Prague

Prague Attributes

Prague has always played an important role in the history of the nation, the country and the whole of Europe. She has cherished the reputation of one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has been paid tribute by outstanding personalities. During centuries she had been given various attributes:

Prague, the City of One Hundred Spires - this attribute was probably given to Prague for the first time by writer Josef Hormayer at the beginning of the 19th century. Prague towers were first counted by mathematician and philosopher Bernardo Bolzano and he got to the number of 103, without counting water towers and private houses. Right now Prague has around 500 spires.

Prague, the Heart of Europe - Prague is situated in the center of Europe, it is 600 km away from the Baltic Sea, over 700 km away from the Northern Sea, as well as from the Adriatic Sea.

Golden Prague - this attribute may date back to the period of Charles IV, the Czech King and German Emperor, when the towers of the Prague Castle were gilded. Another theory says that Prague got this attribute during the reign of Rudolf II who supported alchemists in their quest for gold. Then in 1882 Prague Mayor Tomas Cerny depicted Prague in his speech at the Town Hall as "Golden and Slavic". Since 1884 a magazine called Golden Prague had been published and in its opening poem Adolf Heyduk, a well-known Czech poet, used this expression.

Stony Prague - this attribute was given to Prague by merchant Ibrahím ibn Jakúb, a member of a delegation to the German emperor in the 10th century, in his book of travels in which he depicted Prague admiringly as a "town built of stone and lime".

Praga tocius Bohemiae domina - Prague, the Lady of the Czechlands - this expression was used by Kosmas, the renowned Czech chronicler in 1119. Another similar attribute is Praga mater urbium - Prague, the Mother of Towns.

Praga caput regni - Prague, the Head of the Kingdom - this expression was used during the Middle Ages, but the first person who speaked it out, according to the chronicle, was Jan Pasek of Vrat, who became the Prague Mayor and reigned over both the Old Town and the New Town. In 1518 he had this slogan written on the building of the Old Town Hall, where it can be still seen today, though its author died in oblivion.

Prague, the Rome of the North - if Rome was built on seven hills, then Prague was built on nine hills: Letna, Vitkov, Opys, Vetrov, Skalka, Emauzy, Vysehrad, Karlov and the highest of them - Petrin.

Tips to visit in Prague

Prague represents a unique collection of historical monuments dominated by the Prague Castle which towers high above the city. It is a specimen of all artistic styles and movements. The historical core of the city is situated on both banks of the Vltava river and consists of 6 parts - formerly independent urban units unified in the 18th century. They are as followed: Stare Mesto (Old Town), Josefov (the preserved part of the former Jewish Town - today a part of the Old Town), Nove Mesto (New Town), Mala Strana (Lesser Town), Hradcany and Vysehrad. Naturally, most of the historical monuments, museums and galleries are concentrated right there.

Prague Castle, river Vltava and Charles Bridge (Prazsky hrad, Vltava, Karluv most)

Places of the Prague Castle accessible to the public:
  • The Royal Palace (Vladislav Hall, Old Parliament, equestrian statues, Czech and Court Chancellery, Theresian Wing)
  • St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral with its St. Wenceslas Chapel and the tomb of Czech Kings
  • St. George Basilica, St. George Monastery
  • Prague Castle Gallery
  • Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower
  • Powder Tower called Mihulka
  • Lobkovic Palace
  • Queen Anna´s Summerhouse
  • Royal Garden with Ball Games House
  • Prague Castle Riding Hall
  • Prague Castle Gardens
Charles Bridge

The oldest Prague bridge was founded by Charles IV in the year 1357. Both ends of the bridge are fortified by towers. From 1683 to 1928 thirty sculptures and sculptural groups of the saints were gradually set on the bridge piers (M. Braun, F. M. Brokof, etc.) The bridge is 515 meters long and 10 meters wide.

Lesser Town Bridge Towers on the Charles Bridge.

The smaller, Romanesque one dates back to the 12th century, the taller, Gothic one is 200 years younger. From its gallery you get a beautiful view over another historical part of Prague - the Lesser Town. Inside the tower you can find the exhibition concerning the building of the Charles Bridge.

