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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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...

Franz Kafka Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

The great early-20th-century Jewish author Kafka wasn't Czech and he wrote in German, but he lived in Prague nearly his entire short,...

Kampa

  • Neighborhood/Street

Prague's largest "island" is cut off from the "mainland" by the narrow Čertovka streamlet. The name Čertovka, or Devil's Stream, reputedly...

Karlův most

  • Building/Architectural Site

This is Prague's signature monument, and worth the denomination. The view from the foot of the bridge on the Old Town side, encompassing...

Kostel Panny Marie vítězné

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

This aging, well-appointed church on the Lesser Quarter's main street is the unlikely home of Prague's most famous religious artifact,...

Malostranské náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

Another one of the many classic examples of Prague's charm, this square is flanked on the east and south sides by arcaded houses dating...

Museum Kampa

  • Museum/Gallery

The spotlighted jewel on Kampa Island is a remodeled flour mill that displays a private collection of paintings by Czech artist František...

Nerudova ulice

  • Neighborhood/Street

This steep street used to be the last leg of the "Royal Way," the king's procession before his coronation. As king, he made the ascent...

Petřínské sady

  • Park/Playground

For a superb view of the city—from a slightly more solitary perch—the park on top of Petřín Hill includes a charming playground...

Schönbornský palác

  • Building/Architectural Site

Franz Kafka had an apartment in this massive baroque building at the top of Tržiště ulice in mid-1917, after moving from Zlatá ulička,...

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