My 48 hours in Prague starts with a gaunt skeleton called Death. I am lost in the annals of time as I stand there along with millions of other tourists watching a spectacle right in the middle of the Old Town Square, one of the places to see in Prague. Death stands ready to toll the bell on the oldest functioning clock – the Astronomical Clock, one of Prague top attractions. He tells the other figures who represent Greed, Vanity and Lust that their time is up as well, but they refuse to budge. As the Twelve Apostles parade, the entire pageant is over in just 45 seconds.
There is romance and charm oozing all around but we have just two days in Prague. When the Bohemian king Charles IV became the Roman Emperor , the city apparently became a power centre.
Our itinerary of just 48 hours in Prague takes us into the heart of the city where we will get high on beer, say hello to Franz Kafka, go on a ferry ride, do a jig at the Dancing House and meet some golems in the night.
However if you are passionate about a particular aspect of Prague and you want to see it from an insider and an unique perspective then you must definitely sign up Withlocals and go for some amazing Prague private tours led by locals who share the same passion as you.
But first, let me tell you a story which revolves around one of Prague top attractions.
If you are like me, interested in the supernatural then you will love the story of the golem, a virtual symbol of Prague. I was in the Jew Town near the Old Synagogue , one of the places to see in Prague when I heard the tale.
In Jewish folklore, a golem refers to a statue that can be brought to life. The Golem of Prague was created by a Rabbi to protect the Jews from being attacked and killed. But the Golem slowly became a powerful monster. The Rabbi then decided to lock him up in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue and with his magical alchemic powers, he snuffed the life out of him until he became dust.But there are many twists to the tale.
Apparently one of the Rabbis brought him back to life , but another legend says that the attic is believed to be spooked even now, though the relics of the Golem were never found. But if you are walking anywhere in Prague at night, well, you may never know – the Golem may still be lurking somewhere in the dark.
I am just kidding. Prague is beautiful by day or by night. But if you have just two days in Prague then here are some of my suggestions on what cannot be missed.
A view of the universe through The Astronomical Clock
It is not just a show stopper but a mini planetarium in itself. There is the astronomical dial with the sun, moon and the universe, the zodiac circle with the stars and planets and a calendar dial too. A fascinating story talks of a prisoner, who was a rich noble awaiting his death sentence. But just before his conviction, he saw a sparrow caught in the jaws of Death. When the figure of the Skeleton opened its mouth, the sparrow managed to escape and fly away. And just then as the clock chimed, the noble was set free too by the Council of Prague. For many people, the Skeleton then became a symbol of hope.
Get charmed by The Old Town
There is more to the Old Town than just the Astronomical Clock. At the heart of the Old Town Square stands the Old Town Hall which is a fascinating monument. Climb the 70 metre tall tower and look at the 1000 year old skyline and you will understand why Prague is dubbed as the “The Golden City of Thousand Spires.” Several medieval homes in beautiful colours are stitched together and each one has its own story.
The names are fascinating as well – as you have the Gothic Cock House , the Minute House or you can be “At the Blue Goose or “At the Red Fox House among many others. If you have the time then head to the Tyn Church, the Baroque Church of St Nicolas, the Rocco Kinsky Palace, the Jan Hus Monument, Clementium, the Powder Tower, the Municipal House among others.
And if you like quirky museums , then visit the Museum of Historical Toilets and Chamber Pots, and the Sex Machines Museum, one of Prague top attractions.
A peek into history at the Jew Town
The Jewish Quarter , one of the best places to visit in Prague has been home to the community since the medieval era and you can visit about six synagogues here. The Old New Synagogue is the oldest while the most ornate is the Spanish synagogue, built in a Moorish style of architecture. Also visit the Franz Kafka monument, dedicated to the author. There is also a museum across the river, in the Lesser Town.
Stories and the Charles Bridge
Named after the Roman Emperor who laid the foundation stone, this is my favorite spot in all of Prague. Standing on this historic bridge, one of Prague tourist attractions and watching the ferries cruise down the Vltava River, I am lost in the atmosphere, filled with artists, street performers and musicians.There are thirty sculptures dotting the bridge and one of them is that of St John of Nepomuk.
He was apparently thrown into the river under the orders of the king as he refused to divulge the secrets of the queen who had confessed to him. Standing on 15 arches and pillars, the bridge took over 50 years to be completed.
There is one colourful wall that you would not want to miss, which is close by dedicated to John Lennon. If you have just 48 hours in Prague then Charles Bridge must be on the itinerary.
Lesser Town – an ode to beauty
Referred to as Mala Strana, one of the places to see in Prague this settlement lies across the river and it is the prettiest part of Prague. The Nicholas Church is the most popular church here but I would recommend the Carmelite Church.
The wax-coated wooden statue of Infant Jesus is one of the main attractions here as many tourists come to take a peek at the beautiful wardrobe of the little statue designed by Carmelite nuns. While you are here, head to the Petrin Hill , one of Prague top attractions where you can climb the tower to get some great views.
Prague Castle – which is actually a district
It is the largest castle complex in the world where the Bohemian jewels are hidden inside a secret room. You can spend an entire day here. Dating back to the 9th century, the entire castle complex has several churches, palaces, museums, gardens, halls, towers and other monuments spread over 70,000 sq metres of space.
The Church of Virgin Mary was the first to be built here, followed by the Basilica of Saint George and Basilica of St Vitus a century later. The towering St Vitus Cathedral built in the Gothic style dominates the entire castle complex with its magnificent architecture. This is one of the best places to visit in Prague according to me, if you have just 48 hours in Prague.
The 700 year young New Town
The youngest district of Prague dates to the 14th century. Walk around the Wenceslas Square , one of the places to see in Prague which was once a horse market. Head to the Dancing House popularly known as Fred and Ginger. The architect was apparently inspired by the dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And before leaving the New Town, stop at Uflecku, one of Prague top attractions. It is believed to be one of the oldest breweries in the city which has been brewing beer continuously for over 500 years and it has over eight halls besides a garden.
Prague is a picture post card come alive and everywhere you go, there is a tryst with history which explodes in nooks and corners, while stories echo from the walls. I wish I had more than 48 hours in Prague but am sure that I would come back here. What are the best places to visit in Prague according to you ?