Prague is known for its ancient Astronomical clock, the Prague Castle, and the Vltava River. The city standouts with its gorgeous architecture, rich cultural scene, as well as tasty beer and cuisine.
As the capital city of the Czech Republic since 1918, Prague is known for many things, including its stunning architecture, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene. The city’s Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle are all iconic landmarks that attract visitors from around the world. The capital is surrounded by mountains and the Vltava River flows through the heart of the city.
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What Is Prague Known For?
Prague is famous for its lively nightlife, bustling festivals, and intricate churches and cathedrals. The prominence of spires on these impressive structures is also how the capital earned the nickname ‘City of a Hundred Spires’. Some churches are located in castles, whilst others are in the public squares. Prague is also known for its delicious Czech beer and cuisine, which can be enjoyed at local pubs and restaurants throughout the city.
History, Culture, And Traditions Prague Is Known For
Signal Light Festival
The Signal Festival is a unique and colorful kind of celebration that spans over 4 days. It involves artistic expressions through lights and innovative technologies. These creative installations are displayed and projected all over landmarks that Prague is famous for, such as The Old Town Square and Charles Bridge.
You might have experienced similar festivals in other cities around the world such as Fête des Lumières in Lyon or Vivid Sydney in Sydney.
In Prague, the festival is usually held in mid-October. This is the perfect time to illuminate the streets, as it starts to become dark earlier, and the weather is not too humid. It’s an incredible time to visit the Czech capital.
The predominant religion in Prague is Christianity, mainly Roman Catholic. This means that Easter is one of the most celebrated holidays, and you do not need to be religious to partake in festive activities.
If you visit during this time, be sure to check out the Easter Markets. Often, they are held in large public places such as St. George´s Square or Republic Square. There are arts and crafts as well as traditional foods.
Similar to other countries, it is also tradition to paint eggs and go to mass at the many churches scattered throughout the city.
The Bohemian Kingdom was the predecessor of the modern Czech Republic. It began in the 12th century and lasted until 1918 when Czechoslovakia declared independence from Austria-Hungary. In 1993 the country separated into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Some of the greatest buildings that Prague is famous for were established during the Bohemian Kingdom. For example, Emperor Charles IV founded Charles University in 1348, the oldest in the country. St Vitus Cathedral, a Gothic church, was established by King John of Bohemia, who laid the first stone.
Every year on April 30th, the Czechs partake in a ritual to dispel evil spirits known as Čarodějnice. Because witches are said to be at their weakest as the temperatures rise; this is the perfect time, before the summer begins.
This is done by burning an effigy of a witch and lighting a bonfire. Of course, this is treated as more of a celebratory festival in modern times, much like Halloween.
In Ladronka Park, people dress up as witches and gather around the flames. There is food and drinks, and the atmosphere is joyous.
What is Prague known for if not its dynamic nightlife?
A fun fact about Prague is that it is home to the largest club in Central Europe, called Karlovy Lázně. The five-story facility has diverse dance music ranging from the popular R&B to raging techno and mellow hip-hop.
Similarly, Letná Beer Garden is a must-see attraction during the warmer months. It is an outdoor place that overlooks the city, offering affordable tap beers and refreshing cocktails or energizing coffees. You will find plenty to do in the evenings even when traveling in Prague in winter.
Some of the popular activities include taking a romantic night cruise on Vltava River, or taking a trip back in time with a Medieval style dinner and performances. Food, music, drinks and laughter, it doesn’t get any better.
Areas And Districts Prague Is Famous For
Old Town Square
The Old Town Square is a huge public space where you can find several of the attractions that Prague is famous for. If you did not factor in much time for Prague, shame on you! We’re just kidding, but Old Town shoudl certainly be one of your first stops since you can visit many iconic landmarks at close proximity.
The historic square was founded in the 12th century and has witnessed many events. The Old Town Hall is one of the most famous structures, especially for its Astronomical Clock. It also houses Saint Nicholas Church and Our Lady before Týn Church.
