I arrived in Prague New Year’s Eve, excited to meet up with people for the fireworks show. There are two fireworks shows one on New Year’s Eve and one on January 2st. January 1st is Czech Independence Day.
After two days of partying, I finally made it out to see the city. In my hostel, I was lucky to get a great group of people together! Two people from my home state and two Canadians. I didn’t realize Canadians liked scaling up walls like mountain goats but you learn something new every day! The Canadians only had one full day in Prague so we had the mountainous task of trying to see everything possible in one day.
I’m so glad we asked our hostel for directions because he actually told us a different route than the guide books. We started off the day by taking the tram to Strahov Monastery. From the monastery we walked down to the Prague Castle. The monastery was founded in 1143 and it known for also having a wonderful brewery on site. Sadly, it was too early for beer but the monastery has a lovely viewpoint. The trick is to stay ahead of all the tour groups by taking photos quickly and jogging at a safe distance.
Prague Castle is the largest castle in Europe, according to The Guinness Book of Records, at a 70,000 meters in area. It dates back to the 9th century. There are a lot of things to see at the Castle. You don’t have to pay entrance to enter the grounds. You have to buy a ticket and price depends on how much you want to see. We did circuit B: Golden Lane (has shops and an armory), Basilica of Saint George, Basilica of St. Vitus (has some royal relics), The Old Royal Palace and Daliborka Tower. The ticket was 125 CZK or 4.62 Euros. There’s also a great market with great food. It took about 3 hours to get through the grounds including lunch. I had traditional latkes!
After that we walked to the John Lennon Wall. In the 1980s, The Czech Republic was still under communism. As the other countries around them were becoming more and more democratic, the working class was buzzing with ideas of freedom. Then one day someone painted a portrait of John Lennon on this wall in protest of communism. The city covered it up. Then someone else painted over it. The city covered it up again. Then more people came to tag the wall. Finally, the city gave up. The wall became a place for people to write their grievances and plea for an end to Communism. Then there was the Velvet Revolution from November 17th– December 29th, 1989. The Czech Republic became officially independent January 1st, 1993.
A group called The Knights of Malta purchased the wall to allow everyone the opportunity to
decorate it and preserve its historical significance. November 17th 2014, a group painted the wall white to indicate the wall was no longer needed. The Knights of Malta were pissed and sued the art students. Eventually the Knights of Malta dropped all charges. The wall now is continuously changing and a consistent symbol of freedom. This wall was replicated in Hong Kong. Now it’s a major sight that inspires everyone.
After a proper photo opportunity at the wall we went to the Lennon Café. We needed to recuperate a bit. Then we took the tram to Old Town to see the Astronomical Clock. The clock is a symbol of Prague. It is roughly 600 years old. And since it’s so old there are some weird legends about it. A man, Master Hanus, may have built the clock in 1410. The city was so excited for this magnificent clock however people soon feared he’d make another. Then Prague would be less unique. So the councilors of Prague sent men in the middle of the night to blind him and hinder him from ever making a clock so magnificent again. (what jerks!)
Why is it so magnificent? When the clock rings at every hour the 12 apostles greet the city. On one side of the clock is a skeleton with a bell, a Turk shaking his head and a rooster ringing a bell. Another legend says, the first crow in the morning scared ghosts and demons therefore protecting Prague. The clock is so complicated because it shows not just the time but week, month and year.
Then eventually made it to Wenceslas Square. By then it was cold and we took the metro back to our hostel. We made a nice dinner and enjoyed some wonderful Czech beer. Then we went to a bar near our hostel called Cross Club. Later I found out the club is actually a social center for alternative music in the Czech Republic.
I did spend a week in Prague so more posts about Prague to come. However if you only have 24 hours, I think it is a great itinerary. However I think 3-4 days is a better amount of time.
Things I Wish I did: If I go back to the Czech Republic I would spend a few days in Brno and see Kutna Hora. Hang out in Chapeau Rouge, a bar I walked into during the day. Also I would have gone to Petrin Hill there’s a view, a mirror maze and more. Prague is now probably my second favorite European city. Berlin has my heart still as my favorite.
In closing, do not miss this city!