A European Odyssey (Part III) – Prague (Day 2)

For the next day I had booked myself a ‘Best of Prague Sightseeing Tour’. The reservation was made through http://viator.com which is again an important resource for booking tours, day trips, walks, shows, concerts etc in most of the happening places around the world. My tour included a journey by bus, then on foot & was to finally culminate into a 1 hour cruise on the Vltava River, tea & cake included 🙂 It appeared to be the best way to get aquainted with all the major landmarks of Prague in the shortest possible time.

I was picked up by the operator ‘Best Tours’ at a convenient spot within walking distance of my hostel & ferried to the tour start point at Václavské nám. Tulips were in full bloom everywhere, a sight rarely seen in India!

Tulips in bloom
Tulips galore!

I utilised the waiting time in checking out the magnificent architecture of Eastern European buildings & could almost imagine Juliet standing in one of those balconies with Romeo serenading her from the street down below! Ok, but this wasn’t Shakespearean England 🙂

Stunning architecture at the Václavské nám, Prague

Soon I was joined by other tourists of varying nationalities & a sprightly old lady (I’m forgetting her name so let’s just call her Eva) who was to be our guide. All set, we commenced our exploration for the day.

As we passed through the city it continued to unfold itself with presentations of what can be least described as a visual treat!

Another visual delight!

Along the way we passed a building named ‘Rudolfinum’.

The Rudolfinum in Prague
The Rudolfinum

The Rudolfinum is a building in Prague, Czech Republic. It is designed in the neo-renaissance style and is situated on Jan Palach Square on the bank of the river Vltava. Since its opening in 1885 it has been associated with music and art. Currently the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Galerie Rudolfinum are based in the building. Its largest music auditorium, Dvořák Hall, is one of the main venues of the Prague Spring International Music Festival and is noted for its excellent acoustics.

Meanwhile, Eva was having a tough time giving her commentary in English, Spanish & German to cater to all her customers but was still keeping a brave & smiling face!

We soon came upon the Vltava River & the Manesuv Bridge close to the Old Town. This seemed like familiar territory!

A vintage car near the Old Town, Prague
Three generations of transport together on a cobbled street near the Old Town

We were now closing in onto the Prague Castle. The cityscape appeared so different from what we see back in our country! No skyscapers but only towers, spires & renaissance style architecture on display everywhere!

Prague cityscape


Electric tram in Prague
The electric tram is a popular means of transport in Prague

The bus finally reached its destination, the Prague Castle from where we were to continue further on foot. A long overdue selfie was in order 🙂

Best Tour lives up to its name

A little history on the Prague Castle from Wikipedia.

Prague Castle is a castle complex in PragueCzech Republic, built in the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of BohemiaHoly Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 square metres (750,000 square feet), at about 570 metres (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 metres (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.

As we alighted from the bus & started to take in the surroundings, the first imposing sight on display was that of the Loreta Monastery.

Loreta Monastery
Loreta Monastery

The Loreta Monastery was inspired by a medieval legend. In 1278, so the story goes, the Virgin Mary’s house in Nazareth was miraculously transported by angels to Loreto in Italy & thus saved from the infidel. This pretty baroque monastery has been a place of pilgrimage since 1626 when it was endowed by a Bohemian noblewoman, Katerina of Lobkowicz.

Cobbled streets everywhere showed the Czechs’ attachment to their rich cultural heritage.

Cobbled street at the entrance to Prague Castle
Cobbled street at the entrance to Prague Castle

I also saw an odd vintage car giving joy rides to tourists & ferrying them to the castle entrance.

A vintage car at the Prague Castle
Tourists enjoying a ride in a vintage car

Eva kept her flock together & walked us through the street. As we continued further, ornate lamp posts with figurines from the Bible greeted us outside the castle.

An ornate lamp post outside the Prague Castle

The street had some buildings of great historical significance.

A historical building from 1365 AD
This one dates back to 1365!


The former Hradčany Town Hall
The former Hradčany Town Hall, now a residential building (the area around the castle was earlier known as Hradcany)

The pathway finally opened out into a grand square. We were now at the main entrance to the castle & there were imposing structures all around.

The Schwarzenberg Palace

Eva gave us some time to take in the surroundings & feed the photographer within while she organised the entry tickets.

The grand courtyard outside the Prague Castle
The grand courtyard outside the Prague Castle


A section of the palace wall

The area was abuzz with tourists enjoying the balmy summer weather.

Sunshine & tourists fill the grand square outside the Prague Castle


Ceremonial guard outside the Prague Castle
A ceremonial guard outside the Prague Castle


View of Prague from the castle hill
View of Prague from the castle hill


The Archbishop's Palace
The Archbishop’s Palace

Street musicians were regaling the crowds with their renditions in one corner.

Street musicians at the Prague Castle
Street musicians at the Prague Castle

I walked around to the main entrance which is reserved for visiting dignitaries. Obviously I wasn’t one 🙂

The main gate is a piece of art by itself & is adorned with sculptures of ‘Wrestling Titans’ on either side.

