Landmarks of Prague

by Mar 26, 2020

Everyone knows the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, but how many other landmarks of Prague do you know? Along with the Old Town Square they’re the top sights in Prague. But what about the many other Prague landmarks around the city?

Our journey around the best landmarks in Prague takes you around many of the best things to do in Prague.  We’ll delve into Prague history, visiting several Prague monuments and seeing a whole range of Prague architecture. We’ll discover some of the finest churches in Prague, not to mention some of the bridges in Prague other than the magnificent Charles Bridge.

Sit back and enjoy a spot of armchair Prague travel as we show you around some of the best Prague attractions. Prague city centre is quite small – closer in size to, say, Florence than Rome or London – so it’s quite feasible to get around most of these in a 3-day Prague itinerary. We’ll also suggest several Prague tours that may help you make the most of your time there.

VISITING THE LANDMARKS OF PRAGUE – OUR TOP TIPS

Image of the Prague riverfront at Karlovy Lazne
The riverfront at Karlovy Lazne

When you visit Prague Castle, make sure you also allow time to explore the rest of Hradčany, the Castle District

Hradčany also has some of the most beautiful streets in Prague, and is close to the magnificent Strahov Library, part of Strahov Monastery

Charles Bridge can be way overcrowded in peak season (May to September) – the best time to experience it is either before sunrise or around dusk, especially if you’re visiting Prague in winter

The Old Town Hall Tower can also get impossibly crowded

CHARLES BRIDGE PRAGUE

Prague what to See Image of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle at dusk
Charles Bridge, Mala Strana and Prague Castle on a glorious winter’s evening

The Charles Bridge is where most visitors’ Prague sightseeing begins.  It’s the oldest and longest bridge in Prague, dating back to the 14th century.  It has become one of the main Prague tourist attractions because of its statues and its setting, with the stunning historic Prague skyline at either end.

Image of Charles Bridge Prague looking towards the Old Town
Charles Bridge and the Old Town from Kampa Island

If you’re planning on photographing Prague, this is also where you’ll start.  The sight of the statues, domes and spires makes for an unforgettable sight, especially at sunrise or dusk. It’s also one of the best viewpoints in Prague, with superb views up and down the river and at either end of the Bridge. It’s one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe,  if not the world. The one drawback, especially during the busy Prague tourist season, is that it’s often hugely popular and exceptionally crowded.

LENNON WALL

What to Visit in Prague Image of the John Lennon Wall in Kampa Island Prague
The John Lennon Wall – give peace a chance, and stop spying on us from the church tower around the corner

The Lennon Wall is one of the most popular things to see in Prague. It’s hidden away in a quiet street, Velkoprevorské Namesti, on Kampa Island in the Mala Strana (Lesser Town) district of Prague.

The wall had been used for protest messages against the Czechoslovak Communist regime as far back as the 1960s. After former Beatle John Lennon was murdered in 1980, a portrait of him was painted on the wall, along with some of his lyrics. The wall became a rallying point for opponents of the one-party regime, with many more messages and murals appearing there.

The murals and graffiti on the Lennon Wall constantly change, so what you see in our 2020 image above may well be painted over by the time you see it for yourself.

PRAGUE CASTLE

Image of Prague Castle from across the River Vltava in Prague at night
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral at dusk

Prague Castle – Pražsky Hrad – is near the top of most people’s what to see in Prague list. And so it should be.  It’s one of a number of castles to claim to be the largest in the world – we can tell you it’s one of the most impressive and most beautiful castles in Europe. It was the seat of Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, and is now the official seat of the President of the Czech Republic.

The oldest building on the site is the Romanesque Basilica of St George, which is now used as part of the Czech National Gallery. As well as St Vitus’ Cathedral, the Prague Castle tour tickets include the Old and New Royal Palaces, the gorgeous Royal Garden and Zlata Ulicka, Golden Lane, an atmospheric street with old cottages, most of which you can enter. All absolutely essential if you ever visit Prague.

