Prague’s best historical highlights

Jeremy Foster

Unlike many other European cities, Prague escaped World War I and World War II relatively unscathed and undamaged from falling bombs and other destruction. The result is a nearly perfectly-preserved historic Old Town, and plenty of other still-standing neighborhoods around it. Castles, cathedrals, Gothic bridges, and even giant clocks are all part of the city’s far-reaching history, and so you’ll learn a thing or two while visiting these important landmarks. This list includes everything from ancient historical sites to medieval structures and slightly more modern pieces of noteworthy architecture, like sleek new buildings and even a graffiti wall where locals once aired their grievances.

Lennon Wall, National Theatre, Dancing House, Strahov Library, Municipal House, Národní galerie Praha – palác Kinských, Church of Our Lady before Týn, Jewish Quarter, Wenceslas Square, Golden Lane, St. Vitus Cathedral, Staroměstská radnice, Prague Astronomical Clock, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle

  • Lennon Wall

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      Admittedly quite different from the other historic sites on this list, the Lennon Wall is a graffiti wall that became a political sounding board for frustrated youth living in Prague in the 80s. It’s named for John Lennon, mostly for his peace campaigning.

  • National Theatre, Czech Republic

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      Opened in 1881, the National Theatre features the country’s best opera, drama, and dance performances. It’s an incredibly important structure for preserving the Czech language and culture, and even if you’re not interested in a show, you can still tour the building.

  • Dancing House, Czech Republic

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      Dancing House is actually a modern architectural masterpiece completed in 1996 by Frank Gehry. Its sleek design with a tower resembling a woman wearing a skirt might look out of place amongst Prague’s centuries-old buildings, but it indicates a turning point in the modernization of the city.

  • Strahov Library

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      Dating back to the 12th century, this monastery also has two stunning Baroque libraries: the Philosophical Library, and the Theological Library. Each library contains rare volumes and manuscripts, as well as beautifully painted ceilings and artwork.

  • Municipal House, Czech Republic

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      Although this is one of the city’s relatively new structures (having been built in 1912), Municipal House is considered to be one of the finest examples of Art Nouveau in the country. It’s also home to Smetana Hall, one of the city’s largest concert halls.

  • Národní galerie Praha – palác Kinských

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      Some of Europe’s most important art collections are housed inside this gallery, with the majority of the 19th to 21st-century works held in the Veletrzni Palace. In addition to prominent Czech artists, you’ll also find works from big names like Monet and Picasso.

  • Church of Our Lady before Týn, Czech Republic

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      With its ornate 80-meter-high spires and stunning Gothic architecture, this 14th-century church is one of the most recognizable buildings in Prague. Wander inside to check out the Baroque altarpiece paintings from the 1600s, the Crucifixion sculpture, and the 17th-century pipe organs.

  • Jewish Quarter

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      This was once the largest Jewish ghetto in Europe, with a long complicated history fraught with massacre and destruction. There are a lot of important things to see, like the Jewish cemetery and the Spanish synagogue.

  • Wenceslas Square, Czech Republic

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      Named for the 10th-century Duke of Bohemia, Wenceslas Square is a wide boulevard that has witnessed several gatherings for historic events throughout Czech history, including the revolution of 1848 and the creation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. The centerpiece is a statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse.

  • Golden Lane, Czech Republic

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      Golden Lane is a small 16th-century street in Prague Castle that was originally built to house the castle’s guards, but later became a hub for goldsmiths in the 17th century (hence the name). The quaint, colorful buildings here are some of the last remainders of the castle’s small-scale architecture.

  • St. Vitus Cathedral, Czech Republic

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      This is the biggest and most important religious structure in Prague and was once used for the coronations of kings and queens. There has been a religious structure on this site since 925, but the current cathedral’s origins began in 1344 with construction ordered by Charles IV.

  • Staroměstská radnice, Czech Republic

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      The Old Town Hall is actually a complex of connected medieval buildings, with its main tower being constructed in 1364. You can climb to the tower’s observation deck for stunning views over the Old Town Square.

  • Prague Astronomical Clock

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      The Astronomical Clock is a medieval clock mounted onto the tower of the Old Town Hall in the middle of the Old Town Square. Crowds gather daily to watch the hourly procession of the Twelve Apostles between 9 AM to 11 PM.

  • Charles Bridge, Czech Republic

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      Charles Bridge has been a royal coronation route between the Old Town and Prague Castle since the bridge was built in 1357. Take a walk across it and admire the city skyline views, as well as the bridge’s Gothic architecture.

  • Prague Castle

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      Founded in 870 AD, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and was home to many Czech kings for centuries. Now you can explore the courtyards, palaces, halls, and fortifications at your leisure.