Have a Pra-ha Moment in the City of Spires
This is the city of spires, and as soon as you exit the main train station Praha Hlavni Nádraží you’ll get a taste for the gothic architecture. The station is conveniently located near Wenceslas Square – aptly named for the patron saint of Bohemia and a hub for the hip and tourists alike. In 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, this boulevard was lined with demonstrators exalting freedom. The outcry for democracy has led to the city being the most westernized and tourist-friendly of all the Eastern bloc cities.
Head out to Lesser Town for the city’s true architectural gems. Ignore what the name implies, as there is nothing less about Mala Strana. The Old Town Bridge Tower, a 14th century gothic structure that stands so tall, it serves almost as a compass no matter what your location is in Central Prague. Crossing the Vltava River is the famous Charles Bridge, decorated by a continuous alley of 30, mostly baroque-style statues that were erected around 1700. This leads you to the 9th century Hradcany Castle – one of the world’s biggest. And yet, inside you’ll find romantic little nooks and quiet corridors. After experiencing all this beauty, you may have something of a metamorphosis – perhaps discovering you’re more of a traveler and not a tourist. Where better to make this revelation than in the city of Kafka. Take a tour of his home at 22 Golden Lane.
See more Baroque, more Art Nouveau, more avant-garde – for less – with the Prague Welcome Card. Enjoy free entry to more than 30 historic sites, museums and galleries, plus discounts at hotels, shops and restaurants. Once in Prague, easily get around without fumbling for koruna in your wallet. The card gives you three days of unlimited use on public buses, trains and subways, including the famous funicular railway to Petrin Hill and suburban routes too. Kafka had said, “Praha will never leave you.” With this card, you can bet on it.
Outside the Czech Republic capital there are more treasures to discover. With a Eurail Czech Republic Pass, take a 45-minute train ride to one of the country’s most famous landmarks: Karlštejn Castle. Created in 1348, this Gothic edifice was built by Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV as a place for safekeeping royal treasures including his collection of holy relics.
The Czech Republic is at the heart of Europe – both culturally and geographically, making the country the ideal starting point for seeing other European gems that have emerged from the Iron Curtain even more majestic. For instance, take the City Night Line train to Cologne. This route is appropriately nicknamed Phoenix. Perhaps because it stops at a city rising from the ashes of the past.
Contributed by: Adam, Travel Consultant for Rail Europe