Prague, Czech Republic and Staré Město

By walking through the streets and alleys of Prague, it is easy to see how thousands of tourists fall in love with the city each year. Each building facade radiates an aura of history, the many shops and cafes that line the streets, and the friendly easy-going citizens of a city that straddles between the East and West.

Prague has two major areas in old town and new town; or Staré Město and Nové Město respectively. Besides Prague Castle, most of the sites of Prague are south of the Vltava River in these two areas.

Staré Město

The old town area of Prague is where most tourists are gathered. It holds the old town hall and the Jan Hus monument in a nice open square bordered by restaurants, cafes, and shops. The old town hall actually has a cool astronomical clock that runs a neat glockenspiel-type show every hour. The Jewish Quarter is also in this area. You can see the Old-New Synagogue there.

It is also where the Charles Bridge connects to Prague Castle on the north side of the Vltava. They say that the bridge is the most beautiful at night. I never had the discipline to wake up that early when I was there. But I was there at sunset. Walking from the southern end to the northern end you see many vendors and entertainers. There are vendors selling jewelry and artists selling landscape paintings of the castle. It is quite lively with the golden glow of the setting sun dancing beams of light off the waters of the river.

Nové Město

The new town is not exactly new. It was founded in the fourteenth century. There are just as many cafes, restaurants, and shops in new town without the swarms of tourists. There are some neat things to see in new town. There is the colorful Jerusalem Synagogue with a technicolor facade. Although it is outside of the Jewish quarter of Josefov, it is worth it to come see it. Also, in the new town is the Frank Gehry co-designed building of Dancing House. There is a bit of controversy surrounding this building as it doesn’t fit into the Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture of the rest of Prague. Some sources say that it is a symbol of Prague’s entry into the modern era. Others say it’s an eye sore. Personally, I like the building, but I wished it was somewhere else in Prague.

Parting Words

Prague is a great walking city. I highly recommend just wandering the town without a map. If you see something interesting, go and see what’s going on. Even if you do get lost, most locals do speak some English and will steer you toward the right direction.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.