Mysterious and medieval Prague: those hidden gems off the tourist path
Prague is one of the most ‘conveniently located’ cities in Europe. From any of European cities it is also an ideal location to plan a europtrip, as you can easily reach Vienna, Dresden (2 hours), Rome, Budapest, Paris by bus or by train.
But most of all, Prague is a golden, mysterious city associated with alchemists, old legends, medieval times and ghosts who belong to it inseparably. Amongst all of the museums and historical sites, you will find attractions that echo events of a bygone era.
Prague has been for a long time a political, cultural and economic center of central Europe complete with a rich history and cherished cultural heritage, which makes it a must destination, especially when it’s already warm but a high season didn’t start yet.
Besides, you can choose to discover your own Prague: medieval, historical, cultural, gastronomic or festive. There are so many completely diverse things to do without repeating the same itinerary.
Prague is replete with medieval restaurant which seem absolutely authentic. Even without searching for it, you will definitely come upon one of them walking the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town. Taste a nice cutlet, a roast knuckle of pork or dumplings or just take a local drink, one of the amazing beers or spirits, but do it in the evening to enjoy your medieval dinner in the candlelight accompanied by medieval songs and melodies. If you ask for WI-FI, you will get a logical answer «we don’t have Internet here, it’s medieval”.
You can also come for a medieval show. If you come for a show to U krále Brabantského, you will enjoy A 5-course medieval dinner with unlimited drinks in addition to a special medieval performance, in a show that includes swordsmen, jugglers, and belly dancers, all accompanied by music. You could choose from 6 delicious menus for your 5-course meal, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free – the only one feature that could remind that it is not absolutely medieval, after all!
If you feel like medieval times work great together with your stay in Prague, then discover other medieval restaurants and pubs: Prague Medieval Tavern, St?edov?ká Kr?ma, U Pavouka and Anno Domini 1471 – they are all worth visiting,
Golden Lane (Zlatá uli?ka)
If you decide to go to U krále Brabantského, do it after visiting Zlatá uli?ka, which is nearby. It will works as a foreplay and will make even a bigger impression.
The Golden Lane is technically a street but there are only shops/exhibitions there, not actual inhabitants, so you need to pay 250 CZK (~10 EUR) to enter. Useful information, you can enter the street for free between 16:00 and 22:00, however the shops would be closed at that time.
This tiny street between the Bílá Tower and the Daliborka Tower is lined with colourful houses resembling something out of a fairy tale. At about the middle of the Ji?ská Street, there is a turning to the picturesque Golden Lane. In the past, it used to be called the Goldsmiths Lane, perhaps it served as dwelling for the goldsmiths. It was founded between the Romanic and the late Gothic fortifications at the Castle’s Northern side. Little houses were built in the fortification arches of the defence walls built by Benedikt Ried around 1500, and behind them, there are the peaks of the fortification. These houses were built into the castle's fortifications and were occupied until the Second World War. The current appearance of the Golden Lane dates to the year 1955, and after a recent extensive renovation, the houses now contain exhibitions about life in the lane over the past 500 years. Franz Kafka lived and worked in house number 22 from 1916 to 1917. Now, you could find a book shop in his former house.
If you have a bad luck with the weather, it will never spoil your trip if you are in Prague. Just get warm in those unconventional museums.
Without mentioning wax, torture, historical or military museums , as they are interesting but well known and not really weird enough, here are the most mysterious and authentic.
Some museums are quite surprising in the extent of their obsessively odd collections, such as the Museum of Historical Chamber Pots and Toilets or the Coffee Museum. Others like the Czech Police Museum or Hrdli?ka Museum of Man have something for fans of the macabre.
Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague
As king of much of eastern Europe and eventually Holy Roman Emperor during the 16th century, Rudolf II was not known as an especially effective ruler, but he is widely remembered for his interest and patronage of the occult arts. In 1576, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II chose Prague to be his home.
There are two interactive spaces in the main building you look around in and read about Old Prague and its history of alchemy.
The first part of the museum is the history. It offers interesting legends spiced with humo mixed with historical background info. The main floor has displays and replica artifacts of the trade alongside such fantastical scenes as a failed magician being stolen up into the ceiling by the Devil while cackling sorcerers huddle around the glowing runes beneath. After you’re done with the first part, someone will take you to the tower where Edward Kelly lived and performed his esoteric experiments if decked out like an alchemists lab, all aged scrolls and stacked grimoires, complete with a half-completed homunculus, the ultimate alchemical achievement. It’s an old and also interactive space.
In addition to noted alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, Prague was also home to the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the poet Elizabeth Jane Weston, among others. Rudolf arguably spawned the most intense period of occult activity in history.
Prague Ghosts and Legends Museum
This museum is usually less appreciated by visitors, even though it is connected with the Museum of Alchemists and you can even buy a ticket giving access to both of them at lower price. If you aren't looking for anything to scary and fancy getting out of the rain into a dinghy venue then give this place a go. If you are ready to read a lot before entering two floors and winding corridors in semi darkness which will take you through ghosts and legends of Prague . Seemingly each street has one, so you could find the described places in the city in the interactive part of the museum.
Visit the museum only if you are in the mood to read. Most people don't bother reading and just walk through it and are done in 3 minutes, living the museum disappointed. But if you read everything, you will spend a whole day there.
Artist, This old mill has been converted to a cave-like fantasy world by one eccentric artist Reon Argondian. It is part of his imaginary realm called Argondia. Greeted by the alchemist's apprentice, you will be invited to visit a world of wonder, magic, unicorns and mermaids. The potions will have healing powers, the atmospheric music sooth the soul. Wonderful paints and statues showing mystical creatures like dwarves, nymphs and satyrs expects you inside.
Hrdlika Museum of Man
Hrdlika Museum of Man is part of the Faculty of Science of Charles University and deals mainly with human evolution. Even though it has nothing to do with myths and mystery, just in contrary, the museum has some of the spookier items in the city, such as mummies, death masks of famous people and deformed skeletons. And lots of comparative bones and skulls from all over the world.
Karel Zeman Museum
Czech film director Karel Zeman was known for his fantasy movies mixing live action and animation. People can interact with some of the actual props to place themselves in pictures or short videos. You can also learn a bit of how films were made before computer animation. Zeman had a big influence on Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. If you don't know his films, you will want to after seeing the exhibits. DVDs with subtitles are for sale.
Žižkov Tower and Giant Babies
Visit the Žižkov TV Tower is definitely one of the unusual and cool things to do in Prague. Every city has a tv tower, but only in Prague you have giant babies crawling up the tower. It’s so weird and so cool! The tower is 216-meter height, the tallest building in the city and offers a 360º view of Prague. The ultra modern tower was built in the 80’s and was so hated by Czechs that there was a joke in analogy to the Eiffel Tower: the best view of Prague is from Žižkov Tower, because this is the only place where you don’t actually see it.
The Tower has now a restaurant, an observation deck, and even hotel rooms, and locals seem to have accepted it finally. Located in the Žižkov, a very local neighborhood, the tower is definitely one of the unique places to visit in Prague that you can’t miss.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons / Moyan Brenn