One of Europe’s most beautiful cities is Czech’s capital, Prague—a destination that should be at the top of your list. Not only does the city have a deep history that dates back several thousand years, but it’s also stunningly beautiful, thanks to the centuries-old architecture and mix of cultures that framed it into what it is today.
The first known inhabitants in the region was a Celtic tribe in 500 BC, then came the Slavs in 500 AD. For a long time, Prague was under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, which at the time saw an influx of Jews in the 17th century. In the 19th century, The Holy Roman Empire ended, and Prague then became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the 20th century, Nazis took over the city and later, Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia and was under communist rule. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split peacefully, and Prague was declared the capital of the Czech Republic. Even though the city has gone through a lot of highs and a few lows, it’s developed into one fascinating city with a nickname of “City of a Hundred Spires”. This is based off a 19th-century count of spheres throughout the entire city (however, the amount of spheres today is around 500).
For those of you who have planned to take a vacation in this magnificent city, here are some hidden gems we recommend we add to your list of must-sees.
Strahov Monastery, built in 1140, is one of the oldest monasteries in Prague and was reconstructed throughout the centuries due to the repercussions of several wars. One of the best sections in the monastery is the library, full of ancient books, both religious and educational, totaling more than 200,000, ranging from the years 1501 to 1800.
Aside from the books, there are other noteworthy things to see such as the intricate design of the library and the Wunderkammer, a.k.a Cabinets of Curiosities. Here you’ll find a collection of crafts, random objects, insects, minerals and even waxed fruit that has been encased in glass. Why the wax fruit? It’s a mystery that may never be solved.
This very small museum is a real hidden gem, and although there are only a few rooms, it’s definitely a very interesting one. Speculum Alchemiae, or Museum of Alchemy, offers its viewers a glance into the city’s medieval period when alchemists were at work to “produced [the] elixir of eternal youth”.
This underground laboratory was only discovered in 2002, yet is over 300 years old, and is also located in the second oldest building in Prague. The museum is open every day from 10 am to 6pm, and the tour is only 30 minutes, however, it will leave you with even more knowledge that you may not have discovered elsewhere about the city’s past.
Europe is known for having some beautiful cemeteries, which brings us to Olšany Cemetery, established in the 17th century. This is one of the largest cemeteries in the country and caters to people from various religions including Catholic, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish.
Olšany Cemetery is also home to soldiers from various time periods, including the 19th-century Napoleonic Wars to 20th-century WWII. There are more than 230,000 people buried and over 65,000 graves, each with its own story. Walking through the Olšany Cemetery is quite fascinating and erringly beautiful. If you have yet to visit a European cemetery, this is one that shouldn’t be missed.
Finding a good Czech cuisine isn’t too difficult in Prague, but if you’re looking for a unique experience, we recommend Restaurant Peklo. Located on a hill, the restaurant is built inside a rock and was once a monastery. The interior is not like anything you can find elsewhere, with its rock and brick walls surrounding a cozy and comfortable setting. Their spring water is sourced right out of its very own well, which is over 800 years old. You can dine on a variety of delicious dishes including goulash, beef entrecote, roasted boar, crispy roasted duck, and golden-roasted pork knee. And if you haven’t already, make sure to taste Czech’s local beer!
If you’re up for a good night out after dinner, head over to Reduta, the first jazz club in Europe established in 1957 during the communist regime. The club has seen a variety of famous guests including Bill Clinton and Václav Havel and has been voted one of the top 10 jazz clubs in Europe. It’s a terrific and very amusing place to end the night on a good note (no pun intended).
Prague is a magical European destination with so much history and wonderful gems that will leave a mark on your entire trip with memories to last a lifetime. If you’re thinking about a getaway to Prague this year, consider some of these top sites to add to your visit there.
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