As is the case with many European capitals, Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, has a rich, multi-layered history. Any traveling family will want to bring the kids to Prague for the experience. As the list below indicates, there are many remarkable sites in Prague that are open year round.
Old-New Synagogue (Staronova Synagoga)
This place is one of the oldest functioning synagogues in Europe. One can find the building located beneath street level because the surrounding road was raised to help control flooding in the past. Items of interest here include the restored seventeenth-century scriptures on the walls and the old wrought iron grill near the pulpit area. In keeping with the tenants of the Jewish faith, men will need to wear a head covering of some sort if they plan on visiting the site. However, paper caps are provided for visitors.
Tram 17 is the best way to get to the church using the public transportation.
Old Jewish Cemetery
As far as graveyards go, this one allows for little space. In fact, the deceased buried here could find themselves in graves up to ten people deep. The cemetery houses over 12,000 surviving tombstones that date from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. Unfortunately, these markers remain in varying states of disrepair. Although people have not been buried here for some time, the site is still historically significant as one of the world’s oldest Jewish burial grounds in existence today. This space is a good place for a stroll if the weather is nice.
Tickets to the cemetery are included with the Jewish Museum pass, which also includes entry to several synagogues in town. A combined ticket that includes admission to the New-Old Synagogue is additionally available to help travelers save a little money on their visit.
This hundred-year-old building was constructed just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the emperor’s reign and was subsequently nicknamed the Jubilee Synagogue. Regardless of what it is called, the building has been recently opened up for regular public viewings.
The structure features brightly hued, decorative elements from both the Art Nouveau and Moorish styles of design. Exhibits on Jewish history and architecture can also be found inside the synagogue as well. It is also worth trying to catch the monthly organ concerts for those who happen to be in town at the time they play. The building is open from eleven am to five pm every day except Saturday.
This edifice, the world’s largest castle, is home to the usual historical artifacts, artworks, and other items that city visitors are sure to find intriguing. All of the monarchs that ruled here added their touches, and the result is a charming mélange of styles.
While entering the castle costs money, only visiting the grounds is free. The park area is open from very early in the morning to very late at night. However, the buildings can only be visited from 9 am to 5 pm, and they close an hour earlier from November to March. Prague Castle can be reached easily by public transportation. Travelers taking the metro will want to get off at the Malostranská stop, and those taking a tram should use number 22.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Although it contains several old elements, a large number of renovations were performed just in time for church’s 1929 consecration ceremony. Gothic architecture, ancient mosaics, and modern stain glass can all be found here, but the overall effect is quite pleasing to the eye. Meanwhile, the ever-popular Saint Vitus himself rests in the Wenceslas Chapel. He is the one devout Catholics call on for assistance if they wish to avoid dog bites, lightning, or the more common oversleeping. Fortune visitors may also get to see the Czech crown jewels, which are only placed on display once every eight years.
Admission to the site is included along with the Prague Castle tour. The church opens from nine am to four pm most days of the week and holds Mass daily at seven am.
From nine am to nine pm, the world’s oldest working clock gives a short performance at the turn of the hour. This spectacle is much loved by city visitors and remains one of the most popular activities in Prague. First, a bell rings. Then, a spectral figure of death flips an hourglass and the twelve apostles saunter past. Finally, a rooster crows to bring an end to the event.
Travelers who are waiting to watch the tableau should note the four representative statues that flank the clock. These individuals represent the problems of invasion, greed, death, and vanity, all which were of primary concern to Czech citizens during the Middle Ages.
Those that want to watch the show should get off the metro at the Staroměstská stop.
St. Charles Bridge
With the destruction of the Judith Bridge by floods around the year 1342, the king commissioned a replacement known for years as the ‘stone bridge’ which now bears his name. At one time, cars could legally cross the structure, but that practice has since been banned. These days, St. Charles Bridge is filled with statues and street performers. Noteworthy views of the river can be found by climbing either one of the bridge towers.
Travelers will want to check out the Bearded Man, a carved stone head, which helped locals determine if the river was going to overrun its’ banks in the old days. One can find him in the downstream parapet on the Staré Město side of the river. A new flood gauge located nearby serves as a distinct contrast to this historical figure, showing the progression of technology since then.
Skoda Auto Museum and Factory Tour
Located in a village outside Prague (Mlada Boleslav), this small museum holds a lot of vintage automobiles made by the locally owned Skoda Company. The museum arranges the cars in chronological order from the earliest models to those released about twenty years ago. Guests should check out the depository section of the museum to see the less-than-pristine cars. International can read the displays in English, Czech, and German.
Those wanting the tour need to book tickets weeks in advance to get a spot.
This classy and affordable restaurant features elegant Art Nouveau-style decor. Many travelers comment on the beauty of the building as they dine here. Of course, the primary focus at any eating establishment is the food. The attentive wait staff serves up a variety of traditional Czech dishes for breakfast and lunch. Previous diners recommend the Café Imperial’s dill soup, veal cheeks, and Black Forrest cake.
Guests are welcome here every day of the week from seven am to eleven pm.
This former silver mining town is now a UNESCO World Heritage site that makes a perfect day trip from Prague. The journey takes a little over an hour each way. One of the local churches (Saint Barbra’s) dates back to 1388, created by the same person responsible for much of the work on St. Vitus Cathedral. However, most travelers come here for the unusual Sedlec Ossuary, located only a short walk from the center of town.
Thanks to an enterprising abbot who obtained some dirt from Golgotha and sprinkled it around the adjacent abbey cemetery, Christians clamored to get buried here in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, bodies started piling up due to some wars and plague epidemics in the area. In 1870, a creative woodcarver decided to transform the skeletons that remained into a decorative element for the local church. The result is nothing short of striking, albeit a trifle macabre. The bones of thousands now adorn the building’s walls and ceilings in various artistic patterns. Even the chandelier is made from the bits and pieces that people left behind when they departed for the afterlife.
One can usually visit the site between nine am and five pm, but it is open longer in the summer and closes earlier in the winter. Travelers to the village may also want to take advantage of a local bus that runs between the church, the ossuary, and the train station.
Autism Travel Tips:
- Due to the city’s temperate climate, the weather is pleasant year-round. Even so, travelers that hate the heat might want to avoid visiting in the summer months. Those who dislike the cold should wait until spring or summer.
- Travelers that come to Prague in December should be sure to stop by the city’s famous Christmas Market. Holiday items are the primary focus of this shopping extravaganza, but there are also plenty of traditional food and drink options on hand for those who prefer to browse through the offerings rather than purchase anything.
- Visitors to the St Charles Bridge should keep a close eye on their belongings for pickpockets.