ST VITUS CATHEDRAL

Top things to see and do in Prague Image of St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle at dusk
Visiting St Vitus Cathedral is one of the top things to do in Prague

The focal point of Prague Castle is St Vitus Cathedral, the three-towered Gothic edifice that’s as close as you can get to the soul of the Czech nation. You can only enter the Cathedral on one of the Prague Castle tours. Don’t skimp on it, you’d be missing out.  It’s one of the great Czech Republic landmarks, and the most impressive church in the country.  Much of it was built by Peter Parler, who was also responsible for the Charles Bridge. The Wenceslas Chapel, which contains the shrine of the Good King and saint, is alone worth the walk (or tram ride) up the hill from the river.  Hands down one of the top things to do in Prague.

DANCING HOUSE

Image of Frank Gehry's Dancing House in Nove Mesto, Prague
The Dancing House is one of the most Instagrammable places in Prague

The Dancing House has become one of the most popular Prague places to visit in recent years. One of the most famous buildings in Prague, it was completed in 1992, and its unusual form is a signature of co-architect Frank Gehry, who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, one of the most famous Spanish landmarks. It’s probably the best-known example of modern architecture in Prague.

Gehry nicknamed the building ‘Fred and Ginger’, and from across Jiraskovo namesti, the square on which it stands, it does look like a couple dancing, the man’s hand around the woman’s waist.  The building now houses a small hotel and rooftop bar, and enjoys a great setting next to Jirasek Bridge.

PETRIN TOWER

Image of the Petrin Lookout Tower in Prague at twilight
The Petrin Lookout Tower at dusk: not quite the Eiffel Tower of Prague

The Petrin Tower sits atop Petrin Hill, close to Strahov Monastery and Prague Castle Hill. It was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and has been described as a mini-version of it. The two towers aren’t really that similar at all, but the park around it is lovely and it gives a great elevated view of Prague Castle and the rest of the city below.

You can walk up there via the short Hellichova street, winding your way up through the steep paths of Petrin Park before heading through the woods to the tower.  Alternatively, you can take the Petrin funicular up the hill from the station on Ujezd. It’s one of the best places in Prague to get away from the tourist bustle, with a real escape to the country feel about it.

NATIONAL MUSEUM PRAGUE

Image of the Natonal Museum in Nove Mesto, Prague, Czech Republic
The National Museum dominates the area around Wenceslas Square

The National Museum – Narodni Muzeum – was off Prague to do lists from 2011 to 2018 while the Main Building. – overlooking Wenceslas Square – underwent a major restoration. It’s now open again, and hosting permanent and temporary exhibitions. It’s one of the main Prague points of interest, with a fascinating current exhibition on the 1989 Velvet Revolution, some of which occurred right outside. This runs until June 2020. The building is one of the most famous places in Prague and one of the most prominent buildings in Nove Mesto (New Town), sitting at the top of a small hill above the area.

ST NICHOLAS CHURCH MALA STRANA

Image of St Nicholas Church Lesser Town Prague Czech Republic
St Nichiolas Church in Mala Strana, with Our lady Before Tyn Church in the distance

St Nicholas Church in Mala Strana (Lesser Town) is one of the best places in Prague to see the city’s famous Baroque architecture. The church’s dome and tower are familiar Prague landmarks visible from Charles Bridge and across the river Vltava. The church interior is a Baroque extravaganza, adorned with marble statues and fine ceiling frescoes.

While you’re there, make time to climb the St Nicholas Church Town Belfry next door. The climb to the viewing gallery takes you on an intriguing trip back in time to rooms where the tower keepers resided. After the views outside, continue to the very top to a room used by Soviet spies to eavesdrop on nearby embassies during the Cold War.

STRAHOV MONASTERY

Image of the church oi the Strahov Monastery in Prague
The exterior of the Strahov Monastery church

The twin spires of the Strahov Monastery sit alone on a hillside next to Hradčany, Prague’s Castle District. The church of this Premonstratensian monastery is worth the hike by itself, but the monastery is also home to the splendid Baroque Strahov library. There are a couple of bars and restaurants adjacent to the monastery, one with outdoor tables and a superb Prague view. It’s one of the best places to visit in Prague, and just around the corner from Loretanska, one of the most beautiful streets in Prague.

