A Walk to Remember in Prague

After my tour of the Jewish Quarter in Prague, I was led by Jirka, our local tour guide, to a walk around the rest of the district, to see the Rudolfinum, the old arcades that are now home to luxury shops and fancy restaurants. He pointed out some interesting factoids here and there - like how most of the cobblestones are in fact centuries-old, although resetting is a daily affair.

I must say Prague is a perfect place for walking tours, as long as you have a cap (or a wide-brimmed hat for the ladies), sunglasses, and sunscreen. All traditions of architecture have examples here, and they survived the wars because the city was a little far from where the action was. Beautiful Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Classical buildings with red-tiled roofs truly make for a very pleasant view.

The height of my walking tour is the Prague Castle, which is a huge complex built on an elevated part of the city - a hilltop, actually. You see, it is the center of political, religious, and social activities. The castle has both the charm and weight of a truly old structure, one where the Bohemian monarchs of centuries past lived. There is also a moat, gardens, and of course, thick, thick walls that were always important among warring leaders.

Today, the complex draws hundreds of thousands of tourists raring to have a glimpse of such edifices as the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica of St. George, the Royal Garden, and the Golden Lane. The latter is a row of small houses, including one where the famous Czech novelist Franz Kafka stayed. Souvenirs are being sold here, too.

But my favorite is the St. Vitus Cathedral, which is also the seat of Prague's archbishop, whose construction began in 1344. The ornate details on the facade, ceiling, the altar, and the stained glass windows were truly breathtaking! Even adding to its appeal is how the different parts do not match, because it was built over 500 years. Some are Gothic, some are neo-Gothic. And the guide said that if I had more time and if I were so inclined, I should have signed up for climbing up the Cathedral Tower, for a view of Prague. But I believe I got it anyway on my way down, when I stopped for some beer at the Letna Beer Garden.

A tall glass of beer in spring, atop a hill in Prague - it was a great day!

For more about my Prague trip, visit my blog Richard Kimball Jr's Travel Blog.

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