We all arrived at the bus station early so that we could get good seats on the bus to Prague. The bus we traveled on turned out to be a double-decker, which made it so that we towered over all the other cars, including the trucks. The drive from Vienna to Prague (Praha) was four hours, which I mostly slept through.

The view arriving in Prague was amazing. At first the road looks plain and simple, noting very wonderous about yet another city, but then the road slopes slightly up and suddenly the bus was on top of a huge hill overlooking all of Prague!

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A little history:

Prague, located in the Czech Republic, was and still is a huge center for European culture. Like many of the cities and countries Europe, Prague has a long and complicated history, so I’ll try to condense it here so that it’s not too confusing.

During the 14th century Prague was the capital of the German Empire under Emperor Charles IV who was also King of Bohemia and who would later become Holy Roman Emperor. Under Charles’ IV rule Prague became the “Golden City” or “Rome of the North”, meaning that it was very rich and powerful. While Charles IV ruled he built a lot of wonderful Gothic buildings and founded the first university in central Europe, Charles University. He also went on to build Charles Bridge and Old Town Bridge Tower.

After the violent upheaval of the Hussite Wars, Prague was ruled by the Habsburgs and to sum up everything, the importance of Prague slowly went downhill from there. Most of the Habsburgs, all of them except Rudolf II, ruled their empire from Vienna instead of Prague.

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After we retrieved our bags from the bus, we walked only about five minutes to our hostel, called APlus. Overall, it ended up being a pretty nice place to stay and it was less than a ten minute walk to the city center. Right away we headed out to see what Prague looks like and to also find an ATM. One thing we didn’t realize is that the Czech Republic doesn’t use the Euro instead they use the Koruna. It took us long time to find an actual ATM, because all of them were hidden on the inside of the banks rather than out on the street (at least in the area we were in).

The Koruna is actually really pretty with a lot of different colors and very classic images of important people to Czech history. However, it was really confusing when I was trying to do quick math and figure out what exactly I was spending when all the bills are 100, 200, 500 and 1000. While I was buying souvenirs I felt like I was spending so much money, because the bills were so large!

After we took out enough money, we headed across the street to the Municipal House. This building is considered Art Nouveau, which was decorative art prominent in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It is also called Jugendstil German for “youth style”. The Municipal House is now a concert hall, with a few restaurants on the inside.

While I was in Prague I discovered one of the leading artists of the Jugendstil movement, Alphonse Mucha. His artwork was everywhere around the city and I immediately fell in love with it. Mucha was known mostly for his graphic art and paintings, but he also created sculptures and did some interior decorating. One aspect of his work I love the most is his attention to detail. Mucha was often hired to create posters and although his style was very complicated and delicate, he was still able to integrate the product he was hired to advertise.

Right next to the Municipal House is the Powder Tower, which is one of the Gothic medieval towers that used to be apart of the wall guarding the entrance to the Old Town.

Compared to the other, more modern and brightly colored buildings in the area, the Powder Tower was very dark and intimidating. As one out of thirteen gates used to enter the old center, the Powder Tower became less and less important as the town expanded beyond its walls.

Next we came to a building that was constructed in the style of Cubism. This particular building was called House of the Black Madonna. It is currently a museum  on Cubism.

Right around the corner from House of the Black Madonna was Charles University. As I said earlier, Charles University was the first university in Central Europe.

Across the street from Charles University was the Estate Theater. Mozart spent some time in Prague and it was at this theater that his opera Don Giovanni premiered.

To the left is Charles University and to the right is the Estate Theater. You can see a little of the time differences between the two buildings. The University looks  more gothic while the theater is painted bright green and slightly more modern.

Outside of the theater is a statue commemorating Mozart and Don Giovanni.

We eventually arrived at Wenceslas Square, the largest city square. The square is named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. Wenceslas was a duke in the Přemyslid dynasty, which ruled over Bohemia. He was a grandson of St. Ludmila, who was murdered in a family feud, and later on Wenceslas himself was murdered by his brother Boleslav I.

Wenceslas Square is often a place of demonstration, one of the most commonly known being the Velvet Revolution, which was a non-violent demonstration which successfully freed Czechoslovakia of communist influence.

At the end of the square stands the National Museum Building and a monument to St. Wenceslas.

Eventually, we made our way over to Havelská Market, which is named after Václav Havel, most commonly known for being the first President of the Czech and Slovak Federated Republic, after the Velvet Revolution.

This market was one of the better places to buy fresh fruit and fun trinkets for family and friends. I actually ended up spending quite a lot of money here buying gifts!

At the end of the market is the Church of St. Havel.

Our last site on the tour was the Old Town Square. This is one of my favorite squares, it was full of life, with performers, carriages, and plenty of tourists, but it didn’t seem crowded at all.

Surrounding this square is the Prague Astronomical Clock or Prague Orloj. This clock is the coolest clock I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t even read it, but that didn’t matter, because the detail and work put into it was just amazing! The clock was built in 1410 and somehow, after all that time, it still works.

Five minutes to the hour we all rushed over to the clock and stood in a huge crowd of people to watch the clock chime. On the hour, it played a little song and above the clock rotated 12 Apostles and as a finale the golden rooster crowed.

There were a number of weddings going on right in front of the clock. Some even released doves right as the clock tolled.

Across from the clock tower and on the other side of the square is the Church of Our Lady before Týn. This church is interesting in the way it’s built. Although it’s hard to see in the photo that I took, the two towers of the church are slightly different sizes. The one on the right is a little larger and represent Adam, while the one on the left is slightly smaller and represents Eve.

After our tour we all went out to get coffee and then later we made our way to Charles Bridge to take photos. That night we had a delicious dinner and headed back to the hostel early so that we could get some extra sleep.

A view from just below Charles Bridge, where we had coffee and cake.

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