The city is absolutely covered in fabulous buildings leading to it being a world UNESCO heritage site so you may be tempted to photograph every single building!
- National Museum,
- New National Museum
- Museum of Asian, African, American Art
- Antonio Dvorak (composer) Museum (didn’t visit)
- Bedrich Smetana (composer) Museum etc (didn’t visit)
There is a big push after spending so much time being ruled by the Austrian Hungarian empire and then the communists to assert a Czech culture. The country has only existed for 30 years and you can watch many videos in the passage between the National Museum and the New National Museum as well as inside them.
The Astronomical Clock Tower is well renown as being a sight to see but unless you catch it on the hour you miss a lot of its beauty like we did. For a view over the city you can go into the Old Town Hall all the way up to the Tower but we didn’t feel like paying for that so we just climbed up to the third floor.
The Powder Tower is another place you can enter but I don’t think it’s possible in winter. The Municipal Building next door houses an art exhibition too but it wasn’t modern enough for hubby to want to go look at it.
The Museum of Miniatures is a place we looked high and low for but it’s not where Google says it is so we consoled ourselves with the Strahov Monastery at the top of the hill.
I went to the Castle as many others do but it’s quite a walk up the hill and if you pay to go up the tower it’s even more exercise as it’s 287 steps! Unfortunately all of the parts of the castle require you to pay to go in and since they mainly contain 15th century art we didn’t want to look at them. We had already been to the Borek Sipek Glass Museum in the bottom of the Dancing House so we knew the style of the renovated interior decor. You can instead look inside the St Vilnius Cathedral and marvel at the multicoloured windows
The oldest bridge Charles Bridge is nearby as is the John Lennon wall notable for its peace protests similar in nature to the Berlin Wall.
The oldest street in Prague, Celestna which is just before the Central Art Museum, Town Hall and clock contains a brewery which we went to of course, the Chocolate Museum, Steel Creatures Museum and Czech Cubist Museum. I wanted to go to the Cubist museum as well as the Franz Kafka museum and the Communist museum to compare that with Berlin but you have to make compromises based on your shared interests, energy levels and time.
If you like unusual art visit the Kampa Island Museum which has exhibitions by local artists. These are quite mind bending in what they cover and this seems to be a style of Czech art. There are also installations all around the city by a local artist which include Sigmund Freud hanging from a street side which many people think is a suicide waiting to happen.
Talking of Freud you can visit the Sex Machines Museum but we didn’t think it was worth entering as every museum is a paid ticket.
There is lots of illusion based museums in Prague but I believe the best one is the Museum of the Senses. This is suitable for children and is based on optical illusions and other tricks of the eye like perspective changes. It’s very hands on with lots of puzzles to solve.
When I went to the Central Museum I was able to learn about Salvador Dali and (Andrew Warhola) – Andy Warhol. These were both very famous artists in there time even though Dali was Spanish and Warhol was born in the United States to CzechSlovak parents later on found out to be Carpathian.
This means that the city also claims a link to Steve Jobs with the Apple Museum through Steve Wosniak. I didn’t manage to visit this one though as there is only so many art galleries and museums you can take in at once.
I visited the Wow Black Light Theatre show to see a style of theatre unique to Prague. This is suitable for children and since it’s practically language free suitable for all regardless of your linguistic background. It is like going to a neon ballet as it’s told through music, sounds, interpretive dance, costume and sets. It is also interactive too so watch out for the smoke, snow, bubbles, balls and Spiders!
Another treat for children is to take them to a puppet show as there quite a speciality here but we didn’t feel like indulging in that. Failing that take them to the Lego museum Museum of Steel Creatures, or buy them a chimney cake with ice cream inside.
In the Museum of Asian, African and American Art it’s Czech founder realised that if you saved a language you saved a culture. Therefore he endeavored along with his contemporaries to get people speaking Czech, to write Czech and to perform using the language.
In the New National Museum there is an exhibition of playbills over the years documenting the change that took place from being based in the German style and just translated into Czech to original works and eventually newer styles as they became available.
Most of the identity of the Czech people was previously co opted from Germany due to its proximity. So the cuisine is very Bavarian in style. It’s not what I like pork knuckle/knee, sauerkraut and dumplings but they love it so much you get 3 different types in a meal. I avoided it as much as possible as even pork scratchings are completely different here.
The Czechs are not really into craft beer so when you go to places you quite often get very limited choices like you used to in the UK. Mostly you will come across a light beer which I often didn’t think much of but which is much better than the UK version proving Pilsner Urquell/Starpromen doesn’t travel well, dark which were quite tasty, an unfiltered light which was hazy and a mixed or half and half. This was a unique style where they pour in half of the light without the big head that they usually make from the fast pouring style and then half a dark. I didn’t try it but I’m told it’s good and my hubby had 3 one after the other so can’t be that bad.
We didn’t manage to go to the beer museum surprisingly but we did go to the Monastery by the castle which has the best beer and on a different day to U Fleku which is the oldest brewery. This last one is a bit of a tourist trap because apart from the fact they just hand you out one type of beer or you get introduced to Czech spirits which are like fire water there isn’t much going on. They are Becherovka which is either herbal or there is a cinnamon variety and Slivovice (Plum Brandy). In another pub nearby we tried a variety of beers not found elsewhere like Banana, Nettle, Sour Cherry, coffee and a dessert beer.
If you like a cocktail you can visit Crazy Daisy’s which is done in an 18th century style with fancy cocktails and bar equipment but they haven’t quite worked out there concept yet as they want to be all things to all people. An 18th century cocktail bar/club isn’t really a possibility.
We also went to The Alchemists bar (not the museum by the castle) which holds a competition to win about $4k if you get all 12 of the keys from around the city and solve the riddle within 24 hours. Nobody has solved it yet as you need to drink to get the keys so teams are required and since you pick a card you may get the same one.
With such a packed schedule we didn’t get time to shop for crystal or glass which is a famous Czech product, to visit the parks, radio tower, take a river cruise or go north of the river to places like the zoo.
One thing to beware of though is that weed is not legal even though you will see it in many shops and in many forms. This is CBD not THC so won’t get you high and may not even contain anything worth spending your money on. The shopkeeper will smile at you if you look interested in it thinking stupid naive tourist. There more than happy to take your money for what is essentially tourist tat.
It’s also odd that I didn’t hear that much Czech being spoken but I think that’s probably down to the fact that my ear was not accustomed to the sounds of the language. I learnt one word on the first evening I was here dik we (Thankyou) which the hotel waitress told us when we asked and then no more. I heard what seemed like Russian far more from tourists and even occasionally shop keepers. I heard German and French too.
I didn’t find Czech people particularly welcoming or friendly but then I couldn’t converse with them in anything but English so that’s always a barrier. English is usually the language of money not the heart even though English is not in itself a language known for its warmth. Neither are English people so I guess it shows how German we really are as that’s our origins too.