This year, Easter falls on March 27, an ideal date to celebrate the spring! After the long winter months, the days grow longer, the cold breaks up, and the gardens fill with flowers: Prague is even more beautiful and romantic. Just hop on board the camper van and set it in gear to explore.
Of course, once you arrive there, it is recommended that you park the camper van and continue on foot, using the efficient public transportation system that serves the whole city.
Nestled around the Vltava River, the city is characterised by a culture layered with different historical periods and trends. Its districts are also diverse, each distinguished by its own particular style, and it is not by chance that Prague has inspired many artists and is permeated with an aura of allure and mystery, of legend and magic.
First the main city of the Kingdom of Bohemia, and later the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Prague has steered the country with authority, both during the period of unification and after the split with Slovakia. Its strategic geographical position has placed it since ancient times at the heart of a network of exchanging goods and ideas that has enriched the city, creating an unusually broad cultural foundation, with a blend of religious, philosophical, and artistic influences.
Prague is divided into well-defined districts that until the end of the Eighteenth Century were independent cities. Located on one bank of the river are Staré Mesto (the Old Town), Josefov (the Jewish Quarter) and Nove Mesto (the New Town), while on the other bank we find Hradčany (the Castle District) and Mala Strana (the Lesser Quarter). Over the Vltava stands the beautiful Charles Bridge, which connects the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter. Also worthy of note is the Vinohrady (Vineyards) quarter, a prestigious, elegant residential area. Prague is a city well-suited to long walks. We recommended spending at least three days there to visit the main attractions without rushing: just wear comfortable shoes.
STARÉ MESTO (OLD TOWN)
The Staré Mesto district makes up the historic centre of Prague, and its main symbol is the charming Old Town Square or Clock Square. Here, already in the weeks before Easter, Easter markets are held every day with wonderful handicrafts. Over 100 different stalls offer wooden toys, crystal and glass jewellery, embroidered fabric dolls, and finely dressed figurines. The most typical part of these markets, however, are the vivid colours of the hand-painted eggs that Czech women, dressed in traditional garb, are ready to personalize in front of you, by painting your name or a special message. Traditionally, the eggs are decorated by girls to then be given to boys on Easter Monday. There are numerous techniques for decorating eggs, and all require a certain level of skill. The most different materials can be used, such as beeswax, straw, watercolours, onion peels, adhesives, etc.
There is also an award given each year to the best Easter eggs with the most original decorations. Of course, in the square there is no lack of seasonal specialities to be savoured at the many kiosks. Around the central monument of religious reformer Jan Hus, you can admire, among other things, the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn with its splendid spires, and the palace of the Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock and its magnificent figures and from which, every hour, comes the procession of Apostles. Climbing the Town Hall Tower, you can enjoy a splendid view of the whole quarter. Exiting the square and entering Celetná Street, you arrive at the Powder Tower, an historic city gate connected to the Municipal House, a prestigious Art Nouveau building in Prague.
JOSEFOV (JEWISH QUARTER)
Not far from the Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter presents a precious piece of history. Definitely worth a visit is the Gothic style Old-New Synagogue (Staronová Synagoga): it is the oldest building in the ghetto, and a visit there is a journey into the memory and culture that the Jewish community has brought to the city of Prague. Not to be missed are the Klausova Synagogue, the Spanish Synagogue, and the Jewish Museum.
The Jewish cemetery deserves special mention: it is a place full of mystical legends and wonderful stories. Founded in 1478, for over 300 years it was the only place where Jews were allowed to bury their dead, and because of lack of space, the tombs were stacked in several layers. The density of headstones (about 12,000), the silence of the place, and the dim lighting create a unique effect. The largest and most visited headstone is that of Rabbi Löw, a Prague rabbi said to have had magical powers: legend has it that leaving tickets or stones on his tombstone will make our deepest wishes come true.
NOVE MESTO (NEW TOWN)
This part of Prague, built in 1400, was designed as the main commercial centre, and this is still its primary nature. Here there are companies, hotels, banks, department stores and boutiques, theatres, cinemas, and museums. The district's centre is Wenceslas Square which in mediaeval times was home to the horse market and is today the most crowded and lively area of Prague, a centre for gatherings, demonstrations, and important events.
Also not to be missed here are the Easter market stalls, where, among other things, you can admire and buy colourful "whips" - yes, whips! These are objects that are proudly displayed at Easter, with their roots buried deep in ancient Czech traditions: the willow whips braided and decorated with ribbons and rosettes are called Pomlázka. On Easter Monday, it is a tradition for men to go knocking at the doors of relatives and friends, and here, symbolically and gently, they "whip" girls and women on the legs with the pomlázka. The gesture is used to give them the health, youth, and vitality of the young willow. It is a ritual-symbolic act of good fortune aimed at women.
