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

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Museum/ Gallery 18

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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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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...

Cubist houses

  • Neighborhood/Street

Bordered to the north by Nové Město and to the south by Nusle, Vyšehrad is mostly visited for its citadel high above the river on...

Karlovo náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

This square began life as a cattle market, a function chosen by Charles IV when he established the New Town in 1348. The horse market...

Klášter Emauzy

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Another of Charles IV's gifts to the city, the Benedictine monastery sits south of Karlovo náměstí. It's often called Na Slovanech,...

Leica Gallery

  • Museum/Gallery

On a gracefully curving side street, a short walk from Wenceslas Square, this café-cum-photo exhibition space (three small rooms' worth)...

Mucha Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

For decades it was almost impossible to find an Alfons Mucha original in his homeland, but in 1998 this private museum opened with nearly...

Muzeum Antonína Dvořáka

  • Museum/Gallery

The stately baroque red-and-yellow villa housing this museum displays the 19th-century Czech composer's scores, photographs, viola, piano,...

Novoměstská radnice

  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

At the northern edge of Karlovo náměstí, the New Town Hall has a late-Gothic tower similar to that of the Old Town Hall, plus three...

Národní divadlo

  • Arts/Performance Venue

Statues representing Drama and Opera rise above the riverfront side entrances to this theater, and two gigantic chariots flank figures...

Národní muzeum

  • Museum/Gallery

Housed in a grandiose neo-Renaissance structure at the top of Wenceslas Square, the National Museum was built between 1885 to 1890 as...

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