Astronomical Clock – Walking Tour/History Lesson Old Town & Jewish Quarter to Wenceslas Square – Climbing the Clock Tower – Failed attempt to attend a hockey game – Beer tasting
After a long night we slept in and ventured into Old Town Square just before 11 to catch up with a free walking tour.
Prague is probably the most walkable city in Europe. Most everything that a tourist would want to see is very close together and in pedestrian friendly zones. There is an underground train system as well as a complex network of trams but for the most part the next thing on the list is probably within a few hundred feet.
Lots of small tour companies offer free walking tours of the Old Town and the Jewish Quarter so we took advantage of a free tour from the same company that sold us our beer tasting and pub crawl the previous night. Our tour guide was an irishman named Luke who was going to be married soon to a Czech woman and had moved to Prague permanently. We arrived several minutes before eleven in the morning to a very large crowd of people gathered around the “Astronomical Clock” which is at the center of the Old Town Square. Every hour the clock puts on a little show. By show I mean its a giant cuckoo clock but instead of a bird its all 12 of the apostles come out and wave at you as you watch the clock strike the hour. Pretty underwhelming.
After that we started our tour and followed our guide around the Old Town Square out to a world renown concert house then through the old Jewish quarter. The Jewish Quarter was once a ghetto and the least desirable place in Prague to live. After a great flood much of the architecture was rebuilt and is now one of the nicest places in Prague. Narrow streets and pristine art nouveau architecture surround the tourists as they walk in between the shops and the tourist sites in the area. After the Jewish quarter we headed to Republic Square where the Hybernia Theatre, Powder Gate and the Municipal House are all located. The Powder gate is the ceremonial entrance to the old city where the King of Bohemia would start his coronation procession through the city.
From there we went to the border of the Old Town (Stare Mesto) and Nove Mesto (New Town). Stopping briefly at a memorial statue for Franz Kafka who despite being Czech had only had his work translated in to Czech language in the early nineties. We stopped in Wenceslas Square which was the sight of many events of the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution. Five hundred thousand Czech’s filled the square and began waving their keys in peaceful protest. No blood was shed as the Czech’s were allowed to freely elect a new government.
We walked on to Mozart’s favorite concert house which was the sight of many of his premiers and ended the tour. I had planned after this tour to look into heading out in the Prague suburbs to one of their three hockey arenas (hockey is the national sport of the Czech republic). However there is not a singular source for tickets like there are for NHL games and no one could seem to give me a straight answer as to which arena was actually hosting the game since it was a preseason game. We scrapped that idea and climbed the clock tower in Old Town Square to get some nice views of Prague before we wandered back towards our hotel for the afternoon.
On our way back we stopped at the only place we encountered in either Austria or the Czech Republic that has developed the “beer flight.” This restuarant was called The Beer “Museum” of Prague. I put the word museum in sarcastic-quotes because it was really just a restaurant that had roughly 30 Czech beers on tap which was about 30 times more than any other restaurant in Prague. Typically most restaurants carry one or two Czech style beers and some bottled imports. Corona is a luxury beer in Prague. The Beer Museum for about ten dollars gave us two flights of totally different microbrews from around the Czech Republic. Several of them were fantastic and I kept the receipts so I would be able to say what they were when I got back!
Tomorrow we would set out for another day trip to a small Czech mining community called Kutna Hora with another tour guide…