Prague, a city where details blend in with colors

Prague is maybe the most beautiful European city I have visited so far. It entices with its narrow medieval alleyways and winding streets that take you back to another century. The soft, smooth colors frame the abundant, attractive details that decorate the buildings, representatives of different historical time periods and architectural styles.

Around every corner you turn, there is something stunning,

simply striking, to see.

The city is divided into separate sections, all equally fascinating. Our hotel, one of the many 4-star hotels offering double rooms with breakfast at a very affordable price (around 60 euro per night), was located in the Malà Strana district (Lesser Quarter).

It is a quiet neighborhood close to the castleand about a 15-minute walk from the Charles bridge crossing the river to the historical city center, known as the Old Town

Walking around the Old Town, you will come across some of the highlights of the city. Many of them are located either on or around the main square(Staromêstské Nàmêsti).

The most prominent building is the tower of Old Town City Hall with its astronomical clock. The piazza is framed by the Church of Our Lady before Týn and other historical buildings (House at the Stone Bell, Kinský Palace, St Nicholas Church) that in December encircle the colorful Christmas market.

In addition to the Jewish cemetery and synagogues, the Jewish district has some magnificent buildings that are the result of experimental new styles carried out by local architects at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many of the edifices represent either Art Nouveau or cubist style.

The New Town has a misleading name since it was founded as early as in 1348 around three market squares (Senovàzné, Charles and Venceslao). Merchants and craftsmen lived in this district until to a great extent it was destroyed and reconstructed at the end of the nineteenth century. That is when it acquired its present aspect. The façade of the Grand Hotel Europe is one of the many splendid examples of  Art Nouveau style in this district. This is the area where the main theatres are located (the opera and national theatre), some museums (national museum, Mucha, and Dvoràk) as well as numerous historical breweries.

Museums:

Sternberg Museum, located close to the castle, has a nice collection of Italian, Flemish, Dutch and German art. One of the highlights is Agnolo Bronzino’s Eleonora di Toledo (c. 1540). It is a simply astounding piece of art.

Worth visiting is also the Mucha museum (Panskà 7) in the New District. It is dedicated to the variety of Art Nouveau art works (paintings, affiches illustrées, drawings, vases) created by Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). Some of his personal objects, diaries, and photographs complete the museum collection.

Breweries

U Fleku (Kremencova 11) is a characteristic brewery dating back to 1459. They produce only one type of dark beer, which, I can assure, is tasty even to those who generally may not be so fond of dark beers.

Locals recommend Pivovarski Dum that serves flavored beer ranging from coffee, banana, and sour cherry to vanilla beer, in addition to classic Czech-style lager. It is one of the newer breweries, opened in 1998. Their most original product is a beer champagne, ‘Samp.’

You can have a small snack with your beer, like some herring.

U Pinkasù is another charming brewery, just around the corner from Venceslao square (New Town).

My favorite was U Zlatého tygra (Golden tiger) where Vaclav Havel took Bill Clinton to see local people chatting away while enjoying their favorite pastime – drinking beer. This is a rather noisy and smoky, but certainly a very characteristic, Czech brewery.

The Strahov monastery, close to the castle, also has a brewery that serves delicious food in addition to their beers.

Make sure you visit the Convent (Cloister, Romanesque Halls, Chapter Hall, Winter Refectory); especially the library is gorgeous.

The breweries are excellent places to eat typical local dishes, which are ‘light’ and portions are ‘small’ – like half a duck with potato dumplings or a huge pork knuckle with bred dumplings.

The food we ate in Prague was simple but tasty. The red cabbage was so so delicious. But after drinking all that beer and eating all the meat, I felt tight under my skin; like a pork knuckle with a full-moon face.

But a very happy pork knuckle.

When visiting Prague in the winter, make sure you taste the mulled wine and cinnamon rolls that are baked in kiosks and eaten warm and fresh.

A nice traditional tavern that used be a brewery in 1520, is U Glaubicù in Malostranske Nam. It has a 700-year old cellar, a street café, a tavern and salon. They serve traditional Czech dishes and the famous Czech Pilsner Urquell beer.

One of the many gorgeous façades in Prague.

A great local hang out is Dobra Trafika (Ujezd 37/400). When you first enter it, you only see a tobacco store but behind it, in the back, is a coffee shop that serves local cakes, mulled wine, beer, and a variety of coffees and teas.

This charming city is full of fascinating features, tasty food, and friendly people.

Another amazing architectural feature, in the Jewish district of the city.

It is also a haven for those who enjoy jazz; it has everything from smoky jazz clubs to Bohemian jazz caverns.

For shoppers it offers famous Bohemian crystal, glass and ceramics, sausages and salami.

One of the caffès in the Old Town.

Unfortunately my gorgeous ceramic plate is still in the shop instead of decorating my wall, because our last day in Prague was Saturday, 24 December, a holiday in Prague, which meant that many stores were closed even in the morning.

I just need to go back for it. Another great reason to visit Prague again in the future.

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