Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Wed December 30 2015

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  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | December 30, 2015 10:00 PM ET

    Top 4 Sights in Prague’s Old Town

    Top 4 Sights in Prague’s Old Town

    Photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates

    Filled with medieval buildings, narrow cobblestone streets and impossibly blue skies, Prague recalls fairy tale scenes and magical vistas at every turn. Paris may get the glory and Florence wins the most fans but for sheer historic beauty, few cities can beat Prague.

    I actually found it quite overwhelming to visit all of the city’s sites and absorb thousands of years of history over a week’s time so I’ve come up with a manageable list of can’t miss activities to try, centered around the Old Town. If possible, I’d recommend only one or two per day so you can really let everything sink in. These are my suggestions for Prague’s Old Town attractions:

    Prague Castle

    Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ancient castle in the world, this sprawling, glittering complex was constructed in the 9th century and is the official residence of the Czech Republic’s President.

    As the number one tourist attraction in the country, it’s also reliably packed with crowds. You can wander through the courtyards, browse the museums and stroll through the lovely gardens but I’d advise either a guided tour or a system if you really want to take in Prague Castle.

    Those who don't want to be tethered to a guide should start with St. Vitus Cathedral, where the Bohemian crown jewels are kept and Art Nouveau stained glass windows encircle the walls. Explore the castle’s six different terraced gardens, scattered with fountains, sculpture and greenery. Then walk through the Golden Lane, a series of small houses where palace servants, marksmen and in 1916, the writer Franz Kafka lived. Try to catch the changing of the guards at noon.

    My favorite memory of Prague Castle is nibbling salmon for lunch on the balcony of Lobkowicz Palace, with gorgeous views of the castle gardens. I topped it off with a classical music lunchtime concert in the palace. Lobkowicz Palace is part of the Prague Castle complex, but tickets to view its museums and hear the concert are separate.  

    Charles Bridge

    This landmark bridge was named for King Charles IV and is one of the defining symbols of Prague. Constructed in 1357, it teems with ancient history. I was actually taken aback by the amount of people that roam around the bridge. Even though it’s a working bridge that passes over the Vltava River, it’s more like a courtyard where vendors line the sides and locals play music.

    One of the most famous features of the Charles Bridge is the 30 statues of saints, 15 on each side. It’s fun to stop at each one and take a photo but be warned that the crowds are so thick that it may take an hour to get to each one. If you can move past the packs of people, the views of the river and the rest of the city are stunning.

    Old Town Tower

    Rising above most of the gothic buildings, the Old Town Tower is hard to miss. You’ll see people clustered at the east wall of the tower at the top of every hour to view the Astronomical Clock.

    Dating from the 15th century, the clock announces every hour with the opening of a small trap door and the 12 apostles appear along with the angel of death, who tolls the bell. It’s an amazing sight from such an ancient clock but my favorite aspect of the tower was climbing it and grabbing soaring views of Old Town Square.

    St. Nicolas Church

    The most noted baroque church in Prague, Mala Strana is filled with so many frescos and marble sculptures that it’s more like an art museum than a church. Construction started on the church in 1673 and took a hundred years to complete. Check out the main organ, which was built in 1745 and was played by Mozart during his visit to Prague.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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