Today I am back with another installment in my “Europe 2013” series. I have really been relishing in writing one of these posts every week or two. This week’s installment brings us to Day 6 of our five-year wedding anniversary trip to the Czech Republic.
On the morning of our sixth day, after breakfast at our hotel, we hiked across Prague, from our hotel, through Old Town, across the Charles Bridge…
…and up Castle Hill, to the Prague Castle. Here we are atop the hill, looking back down across the city:
Main entrance to the castle:
One of the main attractions at the castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral. This huge Gothic cathedral was constructed over the course of nearly 600 years.
The cathedral was quite stunning inside. Unfortunately, however, it was also COMPLETELY packed with tourists, which really took away from the experience. We actually rented an audio guide for the day, but had trouble hearing it because so many of the tour guides leading groups through the cathedral were obnoxiously, rudely, loud.
We tried to make the best of it, but it was hard to take in the history and beauty whilst being packed like sardines and having crazy people shouting things in Spanish in my ear. Loco!
There are 22 side chapels throughout the cathedral, and we viewed them all.
One of the popular attractions was this silver sarcophagus of St. John of Nepomuk.
The Chapel of St. Wenceslas, who was killed by his brother in 935 AD, is built over Wenceslas’ tomb.
Sun shining through the stained glass windows in one of the side chapels:
After touring St. Vitus Cathedral, entered the Royal Palace. Things were a bit calmer here. This is the enormous Vladislav Hall.
“Over the centuries, the room has hosted jousting matches, coronations, feasts of all kinds, and in modern times the inaugurations of Czech presidents.” [source]
Found within the Royal Palace:
St. George’s Basilica, founded in 920 AD, also lies within the castle complex.
After touring the enormous and flashy St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica seemed much more quaint and simple in comparison. It is the oldest surviving church building in the Prague Castle complex.
Next we toured the one- or two-room former dwellings on Golden Lane within the castle, which once housed Franz Kafka. Patience was required to navigate the crowds.
We headed inside, to the upper levels of the buildings on Golden Lane, where it was less crowded. We found a torture chamber and several torture instruments. Well then.
We also found lots of really cool suits of armor here and had a lot of fun checking them out.
A few hours at the Prague Castle was just about all I could handle. The crowds were pretty intense and it was all just a bit too theme park-esque for my taste. The introvert in me wanted to go curl up in the fetal position in a dark, silent closet for a few hours afterwards. But my wanderlust got the better of me, and naturally, we continued our day of explorations.
After departing the complex, we walked alongside the castle, past the gardens, and found a roomba for grass! We laughed hysterically and sat and watched. We are weird.
Before completely departing the castle, we followed our guidebook’s recommendation and stopped for lunch at the Lobkowicz Palace Café. Here I had the most amazing lunch – a Mediterranean platter featuring hummus, tzatziki, pita, grilled eggplant and veggies, olives, feta, sundried tomatoes, and a prosciutto-wrapped breadstick. Perfection!
The huz went for a panini and soup combo.
Also we each drank a $6 bottle of Nestea. Ouch. Fun story: we actually asked our server if he would be able to fill our bottles with water after we drank our tea, since we were epically dehydrated and couldn’t afford to stay hydrated at that price. He obliged but we think he and his buddy behind the bar were chuckling at us. I ain’t got no shame! Girl’s gotta stay hydrated! Yes I drink tap water. (Yes it is safe in Prague [or, at least, I never got sick and drank it in our hotel daily]).
This was a great little spot for lunch! Unfortunately all of the terrace tables overlooking Prague were filled, but we still scored a nice, shady table within the courtyard on this blazing hot summer day.
Finally, we were ready to make our descent from the Prague Castle.
We decided to descend in the classiest way possible – through a garden.
This terraced garden we found sits adjacent to the Prague Castle, and gently leads visitors down Castle Hill and back to a lower elevation.
The entrance fee is a few dollars per person, but it was totally worth it. We also had the place to ourselves.
Amazing view of Prague, near the garden entrance:
I must stress again how incredibly HOT it was this day! We were literally running from one shady spot to the next to take it the views. It kind of felt like that hot lava game you played as a kid, where you jump across all the furniture in your parents’ house without touching the floor. But I think that made the experience that much more memorable, because we were laughing hysterically. This crappy picture below was taken while I was hiding behind that big bush, for shade. Can’t you just FEEL the heat!?
I don’t actually know how hot it was while we were in Prague because everyone kept telling us the temperature in Celsius and I am an ignorant American and I don’t know what that means. But we kept hearing it was in the high 30s. Also known as “hot as a mutha trucker.”
See, here I am hiding from the sun again. My German and Irish complexion wasn’t designed for such sun exposure. (PS – I invested in a big floppy hat while out shopping later in the day.)
Here we are at the bottom of the gardens, looking back up at the Prague Castle!
Overall, I think it was a really great experience touring the Prague Castle, but it wasn’t one of my favorite things we did during our trip, as the crowds somewhat took away from it. If I had to do it again, I’d probably just skip the tour of the interior of the castle, and instead simply check out the views of Prague from the top of Castle Hill and enjoy the peaceful gardens some more.
Other Posts from this Trip:
- Europe 2013: Day 1-Arriving in Prague
- Europe 2013: Day 2-First Full Day in Prague, Part I
- Europe 2013: Day 2, Part II–Taste of Prague Tour
- Europe 2013: Day 3-Dresden, Germany
- Europe 2013: Day 3-Dinner at Café Imperial
- Europe 2013: Day 4, Part I-Prague’s Old Town Square
- Europe 2013: Day 4, Part II-Prague: Mala Strana
- Europe 2013: Day 5, Part I-Vyšehrad
- Europe 2013: Day 5, Part II-Kutná Hora