It’s true, many cities are worth visiting and there’s no shortage of beautiful destinations in Europe. But Prague has something special and romantic that is hard to find in other cities. For twenty years we Israelis have been hopping over to Prague for a weekend, for a light break in our mad lifestyles. The city’s charms do not fade. What makes Prague such an ideal place for a timeout? Whether it’s the tasty food, the friendly residents, the nightlife or the Old City and the Jewish Quarter – or perhaps all of them together – the capital of the Czech Republic is still the winner among many European and other world capitals.
The Beer and Other Goodies
How can you take a timeout without good food and a liquid chaser on the side?
Prague’s Restaurants fill the bill. As a genuine Central European country, the Czech Republic’s cuisine integrates the influences of the East and the West, although basically Czech cuisine resembles that of its Austrian neighbor – a lot of meat in various forms, a lot of tasty sauces, special soups, baked goods and desserts. Prague boasts almost 1500 restaurants. Alongside the traditional dishes, every culinary option can be found – from sushi to organic and health foods, French gourmet cuisine and the modern fusion (and if you suddenly become homesick – don’t worry – you’ll find plenty of spots serving shwarma and falafel, too). Beer also helps to clear the head. Apart from the enjoying the beer you’ll be served in every restaurant, don’t forget to visit one of the many beer houses in Prague. And even though beer is the main attraction in the taverns and bars, you’ll still find a choice of tasty snacks to nosh on along with your half liter from the barrel.
Despite the extensive bombing of Prague in 1945 (when the Allied Forces were blindsided by the bad weather and dropped 152 tons of bombs on Prague instead of on Dresden in neighboring Germany), the historic center of Prague was amazingly preserved. Many of Prague’s most beautiful buildings (such as the famous Dancing House) were built to replace those that were destroyed in the war, and managed to integrate into the city’s unique romantic character. The beautiful center square, with the Municipality and the clock that draws thousands of tourists for the hourly spectacle, the Charles Bridge over the Vltava River and dozens of other sites will make you want to lose your way in the labyrinth of ancient streets. When you get tired of the many other tourists around you, you are invited to enjoy the tranquility of the city’s spacious parks. Make sure the memory stick in your camera has enough space to capture all of this beauty.
Kafka, Hatikvah and the KGB
Prague is not just a pretty face – it has hundreds of cultural sites as well! There is no shortage of Museums in Prague either! Worth noting are the KGB Museum, the Gastronomic Museum and the Museum of Music, and if we are on the subject of music, we should not forget the Dvorak and Smetana museums commemorating the two well known Czech composers. Bedřich Smetana, by the way, composed the Moldau, which served as the melodic basis for Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah. And last, but definitely not least, the Franz Kafka Museum, named for the well known writer who was born in Prague and lived his life there.
Marketplaces and Specialty Shops
Apart from the leading fashion chains, which could not allow themselves to ignore Prague’s popularity among tourists who enjoy Shopping in Prague, sales of local products and merchandise remain and have even expanded, including the well known Czech glass in all forms and products. Alongside special items and souvenirs you’ll find shopping malls and shops to fit any budget.
Prague’s Black Theater – Even Two
Maybe even three. The art of playing with light, shadow and darkness became so popular in Prague that new competing theater companies now exist in addition to the original Black Theater. It’s worth checking out which shows are playing in the various theaters and then deciding – although there’s no reason not to go to several different performances. In any case, the theatrical pleasure we derive from the shows is guaranteed to be very different from the theater we know.
The Jewish Connection
Prague’s Jewish sites are somewhat different from those we’ve grown accustomed to around the world. The Jewish Quarter of Prague has been in existence since the twelfth century, and Jews have been living in Prague from as early as the tenth century. Seven synagogues, a Jewish cemetery, the mysterious Golem whose legend arose in Prague, Kafka, whom we already mentioned – hundreds of thousands of Jews that were part of Prague throughout history – have left their indelible mark. A thousand words cannot describe the special experience of wandering around Prague’s Jewish Quarter.
Jazz, Alcohol and Nightclubs
Prague’s nightlife can be exciting or calm; it all depends on you. Loud or less loud nightclubs, where you can dance till the sun rises, with House music, or relax, after a day of touring, to the sounds of jazz and blues ,with a cold drink in hand; Prague welcomes the young and the young at heart, equally. The nightlife culture, the pleasures of good food, drink and music are so much a part of Czech life that it would be a shame not to take part in all of it.
For Children Too
Prague with Children is an excellent option, no less so than Prague with friends (or as a couple). First of all, children also deserve to enjoy the amazing atmosphere, food, music and parks. But, in addition, there are many activities for children, like the zoo, a giant aquarium and many museums that are especially suited to children. Also, Prague is not a complicated city for getting around (the transportation in Prague is excellent), making it especially easy to wander the city’s streets with children in tow.
Segway and Other Exciting Tours
The Segway, that exciting invention, though not quite as practical as a car, apparently was invented specifically for organized tours in the city. Likewise, you can tour with a group on electric bicycles (e-bikes) and, of course, on foot. As in any self-respecting city, Prague has many companies offering free, exciting walking tours (OK, a tip of a few Euros to the guide is a definite option)…
We hope you are already packing your bags!
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