From the main railway station in Prague, the comfortable Mercedes sedan from the Iron Gate Hotel wound its way through a maze of tiny streets in a circular manner similar to a labyrinth. Though no more than a couple of blocks from the train station, it took more than 20 minutes to arrive at the Iron Gate Hotel in the heart of Old Town. The trip was a quick lesson that the best way to navigate this ancient section of Prague is by walking.
Despite the many wars that Europe has endured throughout history, Prague is the only city that has avoided most of the destruction. It is the largest city in the Czech Republic and part of Bohemia, which runs the gamut architecturally of Roman, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance influences.
From the historical Iron Gate Hotel that was established in 1519, it’s a short walk through narrow, colorful streets lined with tiny retail shops to the famous Charles Bridge. This pathway across the Vltava River from Old Town to New Town is almost 6 football fields in length and was first constructed in 1357.
The huge towers at both ends, the more than 70 sculptures, and the breathtaking views of either side of the river make the Charles Bridge the most visited site in Prague. To enjoy the beauty and serenity, early morning is the best time.
The most famous statue on the Charles Bridge is that of Saint John Nepomuk, who King Wenceslas IV had thrown from the bridge to his death in the river because he wouldn’t reveal a confession that the queen had given. Therefore, tradition implies that anyone who rubs the statue in the right place will be granted a wish or become lucky. After the bridge, enjoy the picturesque climb over cobblestone roads and up steep, stone stairways to the Prague Castle, which has been in existence for more than 1100 years.
Though parts of Prague are very modern, the true beauty of this magnificent city is the practically undisturbed history. Add to that a culture, language, cuisine, and lifestyle that is totally unique to the Czech Republic, and you have a destination that should be on everyone’s list!