Czech Republic is one of those countries that, after visiting it, we find it strange that it is not at the top of the list of every traveler who visits Europe for the first time. When deciding the things to do in Czech Republic, we will find many options and opportunities: from historical sites to natural wonders.
In this article we will concentrate on 4 cities that are architectural gems of the country and that will make us fall in love from the moment we step on their cobbled streets: the charming magic of Prague, the intricate alleyways of Cesky Krumlov, the home of one of the most important film festivals in the world, Karlovy Vary, and the little known bu equally interesting Telc.
Are you ready? These are the best things to do in Czech Republic. Let’s go!
THINGS TO DO IN CZECH REPUBLIC: PRAGUE, THE MUST-VISIT PLACE
It is not by chance that the capital of the Czech Republic is among the 20 most visited cities in the world. When deciding the things to do in Czech Republic and the places to visit, the city of Prague can´t be missed.
Since 1992, walking through the historic center of Prague is walking through a World Heritage Site. Its architecture takes us on a journey through centuries and influences: from the Gothic of the fourteenth century with the building of the Archbishopric and the Cathedral of San Vito as great standards, until the modernist period with the strange and at the same time beautiful Dancing House, passing through the baroque era and the French classicism.
Prague is a host of styles but they all come together to make a set that “looks good” and catches the eye.
There are four districts that make up its historic center: Hradčany, Malá Strana, Staré Město and Nové Město.
This is how the famous castle district, the founding pillar of the city of Prague, is known. It was there, in the ninth century when Prince Bořivoj Přemyslovec gave orders to build the Castle that is nowadays the largest castle in the world. You could say that Prague was born from it. Hradčany was the city that began to be built in the fourteenth century on the outside of the castle wall.
The castle is a huge conjunction of historical buildings such as the Cathedral of San Vito whose construction began in 1344 but its doors just opened to the public in 1929 (took a bit to build it, right?), or the Golden Alley that houses beautiful color buildings that were homes for goldsmiths (and Franz Kafka, the most famous literary author of the Czech Republic).
A little thing about the castle you might not know: Did you know that before 1989 Prague Castle had no outdoor lighting? It was in that year when the Rolling Stones gave a concert in the city of Prague and fell in love with this wonderful medieval construction. It was so much the impact that it caused to them that they decided to donate what at that moment would be equivalent to 30,000 euros for the installation of the exterior lighting system that nowadays allows us to enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city.
Located next to the castle district, this area of the city is characterized by a large number of palaces, churches, and squares. Undoubtedly its main symbol and one of the most characteristic and photographed symbols of the city is the Charles Bridge, ordered to be built in the year 1357 by Charles IV to replace the Judit Bridge destroyed by a flood.
30 statues rise along its 500 meters in length and 10 meters wide. Its cobbled floor can hardly be seen during peak hours as the photos that you can see of that beautiful bridge are taken early in the morning when the horde of tourists has not yet arrived and the bridge can be enjoyed at its best.
A little thing about the bridge you might not know: John of Nepomuk was the confessor of Sofia of Bavaria, the consort queen of Bohemia. Before the negation of breaking the secret vote of confession, he was thrown from the bridge by orders of the then king Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia. From the place where he was thrown, a statue stands that is said to fulfill the desire of whoever places his hand on it.
Around the Town Hall Square, the medieval center of the city is developed, with the oldest buildings in Prague such as the Old Town Hall and its famous Astronomical Clock of 1410, the most famous astronomical clock in the world and which is still in operation today.
From up there you get the best views of the city. The Church of Our Lady of Týn from the 14th century stands out in the Square, characterized by its twin towers of late Gothic style and more than 80 meters high. The Old-New Synagogue of 1270 is another of the high points of this neighborhood, and is, next to the Old Synagogue of Krakow, unique in its kind.
A little thing about the Astronomical Clock you might not know: It was built by the master watchmaker Hanus whos eyes were taken out so he could not repeat such a beautiful creation.
