Prague monuments - TOP 10
- The Prague Castle
- Charles bridge and bridge Towers
- Old Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock
- St. Nicolas Church
- Jewish quarter (Josefov) - Prague Ghetto
- Powder Tower
- Petrin (Eiffel) Tower
- Church of Our Lady of Victory
The Prague Castle, an ancient symbol of the Czech lands, is the most significant Czech monument and one of the most important cultural institutions in the Czech Republic.
The Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci). According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70 000 m². A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications in the 14th century. The famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik was responsible for extensive renovations in the time of the First Republic (1918-1938). Since the Velvet Revolution, the Prague Castle has undergone significant and ongoing repairs and reconstructions.
Originally it used to be the residence of princes and kings of Bohemia, since 1918 it is the seat of the president.
St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral is a gothic cathedral, the spiritual symbol of the Czech state, founded in the year 1344 by Jan Lucembursky (John of Luxembourg) and his sons Karel (Charles) and Jan Jindrich (John Henry) in the place of the original romanesque rotunda. The construction proceeded according to the plans of Matthias of Arras (until 1352), and then Petr Parler (1356 - 1399). The construction period protracted to nearly 600 years and it was finally completed in 1929. Decorated by precious works of art it encloses St. Wenceslas' Chapel and the Crypt with tombs of Bohemian kings. The coronation jewels are deposited here, too.
The Charles Bridge over the river Vltava is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Prague. It is the oldest bridge in the city, built between the 14th and 15th century, and it spans the river with 16 pillars. It is lined with statues and lamps and this scenery together with the Gothic bridge towers on both ends makes the Charles Bridge a breathtaking historical monument. There is no better place in Prague for a walk in the evening.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. had the Charles Bridge built there in the 14th century. He laid down the foundation stone on 9th of July 1357, at 5:31 a.m. It is no coincidence: this date was carefully chosen, because it makes an interesting numerical scale. When it is written in the chronology the year – the day – the month – the time, it makes a scale, going upwards and then downwards: 1 3 5 7 9 7 5 3 1. It is not the only one “magical” circumstance of building the Charles Bridge. You can see all of them in a movie, screened in the Old Town Bridge Tower.
History of the bridge
The Charles Bridge was built by Petr Parler and finished after his death in the beginning of the 15th century. It is about 515 metres long and 9.5 metres wide. It was originally called “Stone Bridge” or “Prague Bridge”, the name Charles Bridge was established around 1870. It was damaged by flood several times: in 1432, when the water demolished 5 pillars, in 1784 and especially in 1890, when 2 pillars and 3 arches were demolished.
Oil lamps were placed on the Charles Bridge in 1723 and the staircase leading to Kampa Island underneath it is from 1844. Prague public transport could run over the Charles Bridge since the 19th century. Horse-drawn trams run there since 1883, and they were replaced by electrical trams in 1905. Buses could drive over the bridge later, but all this transport threatened the bridge, so it lasted only to the World War II. Cars could drive over the bridge till 1965.
Towers of the Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge has towers on both ends. The Old Town Bridge Tower was built by Petr Parler. It is adorned with statues of Charles IV., Wenceslas IV. and St. Vitus in the lower part and St. Procopius and St. Sigismund in the upper part. It is one of the most beautiful Gothic towers in Europe.
There are two bridge towers on the Lesser Town end of the Charles Bridge. The smaller one was a part of the Judith Bridge originally. It was rebuilt in Renaissance style and lowered in 1591, after a fire. The bigger tower was built in the 15th century and inspired by the Old Town Bridge Tower. The gateway between the two bridge towers is from the 15th century as well.
Charles Bridge statues
The Charles Bridge is decorated with 30 statues on the parapets on both sides. Most of them were placed there between 1706 and 1714. The first cross stood on the Charles Bridge in the 14th century. The Bruncvik statue was set there before 1503, but there is only a pedestal preserved. It can be seen in the Lapidary of the National Museum and there is a replica on the Charles Bridge. The oldest preserved statue is St. John of Nepomuk from 1683, the newest one is St. Cyril and Methodius from 1928. Several statues were damaged by floods during the centuries. They were mostly placed elsewhere then and replicas were set on the bridge. You can see some of the original statues from the Charles Bridge in the Lapidary of the National Museum or in the Gorlice hall at Vysehrad.
Old Town's ancient town hall was established in 1338 after the agreement of King John of Luxemburg to set up a town council. Several old houses had to be knocked together over the centuries as the Old Town Hall expanded. A Gothic chapel and a neo-Gothic north wing were destroyed by the Nazis in spring 1945. The chapel has been reconstructed. The most popular part of the tower is the Town Hall Clock (Orloj). Originally instaled in 1410, the clock was rebuilt by the Master Hanuš in 1490. It consists of three parts – the procession of Apostles, the astronomical clock and the calendar. The main attraction is the hourly procession of the 12 Apostles. The height of the tower is 69,5 m and it offers a great view of the city.
