carillon which consist of 27 Loreta bells which tune a Marian song We Greet You a Thousand Times (every hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The most valuable item of the liturgical treasury is the so-called Loreta Treasure, a collection of sacral object from the 16th to 18th centuries. The most famous of these is the Diamond Monstrance adorned with 6 222 diamonds.
Mihulka Powder Tower
A tower - having a diameter of 20 m and 44 m high, comes from the 15th century, part of the castle fortification. It used to serve as a gunpowder depot, now it houses new permanent exhibitions and armoury presenting several periods of the military history on the Czech territory.
Old Jewish Cementery
Established in the mid-15th century it served as a burial site till 1787. Among 12,000 gothic, renaisance and baroque tombstones are also those of Rabbi Jehuda Löw (1609) and Mordechai Maisel (1601).
The oldest preserved synagogue in the Central Europe. It was built in the early gothic style in the late 13th century and richly adorned by stonework. Also the inside furnishings (gothic wrought-iron grill, wrought chandeliers) are of ancient origin. Up till now it has served as a house of prayer and the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community.
Old Town Hall
Established 1338 as the seat of the Old Town authorities. The oldest gothic part of the complex which includes a tower and an oriel chapel is richly decorated with coats of arms. It was built in the latter half of the 14th century. In the top part of the astronomical clock (early 15th century) the 12 apostles appear every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m The bottom part was supplemented with a round calendarium including the signs of the zodiac painted by Josef Manes (1865). The eastern pseudo-gothic wing of the Town Hall was destroyed on May 8, 1945, and has not been rebuilt yet.
Old Town Square
The most significant square of historical Prague. It originated in the 12th century and since then witnessed many events. Beside the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady before Týn (see a special heading) the square has several other dominants, the baroque St. Nicholas church (K. I. Dienzenhofer, 1732 - 1737), the rococo Kinský palace housing the National Gallery exhibition hall, the Stone Bell house - a gothic city palace from the 14th century - now the Municipal Gallery concert and exhibition rooms, and the Memorial to Master Jan Hus sculptured by Ladislav Saloun
(1915).The very place where the 27 Czech gentlemen were executed on 21 June, 1621, is marked in the square pavement.
The Prague meridian can be seen not far from there.
National cultural monument, the symbol of more than millennial development of the Czech state. Since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the past eleven centuries. It is a monumental complex of ecclesiastical, fortification, residential and office buildings, representing all architectural styles and periods, surrounding three castle courtyards and covering 45 hectares. Originally it used to be the residence of princes and kings of Bohemia, since 1918 it is the seat of the president.
A Neo Renaissance building constructed in 1876 - 1884 (J. Zitek, J. Schulz), originally designed for a picture gallery, collection of antiquites and concerts. In the years 1918 - 1938 and 1945 - 1946 it housed the National Assembly. The Czech Philhramonic Orchestra found its seat there in 1946. The main hall - the Dvorak Hall - is world famous as a place where the Prague Spring music festival concerts take place every year.
St. George´s Basilica
The oldest preserved church building of the Prague Castle. Its romanesque architecture is in the best state of preservation among all similar buildings in Bohemia. Founded in 920 by the Prince Vratislav I, it was rebuilt in the 12th century. The facade gained its present baroque appearance in the 17th century. Outstanding are the chapels of St. John of Nepomuk and St. Ludmila. St. Ludmila was the grandmother of St. Wenceslas and the first Czech Christian martyr.
St. Vitus Cathedral
A gothic cathedral, the spiritual symbol of the Czech state, founded in the year 1344 by Jan Lucembursky (John of Luxembourg) and his sons Karel (Charles) and Jan Jindrich (John Henry) in the place of the original romanesque rotunda. The construction proceeded according to the plans of Matthias of Arras (until 1352), and then Petr Parler (1356 - 1399). The construction period protracted to nearly 600 years and it was finally completed in 1929. Decorated by precious works of art it encloses St. Wenceslas´ Chapel and the Crypt with tombs of Bohemian kings. The coronation jewels are deposited here, too.
St. Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is one of the most popular places to stay in Prague. Tourists are attracted to the shopping, entertainment and nightlife all around, along with the fact that most of Prague´s sights and attractions lie within easy walking distance. From Wenceslas Square it is possible to walk anywhere in central Prague. The 750m long and 60m wide boulevard that makes up Wenceslas Square was laid out over 600 years ago during the reign of Charles IV and was originally used as the main Prague horse market. Over the years it has been a regular parade ground for all kinds of organisations and political parties. From anti-communist uprisings to winning the World Ice Hockey Championships, this is where Czech´s come to protest and to celebrate. Wenceslas Square can comfortably hold up to 400,000 people! At the top of Wenceslas Square, the statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse cuts a striking figure. This is good King Wenceslas (Vaclav), murdered over a thousand years ago by his brother, and now a Czech national hero. Behind St. Wenceslas is the monumental National Museum. Nearby is the famous Prague State Opera. In front of the statue of St. Wenceslas are two plaques in memory of those killed during the Communist period. One is dedicated to Jan Palach, a 20-year old student who set himself on fire in January 1969, in protest of the Soviet invasion.