Visiting Prague in 3 Days – Day 2 & Day 3

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2nd Day

Jewish Quarter and Old Town

As I previously said, we stayed in the area of the Jewish Quarter, so on our second day we chose to visit this region and also the area of the Old Town.

Praga - 153Old-New Synagogue

As to the Jewish Quarter, there’s not a known exact date for the arrival of Jews to Prague, but sources seem to point to the XIII century. In the following centuries, they were forced to live in a community apart, place where nowadays is located the Jewish Quarter, an area where they worked and studied.

The space was so limited that they would bury the death in several layers, graves we can observe today in the imposing Jewish Cemetery. With the rise to power of Emperor Josef I, these restrictions were abolished and many Jews left the neighborhood, it becoming a place occupied by the poorest people in the city.

The Quarter is constituted by the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Old-New Synagogue, Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia, the Jewish Town Hall, the High Synagogue, Maisel Synagogue, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall, the Klausen Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue.

The ticket to see almost all these buildings costs 480 CZK –(nearly 18€).

Praga - 154Old Jewish Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery is, probably, the most impressive place in the entire quarter; we were able to feel the “weight” of this place, so sad and so noble at the same time. It is estimated the existence of 200 000 overlapping graves in this cemetery, being the oldest from the XIV century, and the most recent from the XVIII century. Here we find the tombs of some of the most important Jews of Prague, like Mordechai Meisel (president of the quarter during the reign of Rudolf II), Rabbi Judah Loew (the creator of Golem, the clay being he created to protect the neighborhood and whose remains are supposedly in the attic of the Old New Synagogue!) and David Gans (Loew’s disciple and important astronomer in the XVIII century), among others.

The Old New Synagogue is the oldest in Europe and watched some of the most troubled moments of the Jews’ history. Its name is due to the fact that a new synagogue was built there and took its name, and then later it was destroyed.

All the buildings of this quarter are very beautiful, some of Baroque style, like it’s the case of the Jewish Town Hall, which clockwise turns in the opposite direction, once the Hebrew letters in it the read from the right to the left, or the Klaisen Synagogue, next to the cemetery, which was built in the place of a school and praying room and nowadays exhibits Jewish art; some of Gothic Style like the Convent of St Agnes that belongs to the National Gallery and keeps some of the best Czech Medieval Art, also in this style we have the Pinkas Synagogue, a monument to the 80 000 Czech victims of the Holocaust whose names are written on the wall, as well as a disposal of letters and drawings of some children; some of Neo-Gothic style like the Maisel Synagogue, the one we see today is not the original one, that one was destroyed by a great fire in 1689, the original was ordered by Rudolf II to thank Mordechai Maisel all the financial help during the Bohemian war against the Turkish, by the time of its construction it was the biggest in town. On the inside we find Jewish silver and important pieces, stole by the Nazi during World War II.

Moreover, it is sad to think that they planned to later build a museum with these pieces, dedicated to the Jews as an “extinct race”!

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The Jewish Quarter has also the High Synagogue, an elegant Renaissance building, built along with the Town Hall, and the Spanish Synagogue from the XIX century, with an opulent Moorish interior, in this place was located the first Jewish culture house in the city.

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Leaving behind the beautiful Jewish Quarter and its troubled history, we went to the Old Town, that area of Prague that makes us think we entered into a vampire movie!

The heart of Prague is full of history and majestic buildings, from the Romanic to the Gothic and even the Brutalist.

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One of the first places we went through before arriving at the mythical square of the Old Town is the Charles Bridge, but I already told you about it on the first day, so let’s go straight to the Square.

Praga - 176m They say it gives good luck to touch the Lorena Cross at Charles Bridge

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In the XI century this square was a market, but since 1338 a municipal counsel was formed and the Old Town Hall was built, giving importance to the square.

Nowadays it is an extremely joyful place, full of dazzled people with the buildings and the surrounding environment.

Praga - 5Church of Our Lady before Týn

Here you can visit the monumental Church of Our Lady before Týn, a beautiful Gothic building, which interior is unflattering of the exterior; it has two impressive dark towers that give an ambiance of a horror movie to the square.

Right in the center of the square there’s an imposing statue, the Hus Memorial, the Catholic reformist condemned to the fire I told you about when I wrote about the history of the city.

Praga - 4Hus Memorial

Another stunning building, for its beauty and dimension, is the Old Town Hall that exhibits the magical Astronomical Clock, which not only tells time, but also the movement of the planets around the Earth and, the Sun and the Moon by the Zodiac Signs. It is a marvelous work of art, however, as to the change of the hour and the possibility of seeing the clock “giving the hours”, unless you’re passing by at the moment, it’s not worth the wait, just half a dozen of figures you can barely see coming out of a tiny window to the sound of a joyful music!

