Prague Sights

Full of fairy-tale vistas, Prague is beautiful in a way that makes even the most jaded traveler stop and snap pictures. The city is physically divided in two by the Vltava River (also sometimes known by its German name, the Moldau), which runs from south to north with a single sharp turn to the east.

Originally, Prague was composed of five independent towns: Hradčany (the Castle Area),

Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Staré Město (Old Town), Nové Město (New Town), and Josefov (Jewish Quarter), and these areas still make up the heart of Prague—what you think of when picturing its famed winding cobblestone streets and squares.

Hradčany, the seat of Czech royalty for hundreds of years, centers on the Pražský hrad (Prague Castle)—itself the site of the president's office. A cluster of white buildings yoked around the pointed steeples of a chapel, Prague Castle overlooks the city from a hilltop west of the Vltava River. Steps lead down from Hradčany to the Lesser Quarter, an area dense with ornate mansions built for the 17th- and 18th-century nobility.

The looming Karlův most (Charles Bridge) connects the Lesser Quarter with the Old Town. Old Town is hemmed in by the curving Vltava and three large commercial avenues: Revoluční to the east, Na příkopě to the southeast, and Národní třída to the south. A few blocks east of the bridge is the district's focal point: Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square), a former medieval marketplace laced with pastel-color baroque houses—easily one of the most beautiful central squares in Europe. To the north of Old Town Square the diminutive Jewish Quarter fans out around a tony avenue called Pařížská.

Beyond the former walls of the Old Town, the New Town fills in the south and east. The name "new" is a misnomer—New Town was laid out in the 14th century. (It's new only when compared with the neighboring Old Town.) Today this mostly commercial district includes the city's largest squares, Karlovo náměstí (Charles Square) and Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square).

Roughly 1 km (½ mile) south of Karlovo náměstí, along the Vltava, stands what’s left of the ancient castle of Vyšehrad high above the river. On a promontory to the east of Václavské náměstí stretches Vinohrady, the home of Prague's well-to-do professional set. Bordering Vinohrady are the scruffier neighborhoods of Žižkov to the north and Nusle to the south. On the west bank of the Vltava lie many older residential neighborhoods and several parks. About 3 km (2 miles) from the center in every direction, communist-era housing projects, called paneláks, begin their unsightly sprawl.

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Staré Město (Old Town) 24

Nové Město (New Town) and Vyšehrad 15

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Nové Město (New Town) 13

Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter) 15

Pražský Hrad (Prague Castle) 12

Josefov (Jewish Quarter) 10

Letná, Holešovice, and Troja 8

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Holešovice 3

Letná 2

Troja 3

Hradčany (Castle Area) 6

Vinohrady and Žižkov 4

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Vinohrady 2

Žižkov 2

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Archaeological Site/ Ruins 1

Arts/ Performance Venue 4

Building/ Architectural Site 11

Castle/ Palace/ Chateau 1

Cemetery 2

Fountain 1

Garden/ Arboretum 4

Information Center 1

Library/ Archive 2

Museum/ Gallery 18

Neighborhood/ Street 7

Park/ Playground 4

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 10

Public Art (Mural/ Sculpture/ Statue) 2

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 19

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 2

Zoo/ Aquarium 1

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Prague Sights

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Bazilika svatého Jiří

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Inside, this church looks more or less as it did in the 12th century; it's the best-preserved Romanesque relic in the country. The effect...

Betlémská kaple

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

The original church was built at the end of the 14th century, and the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus was a regular preacher here from...

Botanická zahrada

  • Garden/Arboretum

Not far from Prague Zoo, the public garden has a path that first takes you through a semi-desert environment, then through a tunnel beneath...

Café Fresco

If you're worn out after the long uphill climb to the bluff, Café Fresco serves up Italian salads and panini, plus a revivifying set...

Café au Gourmand

Just outside of Old Town Square on Dlouhá Street, Café au Gourmand has a delightful selection of authentic French pastries, salads,...

Celetná ulice

  • Neighborhood/Street

This is the main thoroughfare, which connecs Old Town Square and Náměstí Republiky; it's packed day and (most of the) night. Many...

Chrám svatého Mikuláše

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

With its dynamic curves, this church is arguably the purest and most ambitious example of high baroque in Prague. The celebrated architect...

Chrám svatého Víta

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

With its graceful, soaring towers, this Gothic cathedral—among the most beautiful in Europe—is the spiritual heart of Prague Castle...

Clam-Gallas palác

  • Museum/Gallery

The work of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the famed Viennese baroque virtuoso of the day, is showcased in this earth-tone palace.

Clementinum

  • Library/Archive

The origins of this massive complex—now part of the university—date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, but it's best known as the...

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