On the other side of the Charles Bridge you will find the Old Town Bridge Tower - the most beautiful Gothic tower in Central Europe, built in 1357 together with the Charles Bridge as the fortification tower as well as the arch of triumph at the Coronation Path of Czech kings. The rich sculpture decoration at the East facade of the tower corresponds with its aims. Inside the tower there are precious exhibits from the Prague Metropolitan Museum collection called the Music of Tower Galleries.

Prague Jewish Town - Prague Ghetto (Zidovske mesto)

It dates back to the 13th century but its present appearance is mainly the result of a vast redevelopment action undertaken between 1893 - 1913. Only a few most significant buildings were saved, the living testimony of the history of Prague Jews which lasted for many centuries. Yet these buildings form the best present complex of Jewish historical monuments in the whole Europe.Six synagogues remain from this old settlement which includes the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery - the most remarkable in Europe.

The 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 Tyn the square has several other dominants, the baroque St. Nicholas church, the Stone Bell house - a gothic city palace from the 14th century, and the Memorial to Master Jan Hus. The very place where the 27 Czech gentlemen were executed on 21 June, 1621, is marked in the square pavement. The Prague merdidian can be seen not far from there.

The Old Town Hall

Since the 14th century the seat of the Old Town administration. The oldest part of the building with historical halls, a tower, a bay chapel and a rich coat-of-arms decoration dates back to the Gothic period.

The tower bears a unique astronomical clock from 1410 which shows the statues of 12 apostles at every hour between 9 a. m. and 9 p. m.. Other figures of the Vain Person, the Miser, the Death and the Turk move too. There is a Tourist Center and the Center of Foreign Language Guides in the building, run by Prague Information Service . Access for the disabled.

The monumental, richly decorated Gothic Powder Tower dating back to the 15th century was built as a part of the city fortification. Coronation processions of Czech kings were passing through the gate heading towards the Prague Castle. Later on the tower was turned into a warehouse of gunpowder. Visitors may admire an interesting exhibition of the Prague Towers concerning the origins and purpose of the towers. (run by the Prague Information Service)

St Nicolas' Church (Chram Sv. Mikulase) on Malostranske namesti

This church, built in the period 1704-55, is the most significant historical structure of the so-called Prague Baroque.

The slim tower of the St Nicolas' Church offers, besides a beautiful view over the Lesser Town, a permanent exhibition called the Music of Prague Choirs commemorating an important musical tradition of the city and its churches. (run by the Prague Information Service)

The Petrin Maze

Originally a pavilion of the Czech Tourist Club at the 1891 Universal Exhibition, transferred later to the Petrin Hill and turned into a mirror maze, is a favorite spot of all children. Access for the disabled. (run by the Prague Information Service)

The Petrin Tower

The Petrin Tower is a 60m iron tower built for the 1891 Universal Exhibition as a smaller version of the Paris Eiffel Tower. There are 299 steps leading to the top. Remarkable view from this unique Look-out tower. Access for the disabled. (run by the Prague Information Service)

Church of Our Lady of Victory - the Prague Bambino

An early baroque building from the year 1611, 1634 - 1669 rebuilt by the Carmelite Order. The church is world-famous thanks to the Prague Bambino - Infant Jesus wax figure (of the Spanish origin), which was presented to the church by Polyxena of Lobkowicz (1628).

Loreta

A Marian pilgrimage place with a copy of the Italian Santa Casa including also the baroque Church of the Nativity of Our Lord.  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.

Vysehrad

Ancient legends situate the original seat of the Czech princes - the legendary Princess Libuse and the first Przemyslides - on the hill. Among noteworthy sight there are the precious romanesque rotunda of St. Martin, the gothic church of St. Peter and Paul, the Vysehrad cemetery used as a burial site of the Czech outstanding personalilties.

More information on Prague

If you want to read more, you can also download Prague - The Heart of Europe [3.8MB; MS PowerPoint].