Discover Prague, the City of a Hundred Clocks

Prague
The Prague Astronomical clock

An ancient hill called Letná rules the northern bank of the Vitava River, the dominion of its wooded arms and stony face overruled only by Prague Castle itself, just to the southwest. Its highest point, more a plateau than a peak, grants tourists their widest sweeping view of Oldtown and the river. Cresting this peak is a pilgrimage recommended by locals—good for burning away those Trdelník calories, rendering the cinnamony donut sticks little more than a decadent memory. The squared figure of Joseph Stalin once grimaced down at the city from that place; now, Koba’s place is occupied by a gargantuan metronome, a monument to retrospection, keeping time but also sounding the speed of change. This is where you’ll watch the sun meet the river’s most distant point, turning the water and the city a fitting gold. At sunset, Prague returns to its natural state: the past.

Prague
The Vitava River

Situated in the heart of Europe, in an old land without coasts but a young nation with plenty of borders, Prague is a city both expressly concerned with time and yet outside of it. The famous astronomical clock—the medieval tower plastered on the postcards—doesn’t even work. Prague in the evening, especially, is microcosmic of the Old World. A daytime stroll between the Romanesque and Gothic and Baroque facades is just a glimpse into the past; after dark, though, the city makes walking anachronisms of its inhabitants. Every street is seen through a time-halting veil: the lamplight is an amber looking glass, the people shadowy smudges in it’s otherwise immaculately preserved image. Maybe even the locals don’t belong—they’re too young, and the city too old, to understand one another fully. But that doesn’t stop these Czechs from furnishing an old, old place with all-too-new ideas.

DISCOVER THE GOLDEN CITY'S PAST
BRING some crowns. The Czech Republic, though part of the EU, has yet to adopt the Euro as its currency due to controversy within the country. Familiarize yourself with the Czech koruna—not a difficult task, considering how beautiful this money is.

 

DRINK underground. Prague is graced with hundreds of speakeasy bars. To find them, look for a telltale glow spilling onto the cobbled sidewalks from foot-level windows.

 

SEE Old Town. It may sound cliche, but the walking tours in Prague are your likeliest opportunities for new friendships—maybe even lasting ones. Find your own way around the medieval settlement, if you prefer, but beware of golems.

 

EXPLORE Prague Castle. The place is always full of tourists, but there’s a little-known area called Novy Svet tucked away behind the castle that epitomises the picturesqueness that brought you here.

 

STAY at the Augustine. Once an ancient monastery, this beautiful hotel boasts a three-storey suite in its medieval astrological tower. More importantly, it offers one of the best views of Prague Castle.

 

WHILE EMBRACING ITS PRESENT
LEAVE your fear of strangers behind. If you’re approached by a Czech on a dimly lit street, engage them. They just want to know who you are before showing you their city’s secrets. Prague is statistically the safest city in Europe.

 

DRINK craft brews. Perhaps the only European craft beer scene that rivals that of the States is right here, in the heart of the land that gave the world the pilsner. Try every new Czech brew you can find.

 

SEE an arthouse film. In the summer, catch a flick at Kino Aero and grab a drink at their open-air bar. In the cooler months, opt for the cozy, one-room Bio Oko.

 

EXPLORE Bubenska 1. Once the home of the city’s electrical company, this massive functionalist building is now the site of all things modern art in Prague.

 

EAT at Eska. The city’s most talked-about new Scandi-inspired restaurant comes from the same group redefining Prague’s cuisine with the Michelin-starred La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise and the Lokál bars.

 

Prague
Charles Bridge