When I arrived at my hotel in Prague in the early afternoon, I quickly packed a day bag to go exploring. My hotel was located near the National Museum, so I began there and walked down Wenceslas Square in Prague’s New Town. A local market was selling curiosities of all sorts. Many stands were stocked with hand-carved marionettes and puppets- a famous Czech craft dating back to the 18th century. I seriously debated purchasing a puppet to bring home but my budget won that argument. So, I stopped at a trdelník stand for a sweet bohemian snack. Trdelník is a rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. It originally came from Transylvania, but it is a popular treat that you’ll find all over Prague. I chose to cover mine in chocolate because why not? Within 10 minutes, I found myself (mouth agape) standing in front of Prague’s astronomical clock in the old town. Built in the 1400’s. It’s the oldest functioning astronomical clock in the world.. While I had no idea how to read the “time properly,” it was fascinating to gaze at the dials and hands of the clock featuring the sun, moon and signs of the zodiac. The astrological clock is located in the heart of Prague’s Old Town Square, which is also home to the famous Church of Our Lady before Týn which was built in the 14th century. It’s always incredibly humbling to stand before something that has existed for so many centuries.
The Old town was cobbled, lively, colourful, and buzzing with energy. With so many cafés to choose from, I observed everyone basking under the sun with a glass of wine in their hand. It truly felt like there was no care in the world on a Tuesday afternoon. I continued walking past the colourful façades of tall buildings until I reached the Vltava river. My next stop was the famous Charles Bridge. Again, the bridge is super old, dating back to the 1400s. (Sensing a theme here?) It connects the city’s Old Town to Prague Castle and is adorned with 30 baroque-style statues. The statue of John of Nepomuk is notably famous for its plaque featuring the falling priest. Stopping to rub the plaque is supposed to bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague.
I arrived on the other side of Charles Bridge just as the sun began to set. I explored the little candy coloured town and took in the details of the cobblestone streets. Before making my way up to Prague Castle, I quickly stopped at the eclectic Lennon Wall. Since the 1980’s, it has been covered with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics of his and the Beatles’ songs. While there was less John Lennon specific art than I was expecting, the wall was a symbol of peace and love. A small pedestrian bridge near the Lennon Wall was literally covered in “love locks.” Between the wall and the locks, I felt surrounded by love. A street artist performing Lennon songs on an acoustic guitar added to the atmosphere.
I was racing daylight by this time, so I quickly made my way up to Prague Castle. According to the fairytale standards, Prague Castle isn’t quite what one might expect. You won’t find a towering “castle” here but, instead, a massive composition of palaces and buildings. Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world. The soaring structure at Prague Castle that you can see from town and the Charles Bridge is St. Vitus Cathedral, which is old as you probably guessed. Nearly 800 years old. The gothic cathedral was breathtaking, with intricate gold accents and stunning stained glass windows. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to enter the cathedral or explore the palace gardens, so I made my way back to Old Town Square. Street performers had taken their stages. Clowns filled the sky with giant bubbles while small children chased the orbs below. The square was bustling with noise and laughter. I sat down for dinner, ate butter-garlic fish with a glass of wine at one of the square’s restaurants just after sunset and reminisced about my day.