Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Prague - The Christmas Markets

Happy Tuesday HotelClickers!

Just a quick reminder that Thursday is a bank holiday here in Italy so there will be limited phone support on this day. Anyway, down to brass tacks. This is the article I've been looking forward to the most. Prague is a big favourite destination in the HotelsClick offices. It's definitely a top 10 wish list city for most of us here, I've already been and loved it. There is no better time to visit than Christmas. Snowy Prague is one of the dreamiest, most enchanting cities you can visit.

Today we're going to focus on Prague the capital of the Czech Republic.

Prague - the QTPrague Christmas Markets run from Dec 1 to Jan 1. Prague Christmas Markets stay open until New Year and are only part of the large selection of Christmas festivities. The 5th of December is Mikulas day (St. Nicholas Day) and marks the start of the Christmas period for Czechs. Starting at 4pm the event is a ceremony of sorts as 3 figures move around the Old Town Square with children following them. It doesn't sound very exciting but is a tradition that draws thousands. There is a mass held on Christmas Eve at 21.15 in the old town square, the largest outdoor worship event in the Czech calender. The most spectacular event is the New Years Eve party on the Charles Bridge and Old Town square where thousands of fireworks are let off and happy revelers join together to see in the new year.
There are several Christmas Markets in Prague during the season but the most famous two are held in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The Prague Christmas markets consist of brightly decorated wooden huts, selling Czech handicrafts, hot food (corn on the cob, sausages and local specialties) and warm drinks. Outdoor Christmas shopping is so much easier with a cup of hot wine (svařené víno or svařák) in your hand! A good selection of Christmas stocking fillers can be found in the markets. Products include Czech glass, wooden toys, scented candles, hand-made jewellery, ceramic mugs, hats and scarves, puppets and Christmas tree ornaments. You can also see traditional foods made fresh right in front of you.
Christmas markets are not just about shopping. In the Old Town Square children can stroke sheep, goats and even a lama. There is also a Bethlehem manger scene - a large wooden stable replete with straw floor depicts Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the Three Kings. Most impressive of all is the Christmas tree, shipped from the Sumava mountains in the South of the Czech Republic. Erected in the Old Town Square, the tree is draped in a blaze of lights, which are turned on every night round 5pm. Set against a dark Gothic skyline, this is a spectacular sight.
Who flies to Prague?
No one should have trouble flying to Prague, every country in Europe, major US, Canadian and Australian airports operate a service here.
  • EasyJet fly from London Gatwick, Stansted, Newcastle, East Midlands, Belfast & Bristol.
  • RyanAir fly direct from Dublin.
  • Click here for a list of all flights to Prague.
What hotel deals can you offer me?

Prague is full of terrific hotel deals. Let's choose a budget, tourist and luxury class hotel. These prices are based on two nights, in one double room and include breakfast. The price is for the entire stay for the room. These prices are an example of 7 December, 2 Nights, 1 Double Room.

Click to see all Prague Hotels
What else can I see and do in Prague?

The City of Prague is the perfect place to simply walk around and explore. The medieval streets reveal a perfect example of renaissance and medieval architecture. Prague was largely untouched by the bombing and devastation of World War II and is not blighted by grey blocks that cast a dim shadow over other Eastern European cities ravaged by war and then the communist regime. Prague is the golden city and has a splendid collection of churches, bridges, museums, galleries, restaurants and bars to keep the most ardent city breaker happy.

The most famous sights in Prague are concentrated in the old Town (Staré Město) so most visitors try to obtain accommodation in this area. The metro system is reliable and cheap but the coverage isn't perfect so be prepared to walk between sights.

Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and the pride of Prague. Once home to ancient monarchs, roman emperors and presidents, today it is the home of the crown jewels of the Bohemian kingdom. During the Nazi occupation of Prague the castle was the headquarters of Reinhard Heydrich, the mastermind behind the Nazi death camps who was later assassinated by a group of Czech resistance fighters. The castle is Prague's most visited attraction and contains within its boundaries many churches, gardens and palaces. You could easily spend an entire day within the walls. Open from 9am daily.

Wenceslas Square is the first thing most people think about when they imagine Prague. Actually less impressive than the old town square, Wenceslas Square is the famous place upon which Good King Wenceslas apparently looked down on the Feast of Stephen (sing along with me). No Christmas time visit to Prague would be complete without visiting the square. Actually a boulevard and not a square at all, the area is home to finance, business and banking as well as super pricey hotels and restaurants. Not a place to frequent on a night, the square comes alive with prostitutes and patrons of various strip clubs, this is a popular area for stag nights so if you are visiting Prague with children, this is only a suitable destination during the day. There are some worthy monuments and churches in the "square" so it's not a disappointment but if you're looking for a picture postcard Prague square, go for the Old Town Square.

Old Town Prague is the Prague of your imagination. This area is home to the astronomical clock and the old town square. Certainly the most picturesque part of the city and also well connected to the Josefov, Mala Strana and the Charles Bridge areas, you need an entire day to explore this section of Prague.

Some of the best bistro's and bars are in this area of Prague, it is the cleanest and best representation of the city. This area was settled in the 9th century and is the birthplace of the city. Prague 1 is the most exclusive and expensive district and some of the world's best shopping chains and individual boutiques have their home in this area.

The National Museum is the most interesting museum in the country, highly respected and a joy to visit. Founded in 1818 the museum is a national treasure. The museum is split into 5 major departments. The department of prehistory containing artifacts from the Roman and Greek eras. The department of classical archaeology traces the development of the Czech nations through artifacts. The department of ethnography provides factual data about the development of Slavic nations. The department of Numismatics is a collection of coins used in past and present day Czechoslovakia and lastly the department of theatre chronicles the development of theatre in Czechoslovakia. The museum is very large and several hours should be allocated to view all the exhibits (6+ hours).

Prague is a huge and varied city, we have not included any information about the Charles Bridge or the many art galleries and museum that the city has to offer. You could spend over a week in Prague and would still have many famous sights left to visit.
Where can I eat in Prague?
The traditional cuisine has influences from Germany, Poland and central Europe although the Czechs also have some dishes that are truly Czech born and bread (get it?). The national dish is Vepřo-knedlo-zelo (Pork, cabbage and dumplings).
Here are some recommendations (£ - Inexpensive - under £10 for a main course - ££ - Reasonable £10-£15 for a main course - £££ - Pricey £15-£24 for a main course- ££££ - Expensive £25-£35 for a main course - £££££ - Daylight Robbery - £35+ for a main course)
  • BELLEVUE - international food, fine cuisine, views of Charles bridge - £££££
  • BARFLY - Czech
cuisine in the heart of old town, well priced - ££
  • LVI DVUR - city centre, true taste of Czech cuisine, very good - £££
  • U MALIRU - french modern cuisine Praha 1- £££££
  • HOT - great steak and pasta dishes in Wenceslas Square - ££
  • Prague is a fantastic city, so much choice and still a very cheap destination. If you have any Prague recommendations to give then leave your comments below. If you have anything to say about HotelsClick, this guide, Prague, any previous destinations or just want to say "hello" leave your comments below.

    Ciao for now from hotelsclick

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