Prague

Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

A fairytale setting for love

In a nutshell…

Known as the “Golden city of a hundred spires”, Prague is a fairytale destination crammed with romantic architecture. One of Europe’s most beautifully preserved cities, its heart‐stopping skyline is dominated by castle turrets, minarets and domes; everywhere there are picturesque clusters of ancient, pastel buildings. Steeped in history, each street is lined with Baroque and Gothic churches, and Wenceslas Square, the centre of the Velvet Revolution, is now a bustling commercial centre with pavement cafes and bars.

The city is bisected by the swirling Vltava river and overlooked by seven hills, one of which is surmounted by Prague castle and its royal parks and gardens. It is small enough to wander around on foot, but there are always horse‐drawn carriages for evening rides when the illuminated city really comes into its romantic own.

Prague also has a rich cultural history and is famed for its music, literature and puppet theatre. Native musical greats include Dvorak and Janacek, and the Prague Symphony orchestra and Czech Philharmonic rate amongst Europe’s best. It was also home to writer Franz Kafka and, of course, the writer and former president Vaclav Havel.

Magnetic attractions

  • Prague Castle The Castle’s compound includes a palace, an art gallery, three churches, and Franz Kafka’s house. It’s well worth the wander up the hill for the views down over the River Vltava, the Charles Bridge, and the apple orchards of the nearby American embassy.
  • Little Quarter Full of mysterious arcades and cobbled streets dating from 1257, this maze is perfect for a romantic stroll as the sun goes down. Make sure you can impress your partner by humming something from Don Giovanni as you saunter past the house where Mozart composed his masterpiece.
  • Old Town Square The heart of Prague is a historical showpiece surrounded by Romanesque and Gothic houses. Time your appearance in the square with the mechanical performance of the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall, built in 1410.

Romantic rendezvous

  • Charles Bridge A grand 14th‐century affair, weighed down with statues, minstrels, and dancers. The perfect place to view Prague castle at night.
  • Royal Summer Palace Built by King Ferdinand for his wife Anna, this 16th‐century palace has a ‘singing fountain’. Linger long enough and you’re supposed to be able to hear melodious tunes emanating from the water…
  • Golden Lane This street with its tiny houses is one of the oldest in Prague. Legend says it was inhabited by dwarfs and alchemists, but it actually housed the artillerymen who worked at the nearby castle. It’s romantic nonetheless!
  • Bohemian countryside Take a trip to some atmospheric Gothic villages clustered around churches ‐‐ and look out for the deer in the pine forests.

Love bites and love potions

Start your meal with Bechoroova, a potent yellow liqueur, and move on to Budvar beer, the local pride and joy. Czech food is a rich and meaty affair featuring dishes like wild rabbit casseroles, venison, and potato and sour cream.

The Palffy Palace, with its high ceilings and gilt mirrors, is the perfect place for a lighter lunch al fresco on a long balcony overlooking a garden. For an intimate candle‐lit dinner for two, head to the Opera Grill with live piano music accompaniment. If you’re fond of art nouveau, go for The Hanavsky Pavilion, which has perfect views of the city. Macdonalds in Wenceslas Square is not very romantic, but might inspire a debate on the success of capitalism over communism. Kavarna Slavia, centre of the dissident movement in the past, is a must‐visit bar.

Propose here

On Charles Bridge in the evening in full view of the illuminated castle, preferably with snow on the ground and the sound of classical music in the distance. Who could possibly refuse you?

To get you in the mood

Milan Kundera’s novels, delightful combinations of humour, romance, philosophy and politics, are frequently set in Prague. Try The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Joke, his short story collection Laughable Loves, or The Unbearable Lightness of Being ‐‐ also a memorable film starring Daniel Day‐Lewis and Juliette Binoche.

Language of love

Vsechno nejlepsi k vasemu vryoci! = happy anniversary

Miluji te = I love you

Gratuluji = congratulations!

Vezmes si’ mie = will you marry me?

Stags and hens

There is a good young crowd in Prague and bars and taverns stay open late. With Budvar beer going cheap, there is nothing to stop the revelry going on until well into the early hours. The U Flecku bar is the biggest in the city and the waiters automatically give you a new beer when your last glass is two‐thirds empty. You have been warned…

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