VYŠEHRAD

Image of SS Peter and Paul Church in Vysehrad fort, Prague
The twin neo-Gothic spires of SS Peter and Paul church dominate the Vysehrad fort

The twin spires of the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul are a familiar, much-loved Prague landmark. The Gothic Revival church is built within a sturdy fortress overlooking the Vltava river, which enjoys some of the best views of Prague. Having lived in the city for a considerable time, it is one of our Prague highlights. It is home to one of the best parks in Prague, and one of our son’s favourite Prague playgrounds. Just across the road from the playground is the Rotunda of St Martin, one of the oldest buildings in Prague, dating back to the late 11th century.

NARODNI DIVADLO – NATIONAL THEATRE

The National Theatre occupies a superb site on the banks of the Vltava, next to Legion Bridge, one bridge upriver from the Charles Bridge and a hundred metres or so from Slavonsky Island. It’s a magnificent, opulent concert venue, and along with the Estates Theatre, the most impressive Prague theatre to visit. There is also a 1980s extension behind the main building on Narodni tsreet.

PRAGUE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK

Image of the main face of the Prague Astronomical Clock
The world-famous Prague Astronomical Clock

The Old Town Square (Staromestkse Namesti) is undoubtedly one of the top places to visit in Prague. It has several of our famous landmarks in Prague, including the crowd-pulling Astronomical Clock on the wall of the Old Town Hall Tower. On the hour, two windows open above the clock, and a procession of figures of Apostles passes by each, while two other figures strike the chimes. The Prague Clock is impressive enough in itself.

OLD TOWN HALL TOWER

Image of the Old Town Hall Tower and Tyn Church from the Terasa U Prince Prague
The superb view from Terasa U Prince over the Old Town Square

The clock tower of the Old Town Hall is another of the most popular Prague tourist spots. It’s one of the tallest, most visible landmarks Prague has, with a viewing platform 70 metres above the Old Town Square. The views from all sides of the tower are unsurpassed. You’re whisked up from the ground floor in an elevator, but try to make time to see the rest of the Old Town Hall as well – it’s one of the most intriguing places to see in Prague,  and you can visit on a guided tour that also takes in the network of underground rooms and its medieval halls.

OUR LADY BEFORE TYN CHURCH, OLD TOWN SQUARE

Image of The Church of Our Lady Before Týn and Prague Christmas Market
The Church of Our Lady Before Týn is a magical backdrop to Prague’s Christmas Market

The Tyn Church is, for me, the most beautiful of all Prague buildings. Its two Gothic spires loom high above Prague Old Town Square, and each tower has crowns of mini-spires, giving it the appearance of something out of a fairytale. I’ve always thought it’s possibly the most captivating of all Prague sights, so much so that whenever I walk onto the Old Town Square and see it, even after doing so hundreds of times it feels like the first time. The church itself has a Gothic core with Baroque additions and embellishments. Its entrance is hidden behind an arcade of shops below its west front, facing the Square. It looks especially magical lit up at night, and makes an incredible backdrop for the best of the Prague Christmas Markets.

JAN HUS STATUE, OLD TOWN SQUARE

Image of the Jan Hus statue in old Town Square Prague
The Jan Hus statue with the Rococo Kinsky Palace behind

You may have already encountered church reformer Jan Hus in our article on churches in Prague.  He ministered at the Bethlehem Chapel in the Old Town, and he preached against what he saw as the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church. He was excommunicated and, in 1415, executed for his beliefs. Hus has come to symbolise resistance to oppression, first among Bohemians and, later, Czechs.

The Jan Hus Memorial was inaugurated in 1925, on the 500th anniversary of his death. It dominates the north side of the Old Town Square, along with the handsome Hussite St Nicholas Church. During Communist rule, sitting by the statue was a means of quietly expressing one’s opposition to the regime – certainly a less overt one than daubing graffiti on the Lennon Wall. 

ESTATES THEATRE

Image of the exterior of the Estates Theatre Prague
The Neoclassical exterior of the Estates Theatre

The Neoclassical Estates Theatre (Stavovsky divadlo) has undergone several name changes since it was opened in 1783, but crucially it is in a near-perfect state of preservation. It’s one of the most magnificent concert halls in Europe, and the only one where a certain W.A. Mozart performed that is still standing. In 1787, Mozart conducted at the world premiere of his opera, Don Giovanni. If you can’t attend a performance, it’s well worth booking a place on a guided tour to see the gorgeous interior. 

