Pet Friendly Prague – Part 2
AND we are back! Last week after our pet friendly stroll through Prague’s castle grounds and the adjacent little quarter, I left you on the banks of the Vltava River near the spot where Mom proposed to Dad. To continue our visit, I invite you to go up some steps, onto the world famous Charles Bridge and cross over to the other side with me.
It’s hands down Prague’s most familiar sight. It’s also CRAZY busy with thousands of tourists so if you want to have it to yourself you have no other option other than getting up for a sunrise stroll; just like we did for the engagement photo-shoot. And even then we weren’t alone entirely.
The bridge itself is really pretty and I highly recommend it for anyone: Yes tourist crush and all. It’s pretty unique. Built way back in 1357 by Peter Parler for Charles IV (hence the name) it replaced a dilapidated bridge known as the Judith bridge. Interestingly, it was the only bridge available to cross the river for the citizenry of Prague up until 1741.
A lot of the statues you will see are actually replicas due to wear and tear and of course acid rain damage. many are now housed in the Lapidary of the National Museum or in the Gorlice hall at Vysehrad.
To amuse myself I counted the statues – to my count there were 30 of them but I do recall seeing some “empty” spots where a statue might have been missing for repair.
Once across the bridge you go under the Stare Mesto Bridge Tower. You can climb up if you like but it will have to be without your pet.
Stare Mesto (Old Town)
At some time in the 11th century, the settlements built around the castle and all the way down the hill to the river got too crowded and some resourceful folks took to taking the boat across the Vltava river on the daily since the ferry existed anyway and due to the trade route there. And thus the Old town was born.
Built in a very organic way houses, churches and market squares started to connect to one another and the crazy maze of irregular streets that we came to love gelled in the most fantastic way.
The most impressive area is the Old Town Square. It was only a five minute walk from our great little Studio and we enjoyed this space a lot. Helpfully, the tourist office is also located there and they always seemed happy to see me.
I liked this massive square because it was free of car traffic and ringed with historic buildings. the Jan Hus monument is this massive dark presence and could be intimidating if it wasn’t for the way everyone seems to sit on it.
One of my favorites was the famous Old Town Hall and its astronomical clock. Built in 1338 by King John of Luxemburg it’s actually a collection of houses cobbled together over time and walls knocked down to create a bizarre maze of corridors. It’s a rather colorful row of Gothic and Renaissance buildings and Mom loved finding a spot to have a drink on one of the many terraces nearby and just watch the crowds gather for the little song and dance the statues perform on the hour every hour.
Sadly pets are not allowed inside the Clock Tower so you’ll have to do a hand off if you can, but it is worth it to get the amazing bird’s eye view.
There is plenty of yummy food to try, and streets to loose yourself in while one biped goes up the tower and the other stays with the pooch! Enjoy the one-on-one time! I know Dad took full advantage and made me try a fresh coconut! Mom on the other hand took me to a “farm to table” place. YUMM!!
Right across from the Old Town Hall is what looks like – and may have inspired to some degree – the castle from a Disney movie: The Church of our lady before Tyn. The absolutely spectacular Gothic steeples will have you staring with your jaw hanging open for a while. Don’t worry; you will not be the only one. The entrance is a bit hard to find since it’s actually hidden between two café’s. But it’s there!
If you are standing in the square facing the steeples, to the left is the Kinsky Palace and the Chruch of St Nicholas.
To the right is a fun loop you can walk starting with Stupartska Street and Jakubska that turns into U Prasne Brany. Here you will find the gorgeous Municipal House (an Art-Nouveau masterpiece) and the much-restored Gothic Gate known as the Powder gate. A relic from when there was a royal palace in that location but now long gone.
Looping back take Celetna Street rather than Ovocnyatrh; although both lovely, Celetna is historically more relevant as the oldest street of the area. It follows an old trading route from Eastern Bohemia.
Named after the pleated bread rolls that were first baked there in the Middle Ages, it gained popularity in the 14th century as it became a part of the royal-route linking the Royal Court (Municipal House) to Prague Castle. Do stop on the main square again and have a Trdelník made from rolled dough wrapped around a stick, then grilled on an open wood fire and topped with sugar and walnut mix. Yes – I had some minus the sugar.
Most of the houses on this route date back to the middle ages as the foundations often prove; even if many had a facelift sometime in the Baroque or even later, the Art Nouveau era.
As an aside; the train station is beyond the Powder Gate. We walked to the train station from our Studio and back many times and not once – not even on our last day – did we manage to not take a wrong turn somewhere. But we loved it.
At some point you will find yourself heading back to the other side of the main square to enjoy Charles Street. It dates back to the 12th century and is a narrow, winding street that was also part of the Royal Route. We stopped for a bite to eat at the Golden Well where magnificent Baroque Facades and stucco reliefs are well worth the time. All the restaurants and cafés were pet friendly by the way, indoors and out.
In fact this area is SO pet friendly that even the small theatre (putting on a glow in the dark light performance) was happy to allow me inside for the show as long as I stayed on a lap! How cool is that?
The Clementinum is also in this area. You may recall my talking about it since that is where the wedding of our friends Michaela and Jeremy took place in the Chapel of Mirrors! Actually the Clementinum is the largest complex after Prague Castle and takes up an entire city block. And do you remember that library?
Yeah, thought you might! That library was built as an extension and after a rather brutal demolition of 30 Jewish houses after the Jesuits were given control of the university. Still, that Baroque library (one of the most beautiful in the world) may actually have been worth the pain… maybe. Do note that tourists are not allowed inside and can only view the library from behind a glass door. This photo was a gift from the newly weds that went and paid to have special permission for 5 minutes of entry. You will also notice I am NOT in that photo. No pets allowed. ever. Grrrrr…..
Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
You can’t speak of this side of Prague without touching on the fact that it was founded by two distinct Jewish communities: Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. These groups gradually merged and became a confined ghetto. The ghetto was razed in the 1890’s but some of it was saved.
The Old-New Synagogue is not pet friendly inside so you will need to do a hand off, especially if you also want to visit the Old Jewish cemetery.
The cemetery (founded in 1478 and never enlarged) is particularly sad yet fascinating. This remarkable site was for over 300 years the only burial ground permitted to Jews. Due to lack of space many had to be buried one-on-top-of-the-other sometimes 12 layers deep. There are about 12,000 grave stones crammed into this tiny tiny tiny space with about 100,000 people thought to have been buried there with the last one buried in 1787.
And do you remember the alchemist lab we visited and the story of Rabbi Low and the Golem? Well that Old-New Synagogue is where they believe the rabbi is said to have hidden Golem. Do stop near the new Synagogue to see the odd statue in honor of Franz Kafka. it’s very odd and a bit disconcerting.
And on that note I shall leave you. I think your brain might be going on overdrive by now and I am sure you can see why I had to break Prague up into 3 separate blog posts.
Next week I will take you a little further afield yet somehow still in the heart of Prague!