In the heartland of Bohemia, The Czech Republic’s compelling history comes together with modern counter-culture in an incredible melange of art, architecture and music. Prague’s architectural splendour can seem almost overwhelming, with Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque facades jostling for space among art nouveau, neoclassical and cubist designs.
Dotted between the buildings modern art installations vie for attention, evidence that against this historic backdrop the spirit of Bohemia is still alive and well.
One of the city’s most iconic monuments is Prague Castle, which is stunning both inside and out. Hop on a tram up the hill to explore both the castle and its neighbour, St Vitus’ Cathedral. The Garden of Paradise on the castle ramparts offers a fantastic birds-eye view over the red-tiled roofs and city spires. Across the river the Jewish quarter draws visitors year-round with its Gothic synagogues and historical exhibitions. The Jewish Museum and Cemetery is of particular note, with one of the world’s most extensive collections of Judaic Art. With such a vibrant art scene there is no shortage of galleries and if your tastes are of a more contemporary nature the capital has much to offer. Galerie Rufoldinium is among the best for modern art while Galerie Jeleni hosts more experimental exhibitions, though you are equally as likely to stumble across a striking installation while simply strolling through the cobbled streets.
When you have exhausted the bustling medieval lanes of the Old Town head to one of Prague’s riverside parks or take the funicular to the top of Petrín Hill. The walk up the Petrín Tower is worth the effort for what are undoubtedly the best views of the city from its summit.
Festivals abound throughout the year and an early highlight is Masopust on Shrove Tuesday, a vibrant street party with costumes and feasting in preparation for Lent. May and June play host the Spring International Music Festival and the Festival of Puppet Theatre respectively, while a visit in October for the annual Jazz Festival times perfectly with the mild autumnal days and turning leaves. The snow-covered markets in December are a must for getting into the festive spirit.