OBECNI DUM – MUNICIPAL HOUSE

The first time I visited Prague in the early 1990s, the name Municipal House conjured up an image of a mundane town-hall-type office block. How wrong I was.  It’s one of the best Art Nouveau Prague buildings, containing the splendid Smetana Hall, one of the best concert venues in Prague. While inside, be sure to visit the gorgeous ornate café to the left of the main entrance.

POWDER TOWER

Image of the Powder Tower at night Prague Czech Republic
The late Gothic Powder Tower, next door neighbour of the Miunicipal House

This medieval tower, Prašna Brana in Czech, is a gateway between Prague Old Town (Stare Mesto) and Prague New Town (Nove Mesto). It was begun in 1475, and was very much inspired by the Old Town Bridge Tower and Lesser Town Bridge Tower at either end of the Charles Bridge. We rate it as one of the Prague top attractions because of the stupendous city views from the outdoor gallery at the top. These include great rooftop views of its next door neighbour, Obecni Dum.

OLD JEWISH CEMETERY

The Old Jewish Cemetery Prague wasn’t the first in the city, but it’s the oldest surviving one. It’s situated in the Jewish Josefov district, just behind the Pinkas Synagogue on Siroka.

It’s one of several parts of the Prague Jewish Museum, which is definitely one of the best museums in Prague. The Cemetery, hidden from external view by a surrounding wall, is one of the most moving Prague sights. There are around 12,000 gravestones huddled, crammed and clustered together, lurching out of the ground at haphazard angles, many of their inscriptions weathered away. The Cemetery survived the destruction of the Nazis in World War II because of their cynical plan to have a ‘Museum of an Extinct Race’.

LETNA PARK PRAGUE METRONOME

The Letna Park Metronome isn’t among the most obvious places in Prague to visit, but it’s worth the steep uphill walk from the Svatopluk Cech bridge (Cechuv Most). The Prague Metronome was built in 1991 on the site of a hated monument to Joseph Stalin which was blown up in 1962. It is said that the Metronome works, but despite passing it probably a hundred times I’ve never seen it in operation. It’s one of the more unusual things to do in Prague, but offers a great view of the city. Reward yourself with a beer at the Letna Park beer garden in spring and summer, or walk in the opposite direction to the Hanavsky Pavilion where you’ll find a superb uninterrupted vista of the main bridges of Prague.

INDUSTRIAL PALACE, HOLEŠOVICE

Image of the Art Nouveau Industrial Palace in Holesovice, Prague
The beautiful Art Nouveau Industrial Palace at Vystavište Holešovice

Follow the #17 tram from Cechuv Most to Vystavište Holešovice and you’re greeted by an ensemble of beautiful, slightly faded pavilions and a palace and clock tower. The Industrial Palace is the centrepiece of the showground, with beautiful Art Nouveau glass frontage. It was built for the 1891 World Exhibition, and is still used for exhibitions and cultural events. It’s right next to Stromovka Park and its Planetarium, and there’s also a Lapidarium (the archaeological part of the National Museum of the Czech Republic), an aquarium and a light fountain. If you’re heading up to Prague Zoo from the city on tram #17, it’s on your left.

ŽIŽKOV TELEVISION TOWER

image of the Zizkov television tower in Prague Czech Republic
The unmissable – or should that be unavoidable – Zizkov TV Tower

The Žižkov TV Tower is one of those Prague sites you just cannot miss. It’s the final architectural legacy of totalitarianism to Prague, started in 1985 and completed in 1992. At 216 metres (709 feet) it’s by far the tallest building in Prague. It acts as a TV transmitter, weather station and viewing platform with restaurant. 

It’s built in a retro-futuristic style,and looks like a headquarters for the Cybermen from the BBC Doctor Who series. It was still being built when I first visited Prague in 1991, when it looked to me like a giant syringe put there to spoil the view from Prague Castle. I’ve softened towards it over the decades, especially since the David Černy crawling baby sculptures were added.

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