Prague’s Jewish Quarter, also known as Josefov, is a fascinating and historic neighborhood that is famous for its rich and well-preserved sites of Jewish heritageJewish heritage. The quarter dates back to the 13th century, when Jewish residents were ordered to leave their homes and settle in a designated area.
The Jewish Quarter has seen many transformations, withstanding various periods of oppression, expulsion, and the catastrophic events of World War II. Today, there are many iconic monuments still standing strong here.
The Old Jewish Cemetery, which dates back to the 15th century, is one of the oldest of its kind and is believed to be the resting ground of more than 100,000 individuals. You can also visit the Old-New Synagogue that is a stunning example of Gothic architecture.
There is much stories and sights to discover in this place. To learn about the history of the city and the Jewish community, visit the Old Town and Jewish Quarter with a local guide.
New Town (Nové Město)
In contrast to Old Town which was founded in the 10th century, New Town was established in 1348 by Charles IV. It is also three times larger.
The New Town is historically significant because it is a site of defenestration: there are only three in Prague. It is one of the dramatic history Czech is known for. This was the beginning of the Bohemian Revolt, where people were thrown out of windows as a sign of protest.
Some famous landmarks in the neighborhood include Wenceslas Square, National Theatre, and The Dancing House.
Lesser Town (Malá Strana)
Lesser Town is located on the west bank of the Vltava River on hilly terrain. The district was founded by Bohemian King Ottokar II in 1257.
When exploring Lesser Town, you will find that it is more peaceful than other areas. Wallenstein Garden is a beautiful natural landmark at the Senate Palace. Here, you will discover fountains, statues, and peacocks!
Additionally, the Franz Kafka Museum is dedicated to one of the most influential figures from Prague, a renowned writer.
Vinohrady is without a doubt the greenest district in Prague. It was established in the 14th century when it was named after the vineyards that once dominated the area.
Rieger Gardens overlook Prague Castle and are renowned for its beer garden. Here, you can sit and enjoy a cold beverage whilst relaxing in the sun. A fact about the Czech Republic is that the population has one of the highest beer consumption in the world!
In contrast to other busy districts, Vinohrady is a breath of fresh air. The central area, called Peace Square, features the scenic St Ludmilla Cathedral.
A close walk from Vinohrady is Vrsovice, an equally tranquil neighborhood, known for its hip bars and artistic buildings.
Landmarks And Architecture Prague Is Known For
Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. It is home to many famous landmarks that Prague is known for.
There are several churches, such as St Vitus Cathedral, St George’s Basilica, and Holy Cross Chapel. In addition, there are the Old Royal Palace, New Royal Palace, and Belvedere, which is Queen Anne’s Summer Palace. The Belvedere is located in the Royal Gardens.
Additionally, you can find many monuments here. Kohl’s Fountain in the second courtyard and the bronze Saint George Statue on his horse are amongst the most significant.
Here’s a lesser known yet incredible fact about Prague Castle. Amidst all that grandeur, there’s an unassuming set of circular steps in the courtyard that won’t draw much attention visually. However, it’s called the ‘Echo Stairs’; when you stand on the circle in the middle and speak, you can actually hear you own echo reflecting back due to the structural setup.
The famous arched bridge that crosses the Vltava River is named Charles Bridge. It is named after King Charles IV and took half a century to construct during the Middle Ages.
On the north side of the bridge, you can find a sculpture of St. John of Nepomuk, who was the Queen’s confessor. Legend goes that he was thrown off the bridge because he refused to tell the king what the Queen had said. Consequently, five stars appeared in the sky, explaining the five stars on his halo in literature.
St Nicholas Church Gothic (Malá Strana)
St Nicholas Church is one of the visual highlights in Lesser Town. It features a mixture of Baroque and Gothic and was built in the 1700s on the site of a former church. This previous church was also dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
From the exterior, the dome reaches 70m and is a prominent part of the skyline. Inside, the picturesque chandelier and intricate fine art will leave you breathless. There are masses, concerts, and other performances held here.
