The capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, is located in the very center of Europe. It is a true open-air museum of medieval architecture with a wealth of centuries-old history, delicious dishes, safe streets and friendly locals.
We visited the city in the summer, the most wonderful time for long walks, sightseeing, enjoying gardens and parks.
The History of the City
Prague is considered the heart of Europe. It also has a long history that goes back 11 centuries.
The first mention of Prague is dated to the 9th century, and its foundation is believed to have started with the construction of the wooden Prague Castle on the left bank of the Vltava River.
Prague soon became the center of the nascent Czech state. In the 14th century, the city experienced significant prosperity, and its area greatly expanded.
Meanwhile, King Charles IV founded the university which is now considered one of the oldest classical universities in the world. Moreover, he commanded to build a stone bridge named after him as well.
King Rudolf II also played a major role in the history of the Czech Republic and Prague in particular. He strongly supported the development of the arts and sciences such as astronomy, astrology, and alchemy that was then popular.
By the 18th century, the area of modern Prague included several smaller towns: the Old Town, the New Town, Malá Strana, Hradčany and some others. Nowadays, these names are the names of the historic districts of the city.
These small towns joined each other in 1874 – and Prague continued to develop: wide streets, avenues, new buildings in the Romanticism style began to emerge.
In 1918, Prague became the capital of the new state of Czechoslovakia, and in 1993, the city became the capital of the Czech Republic.
The historical heritage of Prague has been preserved very well to this day; even the Second World War was not able to destroy its cultural assets. There is a plausible theory that the Nazis did not bomb Prague since Hitler was going to establish one of his residences in the city after the victory of the Third Reich.
Today, the city is considered the visitor and cultural center of the country. Millions of tourists (an average of more than 2 million per year!) come from around the world to learn about its history and see its exciting sights.
Our Area of Residence
We decided to take a train to move from Budapest to Prague, as the trip takes just a few hours.
For Michael and Robert, this was the second train trip ever. We took all their favorite toys so they wouldn’t get bored while on the go.
In Prague, we settled in the historic district of Vinohrady and were very happy with the place we had chosen: it was full of green parks and beautiful buildings.
Even though we lived quite close to the city center, there was a peaceful and calm environment there – neither numerous tourists on the streets nor rattling transport disturbed us.
Our apartment was also cozy and comfortable. Shortly before we arrived, the housing boom began in Prague, and the cost of real estate has grown dramatically in recent years – it cost one and a half times more to rent an apartment in Prague than in Budapest.
The Abundance of Tourists
We came to Prague in late June, the time of the greatest inflow of tourists. We met most of them, of course, in the city center. The entire center of the city is very tourist-oriented and consequently prices there are much higher than in other parts of the city.
As for transport infrastructure, Prague has both buses and trams. Metro and cable car services are also available.
People also use water transport, although locals rarely take it. But for us, this was another way to take a look at the city’s beauty from different angles.
The only drawback was that many trams in Prague were quite old. When walking with the twins, we used a double stroller, and it was impossible for us to enter the old trams with it since, unlike modern ones, they are equipped with a handrail right in the middle of the entrance. We always had to wait for a more modern tram at the stops for a long time and skip the rest.
There also was an exciting event while we were staying in Prague. In the future, we were going to travel to other European countries and wanted to do it in comfort. Therefore, we decided to buy our own car so we don’t have to take the train anymore.
We wanted to buy a car in Berlin. However, we had to go to Germany several times – there, we considered different car models before choosing the one that satisfied all of us. Both we and our guys were happy with the purchase.
After purchasing the car, we found out that Prague has very unusual parking regulations. The point is that the rates of paid parking are different for all residents of the city. If you park a car in your area of residence, you pay reduced parking rates. But if you decide to leave your car in another district, you need to fork out – a couple of hours would cost an owner several dollars.
By good fortune, we were lucky to find a street with free parking close to our home, so we could park our new car for free every day.
Of course, our boys could not do without playgrounds. There are not as many of them here as, for example, in Budapest, however, both we and our guys were happy with the ones that Prague offered us.
All playgrounds in the city are totally free of charge. Most of them are surrounded by small fences and open until 7 or 8 p.m. As for the diversity, playground equipment here fits every taste – they include slides, swings, small multistory houses, towers.
Moreover, almost every playground is equipped with a small free drinking water fountain. Even on the hottest day, our boys could quickly quench their thirst and keep having fun.
Curiously, most of the children’s play areas are located in residential, more peaceful, quarters, and we saw only a few of them in the center.
But one playground impressed us especially. It was equipped with a small house that opens every morning and offers children games of their choice: from crayons, toy cars and balls to paddles and board games. We could spend the whole day with the guys there – and they always had something to do.
Old Town Square
The Prague center is rich in various heritage assets, sights and simply beautiful locations. One of them is Old Town Square, which is surrounded by impressive buildings in such styles as Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance.