It’s not often I wander into a new city under the crisp cover of night. The darkness within the unfamiliar streets can be disorientating, and the narrow lane ways and hidden back alleys seem intimidating rather than captivating. Prague however belongs to the night. This pristinely preserved museum of gothic architecture, combined with baroque, art nouveau and every other style ventures into the realms of fairytale post sunset in a way that no other city can match.
The buildings are lit perfectly so as to just cast highlights across the textured facades, the church spires standing illuminated above the rooftops. The cobblestone paths wind continuously in every direction, beauty hiding behind every corner. The old town square bustling with eager eyes and street performers creating atmosphere, while the smell of mulled wine and sugar dances in the air.
In such a geographically small space Prague is filled densely and diversely.
The best place to start this city is in the heart; the Old Town Square. Expansive it is lined with restaurants and filled with street food stalls creating the perfect place for people watching both day and night. It’s dominated by the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, that Prague landmark that makes it way across the globe postcard after postcard to be displayed on fridges in every continent.
The Old Town Hall is the perfect option for climbing to embrace the city views and to try and make sense of the scattered arrangement that the old town is. Again, this is best climbed at night. It also is home to the oldest working astronomical clock in the world, dating back to 1410. It is beauty over practicality, unless you study up on how to read the complex arrangement of symbols and numbers prior to viewing. Otherwise I suggest you don’t forget your watch.
The other famous land mark is the Charles Bridge. I stumbled here again post sunset, with the lamp posts illuminating the dark, and a sole accordion player dusting the black night with gothic notes. The later you come here the more entrancing the scene, as the tourists of the day scatter and you have the masterpiece (slightly more) to yourself. You’ll also see the Palace illuminated, which is in some thanks to The Rolling Stones, after gifting the first lights.
Crossing the bridge takes you to the Palace, which is more an expanding arrangement of palace, churches, cathedrals and magic houses making up ‘the golden lane’. Tours here are available although it’s more enticing to explore solo. The Cathedral is almost identical to the Notre Dame, the stained glass is a rainbow wonder. The views across Prague are outstanding. The homeless man protesting at the gates is possibly the best person in Prague and the mulled wine is the most delicious you will find (drink up).
This side also houses the famous ‘John Lennon Wall’, a graffiti wall were you may leave a touch of your heart (legally).
You’ll also stumble on parklands dotted with almond trees, their fallen treasures hunted out by the older, local women and are the perfect place to relax amongst the autumn leaves. The streets here leading up the hills toward the palace hold a mix of Czech, International and Vegan cuisine. Amongst the savoury can be found the local sweet specialty Tredlnik, a chimney shaped sugary bread best smothered with nutella.
For a day trip to escape the constant flow of foreign faces Kutná Hora is only a 1 hour train journey from the central station. Its main attraction is the Sedlec Ossuary, a bone cathedral home to the remains of some 40,000 people. It’s beautiful in its macabre, as death is re-imagined in to a sculptural masterpiece.
You’ll also find St Barbara’s Church, which despite my church fatigue still managed to wow me with its outstanding gothic details. You can also see a less crowded, less bridge like (read; not a bridge) version of the Charles Bridge. It’s home to similar statues and a stunning view to the hills and low lying villages behind.There is no place in Europe like Prague. No place with such diverse and divine architecture. No place with such good mulled wine. No place with such charm. Maybe it is the spiced delights of that red devil speaking but Prague did capture my heart for all the right reasons I promise. x