Praga - 158mAstronomical Clock

On the parapet over the Hall’s rooftop you can view the entire city through the Panoramic Gallery, which access is made in the awarded Elevator (best design in 1999).

Praga - 152Another important detail in the square is the house where the famous writer Franz Kafka lived as a child; the walls of the house are covered with prints of alchemical symbols, dating from 1611.

Praga - 161 The old house of Franz Kafka

Another building worth a visit is the St. Nicholas Church, as you must remember, I talked about it before, in Lesser Town, and yes, Prague has two Baroque St. Nicholas Churches, being this one the oldest. Whether in this one or the other are realized many classical music concerts, which is something I haven’t talked about yet, but please don’t miss one of these concerts, we didn’t have the chance (we saw one later in the Budapest!), but I’m sure you shouldn’t miss the chance.

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Still in Old Town, don’t miss the imposing Art Noveau building, Municipal House, the main monument in the Republic Square. And if you miss a bit of ancient history you have the Gothic Powder Tower right next to it, with one of the best views in the city. The Municipal House has a quite important past; it’s the place where the Bohemian Independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire was declared, and later the formation of the first Czechoslovakian Republic.

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We decided to stop for a bit and relax, we could’ve chose the coffee house at the Municipal House, given our location and having in account it’s one of the most elegant in the city, but we had already made another choice the day before and booked – yes, you need to book it – a visit to the most famous bar in Prague, the Hemingway Bar, where we drank some of the best cocktails of our lives, it’s no surprise this is the favorite bar of some of the best barmen in the world! With an intimate and elegant environment that easily takes us to a distinct world where we can live together with spies and writers.

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 Praga - 188hemThe unforgettable Hemingway Bar

And so we finished another day, super tired, but very happy, we came back to the hotel (not before passing, another time, by the Charles Bridge) and rested a bit before going to a memorable dinner at Bellevue.

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Praga - 151National Museum

3rd Day

New Town
The third and last day was a bit calmer, but equally pleasant, and today we decided to walk through the animated New Town.

It was founded in 1348 and little changed since then. Born outside the old walls of the city, the urban development scheme ordered by Charles IV imposed straight avenues in the different clusters of this region.

Praga - 145A lovely Café at the Wenceslaus Square

This was a well-planned network of streets and markets, opposing to its “antagonist” Old Town.

In this area, quite different from the rest, there’s the Wenceslaus Square, a former horse market that expresses well the history of Prague in the XX century, with its buildings of beautiful art noveau facades. This square was stage for marches, protests and celebrations that molded the city in the past 100 years.

Praga - 146Grand Hotel Evropa

One of the most famous buildings of this plaza is the Grand Hotel Evropa, which still has its beautiful original facade.

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Along the square, almost in a style of an avenue, we can find several important spots, like the imposing St. Wenceslaus Statue from 1912, or the Communist Memorial, an homage to the victims of communism.

There are also two buildings to pay attention to, the Palác Lucerna that houses an art gallery, coffee shops, cinema, stores and a ball room, and the Palác Koruna, of a “modern geometrical” style, once a place of Turkish baths, it’s nowadays a shopping with several luxury stores.

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In one of the ends of the square, there’s the building that catches all the attention, the illustrious National Museum. Some of its collections are spread around the country, however, the history and art history collections are the most significant and they’re located in this Renaissance building. We couldn’t visit, unfortunately, because it was closed for restoration.

Very close to the square, at Národní St., take a bit to relax in one of the most famous cafés in Prague, both the Café Slavia, one of the most beautiful in the city, or at Café Louvre, once frequented by Franz Kafka.

 Praga - 140After this well-deserved rest, it’s time to see the place of the first Defenestration of Prague, the New Town Hall. In 1419, an anticlerical crowd threw the catholic mayor and his advisors of the window, therefore marking the date of Prague’s first defenestration.

Praga - 137National Theater

Continuing to wander in New Town, we find the National Theater, a superb Renaissance building, we didn’t go inside or saw an opera, but if you go with a bit more time, don’t miss that chance.

Praga - 139Dancing House

Around half a kilometer ahead the National Theater, we can see one of the weirdest, or better put, different, buildings in the city, the Dancing House! Built in the 90’s, it received its name due to the two towers that resemble two dancers. Nowadays it is filled with offices, except for the seventh floor where a restaurant is located, offering a great view over the city.

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Already tired, we give this day by finished, ending with a marvelous dinner at Čestr (see) and after enjoying our last night in our wonderful Prague “home”, because tomorrow we head to our next destination, Vienna!

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Goodbye magical, passionate city, fairy tale place, bohemian town… Goodbye Prague!

Where to stay
InterContinental Praga

Versão Portuguesa 

Photos: Flavors & Senses with Sony A7S

– The pictures don’t always represent our first passage in some of the places or even the same day of the travel.

This article is the 2nd of 2 articles for our Prague Guide (see first day).

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