However, this is not to be confused with the other St Nicholas Church in Old Town Square. That is equally stunning in its own right and you will not miss it when visiting the Old Town.
In Old Town Square you can find Old Town Hall, a former seat of administration. On it, you can find the Astronomical Clock that Prague is famous for as it is one of the oldest clocks still in operation.
The clock was constructed all the way back in 1410. It is made with an astronomical dial depicting the sun and moon, a calendar dial representing months, and is painted with Catholic Saints.
In 2018, the clock underwent a modification to add an LED screen, which was criticized for changing its whole appearance. Despite this, it remains one of the most visited landmarks.
Everyday from 9am to 11pm, the Twelve Apostles will circulate in motion at strike of each hour. It’s a quick, small show but you will see people gathering in front of the clock before the hour mark to catch the action.
Food Prague Is Famous For
Roast duck is considered to be the pinnacle of Czech food. The texture of the crispy duck skin paired with the succulent meat is why it is so popular.
Commonly, the dish is served with a variety of sides. Sweet cabbage is the most popular choice, which is made by pickling red cabbage. Another iconic side to this is bread dumplings, which are rolled into a ball, boiled, and sliced.
Open sandwiches are exactly how they sound: a slice of bread packed with garnishes, consequently leaving out the second piece of bread.
The reason they are so popular is because they are easy to make and are incredibly versatile. You can simply use whichever toppings are left in your pantry, making it an affordable dish. Usually, they are served at parties or as sides at large gatherings.
Deli meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, pickles, cucumber, and tomato are the most frequently used garnishes.
A healthy yet hearty choice of dinner is undoubtedly soup. Much of the famous food in Prague is warm and therefore ideal for the chilly winters when the temperatures significantly drop.
The most common example of this is Fazolová, known as bean soup. This uses navy beans which are packed with protein. Another example is Česnečka, a garlic soup. This is famously a hangover remedy and is supposedly a cure for even the worst symptoms.
Sauerkraut, potato, and beef are other options served in restaurants.
Trdelník Chimney Cake
The most iconic dessert you will find in Prague is called Trdelník, otherwise known as chimney cake. This is a type of spit cake.
The dough is spiced with walnuts and wrapped around a stick. This creates a characteristic hole in the center. Subsequently, it is dusted with sugar and cinnamon. There are more fancy versions that are served with ice cream and other goodies.
This is a very common street food, which you will see at markets, bakeries, and cafes. Furthermore, it is eaten on Saint George’s Day.
Famous People From Prague
Madeline Albright was the 64th U.S. secretary of state, and the first ever female to be appointed the position.
She held this role from 1997 to 2001, whilst Bill Clinton was President. Furthermore, she was a member of the Democratic Party.
Despite being born in the Czech Republic in 1937, Albright immigrated to England and then the USA. This was to avoid persecution by Nazis, as many of her relatives had suffered.
Tomáš Rosický is considered to be the greatest footballer that Prague is famous for.
Initially, he began at Sparta Prague, before transferring to Borussia Dortmund. He finally settled on Arsenal and played in the Premier League from 2006-2016.
Additionally, Rosický captained the national team for a decade. To this day, he is one of the top goal-scorers for his country.
Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. The novelist was infamous for burning most of his work, and as a result, the majority of his novels were never finished.
The longest novel by Kafka is The Metamorphosis, where a man finds himself suddenly transformed into a cockroach.
Another world-renowned novel is The Trial, which was published posthumously. It narrates the life of Josef K, who defends himself from an unknown crime he is accused of.
Discovering More Things Prague Is Known For
These are just some of the many things Prague is known for, and you cannot being to imagine how the Czech capital has evolved throughout the years.
The city has a rich cultural scene, with festivals like the Signal Light Festival and Easter Markets, that you can absolutely take advantage of when visiting during the different seasons.
Check out the charming districts, exquisite architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine. You are sure to uncover many more things Prague is famous for throughout your journey into this historic city.