Prague Castle District
You have to get away from all the tourists that jam the famous 14th century Charles Bridge to discover the reasons you came to Prague. In addition to the fabulously well-preserved art nouveau architecture on street after street in the older sections of the city, Prague Castle is a must see. It’s a town within a town, the largest castle complex in any European city. First, you have to get to it. Sissies take a bus or a street car up the steep streets, but YOU will want to hike up to one end of the complex and then down the other side through narrow winding streets (Take some fruit and chocolate for a snack when you get to the top of the hill, and make sure your pace-maker is under warranty.)
This is the oldest part of Prague, though most of the buildings up here are 17th century and later. In addition to the Castle, large courtyards separate the government buildings and several churches, the largest of which is the cathedral of St. Vitus (1344-1929) with its beautiful modern stained glass windows. These are the spires atop Castle Hill that you can see from miles away, but getting a close-up picture is tough – especially from a cell phone camera!
To the west of Castle Hill (yes, you’ll have to walk down and then climb back up again) is the Strahov Monastery and Library. Fantastic views of Prague’s Old Town (across the river). The monastery has its own brewery, so stop for a late lunch of sausages, dumplings and St. Norbert beer; you’ll need it by then.
There are so many other places to see in Prague that should be on your 1000 Places list: the central square, Wenceslaus Square in the new town, the old Jewish synagogues and cemeteries. There is also this quirky statue of Franz Kafka, an early 20th century addition just a block or two away from a 13th century synagogue.
Oh yes, you must walk across the Charles Bridge, but do it in the very early morning before the hordes of other tourists come, and watch the sun rise on the Prague Castle. You won’t be sorry.