Our roving reporter Sian Collins takes in the sights and sounds of modern Europe in a series of guides for those looking to plan an enlightening journey… On a budget.
Prague has a reputation for cheap nights out and, although there is no shortage of opportunities for this, there is the potential for a more cultural experience too. As theft from tourists is common in this thriving, busy capital, a bum-bag is an excellent, if unappealing, investment. Wear it under your clothes with your important documents and money in it. Stories and rumours of crime are vastly exaggerated, however, so it shouldn’t deter you from visiting this beautiful country.
Karluv Most – or Charles Bridge – traverses the Vlatava River, joining two parts of the city. At each end stands a Gothic tower, and thirty statues of various saints line the bridge’s walls. This is a lovely place to promenade, especially at night when you can look out at the reflections of the city’s lights on the water.
- Caricaturists and street portrait artists are to be found pitched along the length of Charles Bridge, and even if you don’t fancy it yourself, it can be entertaining to take a peek at what they’re up to, to the soundtrack of the local buskers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bridge
Far from being a castle in the traditional sense, this hotchpotch of buildings demonstrates architectural variety from an assortment of centuries. The blue-coated Castle Guards, the Czech equivalent of the grenadiers outside Buckingham Palace, stand proudly at the entrance to the castle complex, and the cathedral and towers are not to be missed.
- Golden Lane, once home of the state alchemists, is characterised by the quaint, tiny houses along its length, some of which have been turned into shops, others of which can be viewed, by crouching through the weeny door, as they were in their prime. Prague Castle even offers a student discount. https://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/prague-castle-tourist-information/visit-of-prague-castle.shtml
The Old Town Square’s fantastic astronomical clock, named so for its representation of celestial bodies, is one of the greatest draws of the city. The mechanism was installed in 1410, making this the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the oldest still functioning. The upper clock-face shows the hour in 24-hour Central European Time, Old Czech Time and Babylonian Time, whilst other dials detail the positions of the sun and moon within the zodiac and the current lunar phase. The lower clock-face is a calendar which informs the onlooker of the zodiac season, and the current saint’s day (although it’s more than a little out of date).
- Every hour, on the hour, the clock comes to life. Windows in the stone face above the clock open to reveal statuettes of the twelve disciples passing by; symbols of four deadly evils are animated; and a golden cockerel nods in the new hour. This attracts quite the crowd, for good reason! http://www.czechtourism.com/c/prague-astronomical-clock/
The Unmissable - Free walking tour of the city. The copse of umbrellas amassed by the astronomical clock is hard to miss. Several companies offer free tours, and at the end you just pay whatever you thought the tour was worth (if that’s nothing, so be it, but it’s probably polite to give a small donation). These take two or three hours and are a terrific opportunity to learn about all those buildings you’ve been passing without a second glance. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g274707-d1959500-Reviews-Prague_Royal_Walk_Free_Tour-Prague_Bohemia.html
The Probably-Missable – Prague pub crawl. Each to his/her own, but if you decide on a pub crawl, go in with your eyes open. These are aimed at hardcore drinkers, and many crawlers turn up already drunk. Running every night of the week, group sizes can reach up to a hundred and fifty people, so bars can be incredibly crowded. In saying that, this is undoubtedly a good chance for a cheap drinking and clubbing experience. http://www.pubcrawl.cz/en/prague-pub-crawl
Images By Moyan Brenn