Charles Bridge – Train to Prague Castle – Jesuit Library – Prague Castle grounds – St. Vitus – A good nights rest.
After staying out pretty late the night before we decided we would take it easy and spend most of the day all in one area of Prague. The Castle. After a light breakfast we walked through the Old Quarter to the Charles Bridge and immersed our selves with the throngs of tourists that assemble on the bridge.
There isn’t anything particularly special about the Charles Bridge; in fact it was named after Charles IV posthumously. It was originally called the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge and did not earn the Charles moniker until 1870. Most of the history associated with the bridge has to do with it becoming damaged during floods. Prague apparently floods. A lot. Mostly time spent on the Charles Bridge is dodging the dodgey little vendor stands and picking your way through the crowds on the way to the Castle. We decided to skip the steep walk up hill to the castle and opted to walk the bank of the Vltava to the next bridge town where there is a trolley car station.
We found the ticket purchasing system in Prague to be a bit of a hassle but once we were on the tram its pretty obvious when you want to get off for the Castle. The castle grounds are massive. Using a Rick Steve’s walking tour we actually took the tram past the castle to a Jesuit library a little further up the hill. There is also a brewery and a beer garden of sorts near by but we skipped that in favor of some lighter fare. The library was definitely not worth the price of admission since the main rooms were just roped off and you could only look at them form a distance. There were some interesting bugs, sea creatures and other small preserved animals on display cases but if that is what you want to see head to a natural history museum.
After the disappointing library we walked down the hill aways to the castle grounds proper. The castle grounds are massive and listed by the Guiness Book of World Records to be largest in the world at about 70,000 sq/m. There are a couple different art museums, several churches of historical importance and the main castle itself most of which can all be visited on one rather pricey ticket. If you have all day and the inclination there are worse things to do with your time in Prague. However we found the castle proper to be rather underwhelming. A large portion of the castle had been destroyed by fire and the castle itself is rather barren. They fixed it all up but what remains is mostly empty rooms. The tour is very small considering the size of the castle.
The Basilica of St. George and Zlatá ulička (Golden Lane) come with the castle ticket. These are nice little diversions again if you are spending all day hanging out in the castle grounds. I didn’t find them particularly interesting but if Bohemian history is your sweet spot than this will be interesting. There is also a torture chamber with some original equipment at the far end of the castle grounds just before the exit. There was no one checking tickets there so you can go there without paying any entrance fees to the castle buildings themselves.
After poking around at all the little sights we could see without paying extra we cashed in our final ticket of the day St. Vitus. This place alone is worth the visit. St. Vitus is at the very least a tribute to dedication. It was started in 925 and wasn’t finished until 1929. Interestingly enough this major delay in finishing the cathedral means that the stained glass is brighter than the typical cathedral found in Europe. Also the stained glass is in an Art Deco style. There are examples of many types of architectural styles throughout the cathedral because of its lengthy build.
After spending a long time in the cathedral we meandered down through the neighborhood south east of the castle grounds towards the Charles Bridge and made our way back to the hotel. We had an early flight to catch to London!