Prague is known by many names - in Latin it is mater urbium, the mother of cities, and in Czech this is affectionately shortened to matička, the little mother. The city’s old and beautiful architecture is also alluded to in names like the “city of a hundred spires” or “Golden Prague”. No matter what our ancient city is called, there is one aspect which has always been difficult to summarise. Pulsing somewhere underneath the medieval cobblestones and above the Gothic towers is a special feeling that never fails to strike visitors of this ancient crossroads. From the Golem of Prague to the novels of Kafka, this magical and sometimes dark feeling pervades much of the history of this city.
And it is a long history indeed, with roots stretching far back into the reaches of time. Prague was a centre of alchemy, astronomy and architecture. Yet it is no less vibrant a city today. With efficient public transit and lively pubs or hearty restaurants on every corner, Prague is above all a centre of good living. The city is alive with music, art, theatre and other forms of culture, both home-grown and imported by the many who have felt the pull to make their homes here.
Yet despite this onslaught of a rich history and a bustling present, Prague rarely overwhelms. For a city of 1.2 million people it feels surprisingly like a village. In this way Prague is truly like a good mother, protecting you but also letting you discover life’s secrets for yourself. And there are certainly many secrets hidden in this city in the centre of Europe. Prague’s rulers and visitors alike have been trying to get to the bottom of them for centuries, but of course no good secret could ever be summarised with a single name.
Prague Castle - 30 min walk from Sophie's Hostel.
What would an ancient city be without a castle? Prague’s castle is actually a walled complex including a church, palace and other noteworthy buildings, and is one of the largest in the world. Its dominant feature is the impressive Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, nearly 600 years in the making.
Charles Bridge - 25 min walk from Sophie's Hostel.
This bridge over Prague’s Vltava river was long the only way of crossing the water, contributing to the city’s importance as an east-west trade route. It was commissioned by its namesake, King Charles IV, who allegedly used astrology to determine many aspects of its construction. With three bridge towers, it is lined on both sides by statues, as well as by many street vendors.
Old Town Square - 20 min walk from Sophie's Hostel.