Prague: A Bohemian Rhapsody

Prague's Charles Bridge in all its statue-lined glory  (courtesy, Czech Republic Tourism)

Bohemia's Golden City whisks visitors to a bygone era with a heady mix of Baroque music, Gothic architecture, and fine Czech beer. In fact, it's easy to arrive at the banks of the Vltava River and feel like you've stepped into the ‘50s—only we're talking the 1650s. One stroll across the Charles Bridge imbues folks with true rhapsody. A confluence of languages and culture—truly a clashing of Europe's east and west—help define this city of narrow cobblestone streets, alleys, and bridges.

The majestic Czech capital has a rich and passionate history cloaked below its steeples, shrouded in a mist of romance. The city was saved from the major bombing raids during World War II and as a result, a rich architectural landscape—a mélange of medieval, Baroque, Gothic, Art Nouveau, contemporary, and even Cubist—makes it a magical place for endless arm-in-arm strolls along its cobblestone streets. From the astronomical clock to the Jan Hus statue, from the alchemist stomping grounds of Golden Lane to the city's mesmerizing, church-lined squares, a sense of mystery prevails, and many visitors simply refuse to leave until they have solved it. Of course, none ever do.

Prague is the ideal city to indulge your taste for luxury as even the finest accommodations can be had for a song. The five-star Hotel Palace Praha (Panská 12) offers the kind of commodious rooms, amenities, and service that one expects from a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. Baths outfitted in Italian marble, velvet- and brocade-appointed rooms, a stunning Viennese Art Nouveau design, and a central location make this hotel a top stay.

The intimate confines of the famous Hotel Savoy (Keplerova 6) provide boutique-hotel personality just a stone's throw from Prague Castle. This hotel features spacious and elegant rooms, impeccable service, and one of the grandest lobbies in all of Prague.

For evening indulgence, let the city's low-priced concert halls fill you and your lover's heart with song. The streets are paved with people passing out fliers to various chamber music concertos and theatrical productions. For an authentic experience, don't miss a concert at Stavovské Theater (Żelezná 11), where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni.

And while the concept of Central European cuisine may not whet the appetite, no romantic escapade is complete without careful consideration of the dining options. But fear not—while local dishes like potato dumplings and blocks of fried cheese may perpetuate the reputation, one taste of Bohemian duck will dissolve all apprehensions. For the dining experience of a lifetime, head to Malá Strana and Palffy Palace (Valdstejnska 14, +420.2.5753.0522) and you're sure to be regaling future dinner companions with stories of your night for years to come. The exterior resembles a residence more than a place of business, but beyond the imposing wooden doors is a stone staircase that leads you to one of the loveliest candlelit rooms you'll ever see. Once seated, you'll find that the cuisine is European, the service is top drawer, and that your trip to Prague simply would not have been complete without this visit.

Trziste21 The same high praise deserves to be heaped on David Restaurant (Trźzistěe 21, +420.2.5753.3109, Frequented by celebrities, this ambience-rich restaurant is tucked away on one of the many quaint little streets throughout Prague. David features a highly commendable wine list and serves only the finest Czech and international cuisine. Radost FX (Belehradská 120, +420.603.181.500, will subvert the belief that all food in Prague must be meat-based, serving amazing vegetarian food in a hip Moroccan-style atmosphere. It also becomes a full-on club after the dinner rush subsides.

After dinner, romantics are best served with strolls across Charles Bridge, alongside the river, or in the maze of winding side streets. Those thirsting for some nightlife will find plenty of reasons to stay up till dawn, from traditional pubs that line most every street to the lively nightclub Lavka Bar & Club (Novotného Lávka 1, +420.222.082.299, to AghaRTA Jazz Centrum (Krakovská 5, +420.222.211.275), a small, unpretentious club where touring jazz greats like Wynton Marsalis typically pop in for all-night jam sessions with local musicians.

Published: 28 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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