There are few cities in which the past feels as vividly present as in Prague. With a rich architectural heritage that includes buildings from the Middle Ages onward, Prague’s historic centre is a powerful draw for history buffs seeking an authentic glimpse of times past. The quaint cobbled streets, dreamy bridges and fantastically-preserved buildings form a brilliant backdrop against which to imagine the dramatic events of Prague’s history unfolding, and all add considerably to the romance of this world-class destination.
If you’re visiting Prague in search of historic attractions, you’re in luck – the city boasts dozens of ancient bridges, buildings and squares, many of which are within easy walking distance of the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel, Prague. If you’re a first-time visitor or only have a short time to explore the city, here is our list of the top historic attractions in Prague:
1. Prague Castle
No visit to Prague would be complete without a trip to the world’s largest castle complex. Centred on three spacious courtyards, the vast complex has been home to kings, emperors and presidents for centuries, and has always played an important role in the city’s history. Highlights include the famous St. Vitus Cathedral, an impressive Gothic structure in which you’ll find the richly decorated St. Wenceslas Chapel, as well as the Bohemian Crown Jewels; the 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace (now a museum); and the Golden Lane, a 15th-century street whose historic buildings now house recreated period displays.
2. Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock
The colourful heart of the city’s Old Town, which has been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Centre since 1992, the Old Town Square is one of the most picturesque locations in all of Prague. The buildings which skirt its edge provide a fascinating cross-section of every architectural style found in the city, from medieval Gothic to Art Nouveau. However, its most recognisable feature is the 15th-century Astronomical Clock set in the façade of the Old Town Hall. Each hour the clock attracts a crowd of observers keen to catch the mechanical display of miniature moving figurines on its face.
3. Charles Bridge
Due to its strategic position linking the two banks of the Vltava River, Charles Bridge has played a key role throughout Prague’s history, both as a thoroughfare for the city’s inhabitants and an important scene of military stand-offs. Built by King Charles IV in the 14th century, the bridge was decorated with its famous statues depicting religious and historical figures from the late 17th century onward. It’s well worth taking a stroll across the bridge to admire the statues and the views over the city – be sure to pause and touch the reliefs beneath the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, as this is said to bring good luck.
This massive complex of buildings has been a gathering point for some of the greatest minds of Europe since the 13th century, and nowadays offers a fascinating mix of historical and architectural delights within its walls. Climb the 172 steps to the Astronomical Tower for breath-taking views over Prague, or attend a classical concert in the ornate 18th-century Mirror Chapel, where Mozart himself once performed. The Klementinum is also home to the Czech National Library, which is made up of some 16,000 books dating back to the 16th century.
5. Jewish Quarter
Wedged between the river and the Old Town Square, Prague’s Jewish Quarter dates to the 13th century, when the city’s Jews were forbidden from living anywhere but in this neighbourhood. It now contains some of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Europe, including the 13th-century Old-New Synagogue, the oldest functioning synagogue in Central Europe. You can also visit the Jewish Town Hall, several other historic synagogues and the atmospheric Old Jewish Cemetery, which dates from the 15th century. Most of the sites (except the Old-New Synagogue) are accessed with a ticket from the Jewish Museum.