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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Stare Mesto (Old Town) 21

Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter) 16

Nove Mesto (New Town) and Vyšehrad 14

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Nove Mesto (New Town) 12

Vyšehrad 2

Pražský Hrad (Prague Castle) 11

Josefov (Jewish Quarter) 9

Letna, Holešovice, and Troja 8

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Holešovice 3

Letna 2

Troja 3

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

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Garden/ Arboretum 4

Information Center 1

Library/ Archive 2

Museum/ Gallery 17

Neighborhood/ Street 6

Park/ Playground 4

Plaza/ Square/ Piazza 9

Public Art (Mural/ Sculpture/ Statue) 2

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 17

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Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 2

Zoo/ Aquarium 1

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Prague Sights

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Druhé nádvoří

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

Except for the view of the spires of St. Vitus's Cathedral, the exterior courtyard offers little for the eye to feast on. Empress Maria...

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...

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...

Malé náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

Note the iron fountain dating to around 1560 in the center of the square. The colorfully painted house at No. 3 was originally a hardware...

První nádvoří

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

The main entrance to Prague Castle from Hradčanské náměstí is certain to impress any first-time visitor. Going through the wrought-iron...

Staroměstské náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

The hype about Old Town Square is completely justified. Picture a perimeter of colorful baroque houses contrasting with the sweeping...

Třetí nádvoří

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

The contrast between the cool, dark interior of St. Vitus's Cathedral and the brightly colored Pacassi façades of the Third Courtyard...

Velkopřevorské náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

This square is south and slightly west of the Charles Bridge, next to the Čertovka stream. The Grand Prior's Palace fronting the square...

Václavské náměstí

  • Plaza/Square/Piazza

This "square"—more of a rectangle, actually—was first laid out by Charles IV in 1348, and began its existence as a horse market at...

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