Continuing the visit, Charles Square, formerly the location of the cattle market, is the largest square in Prague, and is the location of the Eighteenth-Century House of Faust. Not to be missed is the eccentric building called the Dancing House, designed by Frank Gehry. Admired and criticized at the same time, it has a distinctly original form grafted into the orderly row of century-old buildings. If you like shopping, here you can take advantage of two big avenues (Národni and Na Přikopě) that mark the border between the New Town and the Old Town and buy the most classic souvenirs of Prague: Bohemian crystal, an artisanal tradition more than seven centuries old, wooden marionettes, garnets, watches, and antique prints.
THE CHARLES BRIDGE
The Charles Bridge is a Gothic stone bridge built in the Fourteenth Century during the reign of Charles IV that connects the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter. At 516 meters long, the bridge has thirty Baroque statues; most of these are copies, with the originals preserved at the Lapidarium, one of the city's museums. The most famous is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr who was thrown into the Vltava River, and touching his statue is said to bring good luck and to ensure a return to Prague. At the ends of the bridge rise mighty towers from whose summit you can enjoy a view of the bridge from above. The bridge is always very crowded by local artists and vendors. We recommend that you visit it at sunset or at night, when it is less crowded so as to enjoy the breathtaking view of Prague Castle, illuminated in the evening sky.
HRADČANY (CASTLE DISTRICT)
A symbol of the city and a must-see destination is Prague Castle. It rises on a hill on the left bank of the Vltava River, from which you can enjoy an unforgettable view of the city, romantic and bathed in timeless charm. The majestic fortress is practically a city within a city. Inside the castle, which is divided into three courtyards, the many buildings include the Royal Palace, once the sovereigns' abode and now the residence of the President of the Republic, and the impressive Gothic-style St. Vitus Cathedral, resting place of the monarchs' remains. A captivating walk can be taken down Golden Lane, with a series of small, colourful houses, a favourite residence of artists and, once upon a time it is said, of alchemists. In fact, it is said that during his reign King Rudolf II made alchemists toil day and night to produce gold and to distil an elixir of life. Inside the castle there is a Museum of Alchemy, which displays, in a picturesque setting, stills, ampoules, and other instruments. Also part of the castle complex are the imposing guard towers, the Royal Garden, the Ballgame Hall, the Imperial Stables, and the Prague Art Gallery, which houses a permanent collection of Nineteenth-Century Czech art.
MALA STRANA (LESSER QUARTER)
After exploring the castle area, you cross the gardens and reach the Lesser Town Square, the heart of the Lesser Quarter. Here the Church of St. Nicholas (Charm Sv Mikulaše) is considered the most beautiful example of the Czech Baroque; its dome and bell tower are a distinctive feature of the panorama that you have from Prague Castle. Characteristic is Kampa Island, a small strip of land surrounded by the waters of the Devil's Stream and the Vltava River. From the Lesser Quarter, it is possible to reach Petřín Hill, which offers a spectacular view of the city and a pleasant stroll. The hill can be reached on foot or preferably via the funicular from Ujezd Street. On the summit is an interesting observatory, the beautiful and fragrant Rose Garden, and there is the television tower, designed as a miniature of the Eiffel Tower. Standing 216 meters high, the tower, from the windows of its panoramic deck located 93 meters up, offers a 360-degree view of the city and of Central Bohemia.
A splendid residential area known for its Art Nouveau and neo-Renaissance architecture and with a reputation for prestige and elegance. From the Fourteenth to the Eighteenth Century, the area was covered with vineyards, hence the district's name. They were later replaced by rose gardens, orchards, and residential buildings.
Visit the main square with the imposing and unusual Church of the Sacred Heart and then down Mánesova Street, lined with colourful Art Nouveau buildings. Continuing the journey, you reach Peace Square dominated by the neo-Gothic Church of St. Ludmila. Many famous artists worked on the interior and exterior of the church. In Peace Square we also find the majestic Vinohrady Theatre. Vinohrady also offers the chance to escape the crowds and indulge in its many pleasant parks. The largest are Riegrovy Sady in the north-east and Havlíčkovy Sady in the south.
PRAGUE FOR CHILDREN
If you are in Prague with your children, there are many ways to keep them entertained. On Petřín Hill is a mirror maze, and pony rides are available. The Prague Zoo can be entertaining for the children. It can be reached by public transportation as well as by a boat trip on the Vltava River. Within Prague Castle is the Toy Museum, the second largest in the world, offering a collection ranging from ancient Greece up to the present day.
In the centre's many squares you will often have the chance to attend pleasant puppet shows.