I’m interrupting the October tales of my trip down-under to tell you about a quick train trip round Europe last week. Facebook followers will have seen pictures from along the way when I travelled for approximately 24 hours by train from London’s St Pancras station to Paris to Zurich to Prague (the last being a sleeper train).
Central Prague can be easily explored on foot although there is also quite an extensive tram system, including the spot where only one tram can pass under the flying buttress between houses and trams need to wait for the others travelling in the opposite direction.
I used the trams quite frequently because my hotel was near Prague castle, meaning it was up a steep hill. The hotel is part of the Strahov monastery which includes 2 churches, a library and 4 (four!) restaurants, all of which sell the Strahov monastery beer.
It was a short walk to the castle, famous for defenestrations, the second of which marks the start of the 30 years war. It isn’t clear from wandering around which window it was, they haven’t painted a great big arrow next to it unfortunately. It remains the seat of the president of the Czech Republic and is guarded by the palace guard.
There is a good view over Prague Old town from the walk between the castle and monastery.
Walking around the old town I made sure to see all the ‘important’ sights, although the central square was slightly obscured by a Christmas Market, but the astronomical clock and spires were easily visible.
Walking around Prague I was struck by how unaffected by Soviet influences its architecture seems to be. In both Sofia and Katowice I saw buildings quite centrally with the sense of the functionalism of the communist era. This was not the case in Prague. It is full of baroque and renaissance buildings, there is some Art Nouveau and more recent buildings like the Dancing Houses right by the river, so the lack of functionalism isn’t just because there was not space.
There are many sculptures dotted around the city, these two inspired by completely different locals, the writer Franz Kafka and Czech Nationalist František Palacký.