Discover Czech Republic, Prague Castle, Prague hidden gems

3+1 things to avoid in Prague

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 Lokal restaurant at Dlouha street. 
And here is why… Continue reading “3+1 things to avoid in Prague”

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A Trip to Cesky Krumlov

Karel Čapek ilustration Pictures form HomeA UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ceský Krumlov is famous for its Old Town, with 300 protected medieval buildings, and its castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic.

Going to Cesky Krumlov is a busy one day trip or a relaxed two day trip. You can go by bus (it takes 3 hours) or by train (you need to change the train in České Budějovice) or we will arrange a car and a driver for you. Visiting Cesky Krumlov is worth a trip.

To imagine what a magic place Cesky Krumlov is, read an excerpt from a story written by one of the greatest Czech writers of the early 20th century, Karel Čapek in his Pictures from Home.

“…I do not know how many times the Vltava meanders before you get through the town – doing so as directly as possible you will cross it about five times and each time you are surprised that it is so golden-brown and in a hurry. Neither do I know how many inhabitants Krumlov has, but there are twenty-four pubs, three churches, one castle, still two large town gates and a large number of monuments; in fact the whole town is one big historic monument which reminds one of Sienna or Stirling or other famous places. Well, there are old gables, bays, dormers, arcades, arches, galleries, battlements, sgrafitto, frescoes, stairs up and down, balustrades, fountains, columns, corner stones, nooks, frame-works, maßhaus, underpasses, historic pavement, zigzagging lanes, Bethlehems, high roofs, a Gothic church, Minorites and all over the place the red roses of the Rosenbergs, everywhere you stir you can see only picturesqueness and antiquity and historical fame, while in the old suburbs there are only low houses whose roofs you can touch with your hand, geraniums in the windows and the sign over the door, here old crafts are still alive as in the fifteenth century.

Everything is dominated (and really so after the Dukes of Eggenberg) by the castle over there and particularly the tower, one of the most towery towers which I have ever seen, I would say that towers are a Czech specialty because nowhere else can you find such strange cupolas, paunchy onion-domes, poppy-head cupolas, lanterns, stuck little turrets and galleries and spires as in this country; each old Bohemian town has its own particular tower by which you can tell that this is Hradec and this is Brno and this is Budějovice and this is Český Krumlov.

As concerns the castle, it is all decorated and covered with frescos inside as well as outside but the best of all is the little Baroque theater in which the old decorations still hang; an eighteenth century Italian opera could haunt this place at this moment but it does not because it is not allowed to perform here because of safety measures. Further there is the summer-house Bellarie with such funny stairs on the facade and lots of other Baroque things; for three crowns this is enough and to spare…”

Karel Čapek – Pictures from Home

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Prague birds-eye view


You probably heard of the Petrin lookout tower. It reminds the Eiffel tower in Paris because the Czech tourist club members liked the Eiffel tower so much that they decided to have one – a smaller one in Prague. That was in 1891 when they returned from the World Exhibition in Paris.

The Prague tower was built just in four months, it is 63.5 meters high with 299 stairs. There is an elevator for those who may wish to skip the exercise. The Petrin lookout tower is open daily from 10am to 6 pm (November to February) and to 10pm (from April to September).

Once you will be at Petřín hill (where you can get by funicular) from Ujezd station of tram No. 22) you will be in a beautiful park, with a mirror maze. There is also a little booth with beer and famous Czech bramborak (potato and garlic pancakes). And the best, you will be able to cut through the Petřín park to the Prague Castle where you end up at the amazing view of Prague just underneath the Strahov Monastery.

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Strahov Library & Prague Views

Strahov Library
Strahov Library

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 next stop is Strahov Gallery. It is housed in the monastery itself. There are beautiful Baroque sculptures and Gothic and baroque paintings on the first floor.  Continue reading “Strahov Library & Prague Views”

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A Traveller’s Companion to Prague

A traveller companion

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).

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Kutna Hora Encore

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 this e-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.

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This was Verdi’s Nabucco at Stirin Castle 2015

PLAKAT-STIRIN-A2-TISKFor 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.


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Glass, books and beauty of Kutna Hora

Take a walk with us in Kutna Hora

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.

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Cubist Passage Adria in Prague

adria venkuThe rondo-cubist palace Adria with art deco passage is a must-see-place if you are an architectural enthusiast or maybe even if you are not. It was built for Italian insurance company, Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta during 1923–1924 at the corner of Národní Avenue and Jungmannova Street. Riunione wanted to create a building evoking North-Italian renaissance palaces.  The internal passage is decorated with number of statues by Czech artists, including Jan Štursa and Bohumil Kafka. Look for 24-hour clock surrounded by bronze statues representing the signs of the zodiac, in the open foyer. Cafe Adria on the first floor is worth a visit in summer when you can enjoy the view on the bustling crossroad of 28. října street (28 November), Národní Avenue and Jungmannovo square from the summer terrace . The menu of the Cafe deserves some improvements. The building was home of Film Club, a popular meeting place of Czech movie stars during First Republic (1918 – 1938).   In 1989 Adria was home of Obcanske forum (Civic forum) and Vaclav Havel in the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in November 1989. By the way, if you need a shoe repair, there is a shop nestled next to the entrance to Cafe Adria – quite a surprising at this location.


červená lhota
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Červená Lhota – Fairy Tale Castle

červená lhotaThe Červená lhota Castle was a place of amusement, celebrations and leisure. ‘Červená’ is Czech for ‘Red’, and that is what it is. This beautiful, fairy tale chateau with a red brick roof and red façade, set on a rocky island in the middle of a lake, is best seen by boating around the lake. It has been used by many film makers and for many more weddings. You could get married there – why not? We did.

The Červená lhota castle dating back to the 15th century, was sold to Vilem Rut of Dirna in 1597, and it was he that rendered it with red plaster. The last of the Ruts, Bohuslav, had to leave the Bohemian lands after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620.

After WWII, in 1945, the castle was confiscated (as German property) by the Czech Government. However, the Soviet army managed to “borrow” some furniture on its way home, so opening the castle for public viewing was a challenge. In addition, after the communists took over in 1948, the castle almost became a “weekend lodge” for the Czech minister of Agriculture. However, all these troubles ended when the castle was opened to the public in 1949 and the furniture and historical equipment was gradually recovered and brought back to Cervena lhota. Since 2003, the interiors of the castle look almost the same as when it was home to the last private owner in the beginning of 20th century.

You may want to stop by the village Dirna about 5 km from Cervena lhota where there is a small castle once more owned by the family of Duke Wratislav who, after confiscation in 1948, was allowed’ to stay on in the castle as administrator. It is now also home to a B&B operated by the Wratislav family.

Getting to Cervena lhota Castle by car is the most practical way, as the castle is located in a small village and no direct public transportation is available. We will be happy to assist you.