It is the new city of Prague. The Dancing House of the architect Frank Gehry is the most famous building in the neighborhood. It was designed in 1992 and completed four years later. His deconstructivist style fits perfectly with the Baroque, Gothic, and Art Nouveau buildings that surround it.
Other great attractions that can be seen in this part of the city is the famous Powder Tower, gateway to the Old City. It is a Gothic tower dating from the fifteenth century and is one of the most emblematic buildings of the city, and one of the original 13 doors of the old city.
A little thing about the Dancing House you might not know: the building was originally known as Fred and Ginger, after the famous dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers – and the feeling that evokes the construction of a couple of dancers – but his architect did not want to import the kitsch style of Hollywood into Prague, so that name was not considered.
Prague is a city that can be covered in two days but to do it justice requires more time in order to walk slowly, stop at its cafes, enjoy a show, visit its museums and palaces.
THINGS TO DO IN CZECH REPUBLIC: CESKY KRUMLOV, THE LADY IN RED
Since we saw on a TV show the city of Cesky Krumlov with its red roofs, its meandering streets, the meander of the river that surrounded it, and that castle on top, we thought that one day we would visit it, that we only had to wait for the right moment to come.
As we said in our article about the most romantic places in Europe, this wonderful city of Southern Bohemia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, did not fall into the hands of the appalling Soviet architecture, so its historical center is one of the best preserved in Europe and without a doubt one of the most beautiful.
With its Gothic and Renaissance houses, and Kaplická street as the standard of a labyrinthine city; with its cobbled streets that descend towards the Vltava river and ascend to the top of the castle that houses one of the best preserved baroque theaters; with those views that from there above this city gives to us, Cesky Krumlov is a must in the top things to do in Czech Republic.
Cesky Krumlov is only 170 kilometers away from Prague, making it an ideal getaway from the Czech capital.
THINGS TO DO IN CZECH REPUBLIC: KARLOVY VARY, MOVIE LAND
Founded in 1350 by Emperor Charles IV, this beautiful thermal city at the confluence of the Ohře (Eger) and Teplá rivers, is famous precisely for its thermal springs: more than 80 springs of water up to 72 ° C that sprout from the interior of the earth.
When the railway was inaugurated from Prague in the 19th century, the city of Karlovy Vary immediately became one of the favorite spas for the aristocratic class of the time.
What most struck us is that its inhabitants go down the street with a very special vessel that they fill with the almost boiling water that flows from these sources and take it with them while they walk. These waters have many healing properties and are a very high source of minerals.
The walk along the river that runs through the historic center is very pleasant. The colorful houses with an architecture that refers to the belle époque, the terraced bars on the river waters, the forests and mountains that surround it, the autumnal colors … all this makes this city a must on the things to do in Czech Republic.
Beyond its world fame for the thermal springs and its famous international film festival, Karlovy Vary is still quiet and without the mass of tourists from Prague. It is located less than 130 kilometers away from the capital.
Here you have some pictures so you can enjoy the beauty of the place.
THINGS TO DO IN CZECH REPUBLIC: TELC AND ITS MARVELOUS SQUARE
We had never heard of the city of Telč. It was not in our plans when we thought of the things to do in Czech Republic. But as we like to discover lesser-known corners, we head to this city in the southeast of the Moravian region.
Founded in the 14th century, you only need to reach its main square (Zacharias de Hradec) to discover why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992. There, a group of Renaissance-style residential buildings surrounds the place, with its pastel colors and their roofs in peak.
The square has its origins in the thirteenth century but the two fires suffered – one in the sixteenth century and the last in the nineteenth century – forced to carry out its reconstruction. The facades that you see today belong to that second reconstruction.
The Czech Republic is one of the most picturesque countries in Europe and offers an infinite number of possibilities. We chose these four places because we feel that they perfectly represent the architectural beauty of the country, its history, its influences.
We did not get the chance to explore its beautiful natural parks but they will serve as a perfect excuse to return to this region of the continent that catches the eye of whoever steps on its lands for the first time.
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