One of the most valuable buildings of the "Prague Baroque" period with a dominant dome and the belfry (architects K. Dienzenhofer, K. I. Dienzenhofer, A. Lurago, 1704–1756). Also the inside decoration of the church is a specimen of the high baroque style (J. L. Kracker, K. Skreta). W. A. Mozart played the organ here during his stay in Prague. Permanent exhibition: Prague Bells.
It dates back to the 13th century but its present appearance is mainly the result of a vast redevelopment action undertaken between 1893–1913. Only a few most significant buildings were saved, the living testimony of the history of Prague Jews which lasted for many centuries. Yet these buildings form the best present complex of Jewish historical monuments in the whole Europe.Six synagogues remain from this old settlement which includes the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery - the most remarkable in Europe. Except the Old-New Synagogue they are part of the Jewish Museum.
Old-New Synagogue is the oldest preserved synagogue in the Central Europe. It was built in the early gothic style in the late 13th century and richly adorned by stonework. Also the inside furnishings (gothic wrought-iron grill, wrought chandeliers) are of ancient origin. Up till now it has served as a house of prayer and the main synagogue of the Prague Jewish community.
Old Jewish Cemetery - Jewish Museum has been established in the mid-15th century it served as a burial site till 1787. Among 12 000 gothic, renaisance and baroque tombstones are also those of Rabbi Jehuda Löw (1609) and Mordechai Maisel (1601).
A monumental entrance to the Old Town built by Matej Rejsek in the gothic style in 1475.
The construction of the 65m-tall Powder Tower begun in 1475 under the reign of King Vladislav II Jagiello and for a few centuries has been known as the New Tower. It used to form one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town and contribute to the beauty of the Royal Court, the king’s residence. The New Tower was built in concordance with the Old Town Bridge Tower designed by Peter Parler a century before.
In 1483 the king moved to Prague Castle and the bridge was left unfinished. Between 1875 and 1886 the tower was rebuilt, decorated and redesigned by Josef Mocker. The gate acquired its present name in the 17th century when it was used to store gunpowder. Today, there is a small exhibition about the tower and it is open for visiting.
Ancient legends situate the original seat of the Czech princes - the legendary Princess Libuse and the first Przemyslides - on the hill. In fact, however, this fort had not been founded until the Prague Castle was already in existence, since it dates back to the mid-10th century. In the latter half of the 11th and in the 12th century Vysehrad used to be the Przemyslides princes' main residence which brought about a generous building activity within its walls. Among noteworthy sight there are the precious romanesque rotunda of St. Martin (interior only for groups announced in advance), the gothic church of St. Peter and Paul (in the late 19th century rebuilt in the neogothic style), the Vysehrad cemetery used as a burial site of the Czech outstanding personalilties since 1869 with a collective tomb called Slavin, the underground casemates housing the originals of several baroque statues from the Charles Bridge. The Vysehrad site is open the whole day.
It offers one of the best views over Prague and its surroundings. They say that on a clear day one can see Czech highest peak, Snezka, situated 150 km away.
299 stairs to climb, about 1 hour of your time you have to spend to get on top of the 60 meters high tower on Petrin Hill.
Originally a Carmelite church this Early Baroque church was built on the site of an earlier protestant Hussite Church after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Inside, there is the miraculous Infant Child of Prague, one of the most revered images in the Catholic world, dating from the year 1628.
The shrine in which the world-famous statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague is maintained and venerated is located in Karmelitská Street in the Lesser Town of Prague. The church, dedicated to Our Lady of Victory and St. Anthony of Padua, is visited by hundreds of thousands of believers from the Czech Republic and throughout the world every year. At the same time, the church of Our Lady of Victory is a cultural and artistic monument of worldwide importance. It is a part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The exceptionally well-preserved interior is decorated by works by the best Czech artists of the 17th and 18th centuries.
A Marian pilgrimage place with a copy of the Italian Santa Casa (G. Orsi, 1626–1627) including also the baroque Church of the Nativity of Our Lord (K. I. Dienzenhofer, 1734–1735). The ground is encircled by a cloister and chapels. The spire houses a carillon which consist of 27 Loreta bells which tune a Marian song We Greet You a Thousand Times (every hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The most valuable item of the liturgical treasury is the so-called Loreta Treasure, a collection of sacral object from the 16th to 18th centuries. The most famous of these is the Diamond Monstrance adorned with 6 222 diamonds.
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