Prague’s gothic beauty bewitched me from the very beginning. After the picturesque train ride into the city, we walked into the old town. As we came around a corner a few blocks in, we saw the dramatic gothic city gate. Heading toward it, we also passed through a colorful and dazzling square.

Before we did any sightseeing, we seached for and eventually found our hostel (the iPhone app Prague 2go has a map that allowed us to do this). We stayed in the Old Prague Hostel, which ended up beig one of my favorite places we stayed yet. Though we were in a dorm room with some loud snoring, the hostel staff was extremely nice and helpful. The also provided breakfast, free wi-fi, and free luggage storage after we checked out.

After we got situated in the hostel we headed out to explore. Following passing through the city gate we evetually entered the town sqaure. Unfortunately it had been turned into a Hyundai sponsored concert venue for the World Cup. That made it a little difficult to appreciate the medieval beauty at eye level, but it’s a testament to the beauty of Prague’s old town cityscape that even with a bunch of car advertisements the architecture was still the most striking thing in view.

From the town square there are a number of gothic and art noveau buidlings. There are spires and time-blackened stone walls. In the square and, later, elsewhere, Laura and I felt more like we were in a fairytale land than anywhere else we’ve been.

Of course with sites as impressive as Prague’s there are a lot of tourists. And while the square was packed with them, it was relatively easy to escape them by wandering into in of the many tiny, snaking alleys.

After checking out the square and watching the famous astrological clock strike the hour, we went to the tourist office to look into entertainment. We had heard that Prague was a cheap place to see classical music, opera, etc., and at the tourist office we actually bought some if the last standing room-only tickets for a performance of the Prague Philharmonic the next night (100 Czech krona, or just under $5).

Because the tickets were really cheap for the next night, we decided to see something else that night. We found another performance for a classical string quintet, which took place in an extravagent old building. (These performances do cater to tourists, but the one we saw was fun, inexpensive, and gave us a chance to see the interior of a classy private building).

Afterward, we strolled through the castle grounds, which also feel like they should be in a fairtale. Because the tours and paid portions of the castle were closed, we also got to see the area when it was largely deserted. The emptyness, combined with the low lighting, cobbled pathways, and narrow corridors made a more romantic walk than I ever thought could take place in real life (as opposed to a movie).

And that was largely how Prague went: improbably and almost ineffably romantic.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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