Prague

Prague is located on a Paleolithic site, meaning humans have been in this location from up to 100,000 years ago to around 12,000 years ago.

Various tribes inhabited the area since its surmised founding around 1306 B.C. Circa 500 B.C. a group of people called the Bohii settled here, which caused the area to be called Bohemia, or 'The home of the Bohii'.

Circa 50 B.C., Germanic tribes started forcing everyone out (sounds like a pattern starting...). What most would consider to be the classical European era started circa 880 A.D. when the Prague castle and expansion of the walled settlement began in earnest.

The city is home to the Bohemian kingdom, and, given its easy river access and overland travel, it became very large trading and merchant hub as well as one of the primary Jewish enclaves in Europe.

When the Holy Roman Empire came into existence, Charles, the king of the Empire and Bohemia starting in 1346, made Prague the imperial capital. Even with the Catholic leadership, Prague was staunchly Protestant, which lead to a purge of their church leadership by the Catholic victors. Purge, as in all killed, no attempts at conversion.

1600-1800 were turbulent times with fires, plagues, wars, and various maladies for a city of such economic importance. With the fall of the Roman Empire, the area became part of the Austrian Empire, and Bohemian culture experienced a revival.

Losing out in World War I, the Hapsburgs lost control of the area and it became more of a democracy, known as Czechoslovakia. It wasn't impacted harshly by the devastation of the war, and was doing fairly well in the 1930s depression also.

Prague was "acquired" by Hilter in a bloodless coup. Since Europe feared another war should they protest, this began a very long time of occupation and oppression of the city, first by the Germans, then by the Russians. Any signs of dissent were put down violently until the 1980s.

The late 80s brought the Velvet Revolution, a non-violent dismantling of communist rule, and the nation became a parliamentary republic. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic (also called Czechia) and Slovakia, separate sovereign states. Prague remained the capital of Czechia. The city was largely spared destruction during both World Wars as well as the numerous shifts in governmental control and revolution. As you can see just in this preface, Prague has an incredibly long history that has been by-and-large preserved.

The Arrival

We drove in from Munich, Germany across Bohemia. As you hit Czech Republic, you must acquire a road toll sticker to use the highways. Also at the border, Latin western script ends and now it's all Latin Czech script. This is not conducive to an individual who took German and Spanish for years. I was able to pick out Praga on the signs, and actually got into the center core without an extreme amount of pain.

Apple maps on my iPhone was not particularly helpful finding a parking spot, but I noticed an Intercontinental hotel, and I knew they would take a major credit card and would have parking, so then it was on foot to see the city.

Prague

We walked to the Old Town Square, the center of the city's tourism, full of huskers and 'characters' much like Times Square. It was actually quite annoying, but a great spot to start your exploration of the city. Almost everything costs to get in, because you know, money. Tour groups are here trying to pick up, well, mainly people like you, here on their own. I can't say if they are worthwhile or not, but it's not how I prefer to see a city. I try to get purposefully lost and wander to discover things.
City Hall
The martyr Jan Hus, burned alive for trying to reform church beliefsAstronomical Clock, intensely complicated movements for Sun, Moon, Phases, and moving characters. Over 600 years old and still ticking
They might hate Communists more than Nazis
We then went northeast down a street called Dlouha, out to Revolucini which has street cars on it, then down that road for a bit.
Surprisingly, this is a shopping centerInteresting humanist detailsHome of world class performances
Very popular lunch area with localsOne of the many medieval towers protecting access the old cityMuseum of the city of Prague
This attitude was all trip long
Wandering eventually got tiring, so it was back through towers and markets to the square to find lunch. Not the most cost-effective but since Prague is a Mastercard city (their EU hq is there), and not knowing what would serve what, we opted for the tourist sin of a Hard Rock cafe.

A great local and tourist mixed market one block off the Old Town Square
Navigated back to the square successfully
After lunch it was over to the new town side to see other things.
Music venue on the river for a lot of classical performancesSt. Vitus church in the royal castle, high upon the hill
The mighty Vltava RiverWorld famous for the flocks of swansThe bridge
Someone not too happy with aggressive birds the same size as herThe New TownControlling access to the Charles Bridge
Then across the Charles Bridge back into Old Town.
The Charles Bridge, by Charles II during his reign One of many of the statuary added long after the bridge was built
Significant merchant portal to the city, many tourist shops around here
That was pretty much the end of everyone's energy and tolerance of walking (I'm a hard driver, and sometimes it's difficult for the kids to handle), so we made the 4 hour drive back to Munich.

Summary

Prague, while ancient, is primarily a medieval city. Unscathed by the major world wars, things are quite intact and picturesque. People are pretty friendly, a very walkable city, although the streets are confusing. Public transportation is pretty decent but I would not say the city is saturated by it; you will have to walk.

Full of almost countless museums, some definitely geared towards tourists (sex machine museum??), there are many things to do to fill at least a couple of days. It's not super expensive here, hotels are reasonable, and there's great train service to the rest of Europe. It does have an international airport but flights seem to be very expensive. My personal technique would be to fly somewhere cheaper and take a train in, which brings you much closer to city center anyway.



Related blog posts

Innsbruck Austria - Posted: 2020-08-20
Dachau Concentration Camps - Posted: 2020-10-15
Monaco - Posted: 2020-04-02
Venice - Posted: 2020-03-26
Coburg Germany - Posted: 2020-04-16
Paris - Posted: 2020-05-14
Munich Germany - Posted: 2020-07-16
London - 2014 - Posted: 2020-09-03