Prague is a beautiful city with millions of tourists heading to Prague Castle, Charles bridge and other sightseeing highlights every year. However, not everything in Prague is a must see. There is couple of things that you may easily skip without regretting it such as Golden Lane at the Prague Castle, Klementinum Library – visit the Strahov Monastery Baroque library instead and the overpriced and poor serviced Lokal restaurant at Dlouha street.
And here is why. Continue reading “3 things to avoid in Prague”→
Visiting the Strahov Monastery and then walking down the Petrin Hill on a sunny Sunday (or any other day of the week) is kind of an experience from a different world, even for me as the “Praguer”. Surprisingly the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary seems quite small compared to the size of the monastery. You can enter the church only during the holly mass (daily at 6pm and Sunday at 10 am and 6pm). But most of you will probably head to the Strahov Library and Strahov Gallery. There are two separate box offices for each of them. The Strahov Library is, together with the Klementinum baroque library one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. If you would like to see the Theological and Philosophical halls at Strahov, you will have to book your time slot well in advance, otherwise you will see just the Cabinet of Curiosities and connecting passages, however even that is impressive.
The art and design lovers should stop by in Platnerska street in Prague. There are three good reasons for that. The Artel Concept Store at Platnerska 7, Prague Cabinet at Platnerska 13 and a Italian coffee and food for Italian bistro La Bottega di Finestra at Platnerska 11 (BTW la Bottega serves superb brakfasts). You will be just few steps from the Old Town Square, so the place is worth a visit.
In case you plan to visit Prague, I am sure you are getting all kinds of guide books, maps and tips what to do and what to skip. I suggest you get A Traveller’s Companion to Prague, a book written by a Prague born Jan Kaplan, a Czech filmmaker and writer living in London since 1968. You will read about the turbulent history of the golden city in the heart of Europe from the very beginning when the Princess Libuse predicted the future of the Czech nation through the dark dates of Nazis in Czech and Moravian Protectorate up to the date when a former dissident Vaclav Havel became the first President of Czechoslovakia (today Czech Republic).
I was walking through Wenceslas Square in Prague today, (I will admit it is not my favorite place) and noticed this quiet little courtyard. I couldn’t believe it. Is it really a tea room?! Really at Wenceslas Square? At this busy place, full of tourists, noise, shops and some bizarre offers made by even more bizarre people?
So I walked in the courtyard and I found myself in a bamboo garden (OK, so only a little bamboo garden) with people sitting outside at little tables, sipping tea.
If you like to take a rest while avoiding tourist traps of Prague, check this Dobra Cajovna (A Good Tea Room) at Wenceslas Square No. 14, Prague 1 just few steps from Bata shoe store.
I couldn’t resist and took more pictures and even made a video of Kutna Hora on a Saturday two weeks ago. It was an evening when my husband Vratislav organized open-air Nabucco at Kutna Hora Art gallery courtyard. A great excuse to come to Kutna Hora in the morning and take more pictures of all hidden corners and little cafes in tiny lanes. I stopped by at the Glass Dependence of Borek Sipek. If you are into design glass, you cannot miss this shop. Look at some of Sipek’s glass at thise-shop. The store manager is a very nice man, we chatted for a while and I walked around the store and admired shapes and colors of beautiful vases and bowls and…. I discovered you can even have a cup of coffee in the back of the store.
Of course, I stopped by at the Felix Jenewein bookstore, hard to walk by without checking in. A short break in Blues Cafe with a saint statue above my head overlooking the tiny square and back to the St. Barbora Cathedral. Walking towards the cathedral looking at Saint John, Saint. Barbora, Saint Florian, Ignac of Loyola, ….. Yes, the statues may not be of the same art quality as the ones at the Prague Charles Bridge but anyway, imagine a man from Kutna Hora who created all of them over thirteen years, by himself. Impressive.
After sitting quietly inside St. Barbora cathedral admiring the private chapels and the ceiling (don’t forget to look up, pure beauty), I am ready to have a bite to eat. U Hrncire restaurant has great food and terrace. Although, I am almost ready to offer help to the waiter who clearly struggles with orders overload. I managed to get my soup and salad and continue to St. Jacob church and the breath-taking view next to the church. The Rudhardska street is a romantic medieval street with slightly morbid story about a young girl immured in one of the cellars here. A bit radical for my taste.
