No visit to Prague would be complete without a visit to Prague Castle, located in Lesser Quarter. The castle isn't just one enormous building, as I had expected, but is rather an enormous walled complex of palaces and churches. You could spend days just trying to see everything in the castle, but I recommend you see St. Vitus' Cathedral and Schwarzenberg Palace. St. Vitus is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture, while Schwarzenberg Palace has an interesting collection of Czech paintings, sculptures, and armor.
Charles Bridge at Dawn
Charles Bridge was constructed in the 14th century under King Charles IV, and is one of the oldest bridges in Europe. This beautiful stone structure, which had multiple statues added to it in the 18th century, connects Old Town and Lesser Quarter. Given its location and the fact that it's only open to pedestrians, it should come as no surprise to hear that the bridge is almost always teeming with street vendors, musicians, and hordes of tourists.
If you go to the bridge right around sunrise, though, it's a completely different story. I went there at dawn and was, for once, almost completely alone on the bridge. I stood alone in the dead center of the bridge and, hearing only the calls of birds and the rush of the river below, soak in the beauty of Prague in the crisp morning light.
Speaking of Charles Bridge, if you go down a flight of stone steps near one end of the bridge, you'll find yourself on the island of Kampa. Home to both the Franz Kafka Museum and the Museum Kampa, this area is charming, interesting, and usually far quieter than the bridge above it. Kampa also has a park right along the edge of the river, which makes for a peaceful place to sit and admire Prague. Touchingly, near the bridge there's a memorial to the American firefighters who lost their lives in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Perhaps I'm a bit biased because I live there, but the nieghborhood of Žižkov is definitely worth a visit. The area is more industrial and working-class than the rest of Prague, and has its own personality; it's often jokingly referred to as the Independent Republic of Žižkov. It's an inexpensive area of the city, and is said to have the highest number of pubs per capita of any city district in Europe, guaranteeing that you'll have an entertaining time.
Anna Walsh, Carnegie Mellon University '13
CEA MOJO for Prague
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