Prague is divided in a couple of ways- there are 7 districts (like New Town, Old Town) and 20 divisions (Prague 1, Prague 2, Prague 3.) Since a district can encompass several divisions (I live in Vinohrady in Prague 2, but just down the street, still Vinohrady, are Prague 4 and 10) I decided to do this introduction based on district.
This is the castle district! Pražský hrad means Prague Castle and that's the main sight here. The castle grounds are amazing and include several churches and residences.
Malá Strana (Lesser Town:)
This is where the Charles Bridge (Karlův most) the Lennon Wall, and Anglo-American University are. Oh, also the CEA office, and Petrin Hill, where there are great views of Prague from a model of the Eiffel Tower. Fun fact, the Petrin tower is technically higher above sea level than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, because even though the tower itself is smaller, it's built on a hill.
Staré Město (Old Town:)
This whole area is a World Heritage Site, and for good reason! This is where the Astronomical Clock is, plus Old Town Square, several fabulous churches, and a statue of Jan Hus. It's a wonderful place to walk around, but it's so popular with tourists that you should also beware of pickpockets. (Prague is a pretty safe city, but when crimes do happen, they're pickpockets or burglars, not muggings or armed robbery.)
The Jewish District of Prague was not damaged as badly as others around Europe, because Hitler planned on using it as a museum for the 'extinct' Jewish religion and culture. Therefore it holds interesting Jewish relics from around Europe, as well as an ancient cemetery and synagogues. One interesting legend about Josefov involves Rabbi Loeb's golem, a creature made of animated clay that went crazy and started attacking people. According to the story Rabbi Loeb had to deactivate the golem and hide it in the rafters of the Old New Synagogue in case it would be needed again. Unfortunately that attic isn't open for visitors.
Nové město (New Town):
In this district, there is Wenceslas Square, which is full of stores and restaurants, and the Dancing House, a Frank Gehry creation that looks sort of like two people dancing.
Vinohrady means vineyard but I have yet to see many grapes. It's mostly a residential area popular with the expat community and the student crowd. A few of the CEA apartments are in this area, mine included. There's a great little cafe, Zanzibar, where we ate pretty often, but not many tourist sites.
Traditionally a more working-class, gritty area, Zizkov contains one big tourist attraction: the TV Tower. After it was built, the story goes that locals didn't like having it around because they were worried that the radio waves might be harmful to children, so artist David Cerny was commissioned to decorate the tower. Naturally he added giant statues of babies crawling up the tower.... because that makes sense. It also has a good view of the rest of Praha.
Technically this is a 'suburb' but most consider it a district of Prague. This is where the world-famous Cross Club and several other popular bars and clubs are located. For a more family-friendly visit there is also the Zoo.
Prague is a beautiful city with great history and something for everyone. I highly recommend it, whether you're here to study for a semester, or just for a weekend trip. For these last four months, this apartment in Vinohrady has been 'home.' Even though I'm off to other adventures, I'll miss this city of churches, museums, castles, bridges, graffiti, and culture.
Dorothy McQuaid was the CEA MOJO for Prague this Fall. Her next adventure will be graduating from Belmont University in Nashville, TN this spring.
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