Wrestling Titans sculptures at the entrance to Prague Castle
The Wrestling Titans sculptures

Wrestling Titans also known as Fighting Giants and Giants’ Gate, is a pair of outdoor sculptures leading to the first courtyard of Prague Castle.

We were finally ushered in through the first courtyard to the inner sanctums of the castle. The majestic structure on view here was the St Vitus Cathedral.

St Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral – even putting the camera at ground level I couldn’t get the complete shot because of its height

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints VitusWenceslaus and Adalbert is a Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral in Prague, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Until 1997, the cathedral was dedicated only to Saint Vitus, and is still commonly named only as St. Vitus Cathedral.

This cathedral is a prominent example of Gothic architecture and is the largest and most important church in the country. Located within Prague Castle and containing the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, the cathedral is under the ownership of the Czech government as part of the Prague Castle complex.

St Vitus Cathedral
Another view of the Cathedral with its imposing gothic architecture


Mosaic of the Last Judgment at the Golden Gate
Mosaic of the Last Judgment at the Golden Gate

The bronze doors of the cathedral were adorned with sculptures depicting events from the past.

Bronze door of St Vitus Cathedral
Bronze door of St Vitus Cathedral

We finally exited the castle complex to take the flight of stairs down to the river.

Stairs leading down to The Little Quarter

Eva quickly guided us through the streets to the Charles Bridge which was to be her next point of focus. Within a span of 24 hours I was at the same location again! I used the opportunity to take some more pictures of the statues that adorned the bridge.

Statue of John of Nepomuk
Statue of John of Nepomuk installed in 1683 AD

We walked the almost 520 metres length of Charles Bridge to the other side. It was 1.25 pm. We had accomplished a lot so far & Eva still had more ground to cover. But before everything else it was time for a well deserved lunch!

Lunch time!

Post a reasonably happy lunch & Czech beer we headed out towards the Old Town district when another artsy building caught my attention.

The Aurus Hotel Prague
The Aurus Hotel Prague

Under the patronage of UNESCO, Hotel Aurus , ex”U Zlaté studny” (At the Golden Well), Prague, is one of the most magnificent and protected monuments in Prague,  whose origins date back to the 16th century. It is situated in the very heart of Prague in the Old Town district.

A brightly coloured shop selling all kinds of touristy stuff was worth photographing too!

A souvenir shop near the Old Town

Winding our way into the Old Town, we found ourselves at the Astronomical Clock, one of the most important landmarks there. It was almost 4 pm & time for the Apostles’ walk! A little about its history:-

The Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating.

The Orloj is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism has three main components — the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; statues of various Catholic saints stand on either side of the clock; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures, notably a figure of a skeleton, representing Death, striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy; a ghost, mounted on the clock, was supposed to nod its head in confirmation. According to the legend, the only hope was represented by a boy born on New Year’s night.

Here’s a short video of the clock & the eager tourists waiting to capture the scene.

That done, we headed out towards the jetty for the final leg of the journey – the cruise on the Vltava River. It gave the opportunity to take one last look at the Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge, Prague
Charles Bridge

The cruise over, I requested Eva for a picture with her & she very graciously obliged 🙂

Eva, our guide on the Best Tours for the day

Tonight I was determined to eat at the Indian restaurant called ‘Dhaba Beas’ right next to my hostel which I had missed the previous night as it shut early. The price of a meal at the hotel was calculated by weight! You could take whatever you wished from the display, walk to the cash counter & pay the amount appropriate to how much your plate weighed. I finally had some home style Indian food but still missed the ‘rotis’ as they were in short supply & were already taken!

An Indian meal
An Indian meal at Dhaba Beas

With all senses thus satiated, I finally retired to the hostel & warm comfort of my bed for an early rise the next morning.

However, what’s a trip without some nail biting suspense-filled moments? The next morning caused much panic. I was to take a bus for the onward journey to Salzburg & after having figured out the location of the bus station had bought myself a tram ticket online to ferry me there. It so happened that there were no trams plying that route at that time in the morning & I was stuck standing on a desolate street in Prague on a chilly April morning with no idea of how to reach my bus! However, angels come in all shapes & sizes! After spending a few tense minutes & walking up & down the street I spotted a person who had also come to the tram stop & explained my dilemma to him. This gentleman was returning from a night shift & was on way home. But seeing my situation, he volunteered to walk me down to the bus station (which, it turned out, wasn’t too far), right up to the bus. Had it not been for him, I would’ve missed the bus, quite literally! Having done so, he departed with a smile without asking for any compensation of any kind & I had no words to express my gratitude to him.

My saviour on that cold morning at Prague

Thus safely deposited in the bus, I set off on the next leg of my journey to Salzburg.


  1. This is wonderfully explained and I can’t wait to witness the beauty of Prague with my own eyes 👍😋

  2. Sudeep, you are a great story-teller indeed! Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed every bit, the pics, the videos and the narration. God bless!

    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words,inspiration & blessings Sir. Salzburg Part II is now live. Hope you will spare some time to read & review that too 🙂

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