Place & Taste: Prague, Czech Republic

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Photography by Danica Halum

As the capital city of the Czech Republic and the City of a Hundred Spires, Prague is arguably one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. The Old Town is the place to be since most must-see sites are essentially a walking distance from one another, and by walking distance, I mean it might take you an hour depending on where you’re headed. It is encouraged to take the city by foot, or you will miss plenty of opportunities to really admire its beauty. Feel free to lose yourself in all the entertaining alleyways as you find niche shops and restaurants and admire the facades of surrounding buildings. The buildings are a sight for sore eyes with Romanesque and Gothic architecture peppered with medieval nooks that pay homage to the city’s past. 

 

Prague Castle | As it sits up higher than the city on top of the hill, this place appears majestic in every way you look at it. Stroll around here and find the residences of Czech royalty and stunning views of Prague. Within the castle, another notable attraction is St. Vitus Cathedral. With its Gothic spires and structures, you can admire it from the outside as well as appreciate the intricate interiors of the building. Because of the swarms of tourists, time your visit well, as this is not a place to miss.

 

Charles Bridge | This is an extension of the Gothicism found in Prague castle. With elaborate statues situated on the sides, you could be surprised, slightly disturbed, or maybe just indifferent to some of their portrayals. However, like up high at the castle, this bridge offers a gorgeous view of the city and the Vltava river. The optimal time to go would be at sunrise when there is no one around as you watch the city slowly brighten but avoid midday at all costs.

 

Old Town Square | This is a hub for stores and restaurants. You can go on a small food trip around this area with some stalls but don’t invest in the restaurants here, as they are often better when they are a little harder to find. Nearby is the Prague Astronomical Clock Tower, which you can climb to see more views of the Square. The clock itself is very elaborate and its details should not be overlooked. You can spend plenty of time at this Square because of all the niche stores surrounding it.

 

Czech cuisine is unheard of to many. As you stroll around the city, be open to trying new foods and drinks. Warm drinks such as mulled wine and medovina, a warm honey wine mixed with some spices, are especially great during the winter. A word of caution when it comes to marijuana, as it is illegal in the Czech Republic, should you find any stores that solely sell these or a blend, it is most likely a scam. Nevertheless, try everything else.

 

Trdelnik | Some say this dish is savoury, but most call it sweet. This snack is essentially a piece of dough wrapped around a cylinder that is slowly spit-roasted. Traditionally, it is brushed with melted butter then covered in sugar and cinnamon. In some cases, it is sold with ice cream that fills up its hollow interior. This food is as interesting to eat as it is to watch how it is made.

 

Pork Knuckle | This heavy dish packs on the simple flavors of its ingredients. It uses the knee joint, a puzzle to eat as you pick around the bones. It is often served with sauerkraut, a type of pickled cabbage, and dumplings — dense pieces of dough and not actually those found in East Asia. Pork knuckle is one of Prague’s traditional dishes and a beacon of the local cuisine.

Prague’s beauty lies in the preservation of its history and architecture. Prepare for sore feet as you stroll around the city but ultimately, you will find that it is all worth it. Like with any destination, be open to spontaneity through the people you meet, the places you visit and the foods you try because the most notable experience could just be hiding in that trdelnik.

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