Walking down the Rudhardska street, I reach the Italian courtyard. I am sitting here, looking around and think about the time when this place used to be the “National Bank of the Czech Kingdom.” Kutna Hora, once city of wealth, silver and coin production. Today, a beautiful one day escape from Prague. It is time to head back to the Art Gallery to enjoy “Va pensiero” and Nabucco.
Finally, I will ask you to excuse my English and my video making skills but I love it, I can’t help myself. And here is my previous post on Kutna Hora.
You may not notice this place when exploring Kampa island and its romantic corners. When coming from Charles Bridge, head accross the park and keep on the left side. You will soon see the giant babies, an art work by famous and according to some controverrsial artist, David Cerny. You are almost there – the Kampa Museum, a former mill owned by Sova family in 15th century – thus the original name, Sova Mill or Sovovy mlyny in Czech.
The building was rescued by a Czech-American art collector, Mrs. Meda Mladek who supported Czech artists during the comunism era together with her husband, Jan V. Mladek, one of the top officers of the International Monetary Fund after WWII. Meda Mladek returned to then Czechoslovakia after 1989 and turned the mill building into a muzeum and art gallery featuring an exquisite art collection of Frantisek Kupka, a co-founder of abstract art and cubism. The gallery belongs to leading Central European art centers regularly hosting avant-gard exhibitions attracting visitors and modern art enthusiasts from all over the world.
The place is magic, romantic, offering beautiful sights of Prague. Enjoy coffee or glass of wine in the Museum cafe, definitely visit the Museum shop and do not forget to stop by at the Praying Monk statue – Mr. Harmony.
Get the feel with a Prague Travel Concierge Kampa Video.
Look for the small park in front of Old-New Synagogue, you will find a beautiful sculpture of Moises, work of a Czech symbolist and Art Nouveau sculptor, Frantisek Bilek. The bronze sculpture shows Moises on his knees, writing the name of “Adam”. The sculpture was placed in the park near the Synagogue in 1937 (although Bilek completed it in 1905). The German Nazzis removed the sculpture and melted it 1940. Fortunately, the widow of Frantisek Bilek kept the plaster model so the bronz cast of Moses was re-done and it was placed in the park again after World War II in 1946.
For a single evening, Stirin Castle Courtyard in the Czech Republic hosted Verdi’s Nabucco and soloists of the National Theater Opera Prague and Opera House in Liberec. Verdi’s third opera Nabucco owes its reputation to the famous chorus “Va pensiero”, sung in the third act by the Hebrew people, who long for their homeland after being exiled by the Babylonian king Nabucco. Watch “Va pensiero” from the 2014 Nabucco production at Jindrichuv Hradec Castle.
Kutna Hora is a great one day trip from Prague. You can get there by public bus or Prague Travel Concierge will get you to Kutna Hora by car or minivan. The centre of this medieval gem is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It is a picturesque walking city and a great place for you to wonder around and discover the beauty of this once important city of the Czech Kingdom. Kutna Hora became rich thanks to silver mining and silver coins manufacturing. No wonder – cash is king and so Kutna Hora became rich with all its noble buildings and the St. Barbara Cathedral.
You need to see the Cathedral, Italian Courtyard and the old houses in the city centre and of course an old well on one of the squares. But if you like art, go to the Art Gallery of the Central Bohemia – it is called GASK and you may notice direction signs throughout the city. If you would like to get a private tour in GASK, let us know. The gallery is in an old Jesuit College, it has been beautifully reconstructed recently. If you like design glass, do not forget to stick your head to a small shop of a Czech glass designer, Borek Sipek – a shop called Borek Sipek Glass Dependence – you will find it at Komenskeho namesti 39 (Komensky square) in Kutna Hora. By the way, Borek Sipek was a favorite designer of Vaclav Havel during his Presidency at the Prague Castle. Once you get hungry, I recommend you skip the main street tourist eateries and check the small bistros or cukrárna (sweet shop) in the narrow alleys. There is one exception – the food at the U varhanare restaurant may not be the best in the world but their view of St. Barbara, baroque statues and the valley below Kutna Hora is priceless (on your right hand, walking back from St. Barbara Cathedral to the centre). Oh, I almost forgot – do you enjoy old books? I love them! Then check an old second hand bookstore – Felix Jenewein at Barborska street in Kutna Hora. Books, old paintings and more. I always find something small or book that I have been looking for. You may be lucky and find some books in English and of course in German. I do not mention the bone church or the ossuary as it is called. It is quite unique but not for everybody, so think twice before you visit.
If you have any questions on Kutna Hora or something else, email us.