Prague is the perfect weekend destination. The capital city of Czech Republic is breathing history, whether we’re speaking of the Jewish district, called Jozefov, or the streets that evidently went through the long and exhausting period of the Communist regime. The city is diverse, and that’s why it has that one-off charm. We started our sightseeing at the Strahov Monastery to see the gorgeous Strahov Library with its impressive book collection and taxidermy display (but first, took a moment to appreciate the view at the nearby vineyards and the entire city). If you’re into the cabinet des curiosités vibes, this place is a must-visit.
After a nearly one-hour-long walk down the cobblestone streets (and one trdelnik later), we reached the Jewish district that is one of Prague’s most beautiful and mystic places. First, the Old-New Synagogue, which is one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Europe and has been the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community for more than 700 year. Then, the vast Old Jewish Cementary that leaves you feel astounded. During the more than three centuries in which it was in active use, the cemetery continually struggled with the lack of space. The Jewish community was allowed to purchase grounds to expand the cemetery rarely and many times it had to gain space in other ways; if necessary, a new layer of soil was heaped up on the available area. For this reason, there are places where as many as twelve layers now exist. Thanks to this solution the older graves themselves remained intact. However, as new levels were added it was necessary either to lay over the gravestones associated with the older (and lower) graves to protect them, or else to elevate the stones to the new, higher surface. This explains the dense forest of gravestones that one sees today; many of them commemorate an individual who is buried several layers further down. The autumn trees that surround the place add up to the aura of this landmark. Our last stop in the Jewish district (note that there are other places worth visiting, but we were pressed for time) was the Spanish Synagogue. The place is no longer is use and serves as a tourist attraction / concert venue. The arabesque style of this synagogue, with some elements of moresque, will make you want to stay for hours to observe all those stunning details…
Our last destination in Prague was the Hradčany neighborhood. Hradčany is dominated by the vast Prague Castle complex (which we didn’t manage to see and decided to leave it as a reason to come back to Prague soon). Religious sites include the mind-blowing St. Vitus Cathedral, known for its over-the-top Gothic-ness and stained-glass windows by the one and only Alfons Mucha, and St. George’s Basilica, with a red facade and Romanesque interior. The tiny, colorful houses on Golden Lane are home to historical exhibits and souvenir shops, but it’s so commercialised that it’s simply speaking a sad thing to see.
That would be it from the ‘very important’ places to see in Prague. My favourite addresses from the city are coming up soon!
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.