Morning at the Bell Tower in Prague

Prague is one of those cities that seduces one’s soul. It is a magically beautiful city that is easy to fall in love with its architectural charm, its open air squares, cobblestoned streets and endless array of terra-cotta rooftops, medieval churches and spires. Voted as one of the top touristic destinations in Europe, Prague has obviously been discovered and the best way to see her unspoiled beauty is to get up and going early.

On our last morning in Prague, we set off right after breakfast to Old Town Square to climb the Bell Tower knowing that if we were lucky, we would beat the crowds. Our timing was perfect and there is nothing quite like getting a bird’s-eye view of the city as it wakes up and comes to life.

Old Town Hall (Staroměstská radnice) was built during the reign of King John of Luxembourg in 1338 as the seat of the Old Town administration. The oldest part of the complex consists of a lovely Gothic tower with a bay chapel and a unique astronomical clock – known as the Orloj –which is the oldest and most elaborate functioning astronomical clock in the world.  Although watching the hourly presentation of the “12 Apostles” is a huge tourist attraction, the real pleasure of the Old Town Hall is its remarkable views of the city from the Bell Tower.

As you climb up a series of winding steps, you are delighted with a sense of awe and wonder at the views below. Here are a few of my favorites.

Bell Tower Prague

Bell Tower Prague

Old Town, Prague

A Walking Tour of Prague: Old Town Square

Prague is a delightful city to explore on foot with its extraordinary architecture, charming cobblestone lanes and enchanting churches, squares and buildings. Prague’s history is long and deep which makes this spectacular city even more fascinating. Founded near the end of the 9th century at the crossroads of Europe, “Praha” or the “doorstep” became the seat of the Kings of Bohemia with a thriving marketplace alongside the River Vltava in what today is known as Old Town Square. Merchants and craftsman from all over the world would meet here to trade and by 1234 Prague’s Staré Město “Old Town” was founded.

Old Town revolves around Old Town Square which is laced in history and architectural genius and remains the historic heart and the soul of the city. Many believe it is the grandest, most magnificent square in all of Eastern Europe with its intricate pathways of cobblestone streets reminiscent of medieval times and its brightly-hued pastel buildings each with a history of its own right.

Every way you turn, there is an architectural treasure as one building seems to outshine the next. The styles of architecture range from Romanesque (characterized by semi-circular arches that was prevalent in medieval Europe) to Gothic (with its characteristic  pointed arches, ribbed vaults and the flying buttress that occurred after the Romanesque period in the 12th century) and Baroque (began in the late 16th century and includes dramatic use of light, oval shapes, grandeur and large ceiling frescoes).

What makes Old Town and much of Prague itself so utterly spectacular is that much of its treasured architecture from medieval times remains untouched by war or natural causes. There were floods that inundated the city in Medieval times that caused immense destruction but architects simply built over and restored the buildings in a new style of architecture. Many buildings of Gothic style were restored with Baroque facades.

As you enter Old Town, the first thing you see and pass through it the Powder Gate. Built in the 11th century, the Powder Gate was one of 13 entrances into Prague’s Old Town and still stands tall today. It was reconstructed in 1475 during the reign of King Vladislav II in 1475.

Powder Gate, Prague

The Powder Gate

Old City Gate Prague

Old Town, Prague

Walking through the gates, feels like stepping back in time. Despite the masses of people and tourists, if you look up and peer at the stunning, elaborate buildings you are bound to be awestruck by their pure magnificence. Several walking tours and guide books will give you detailed history on each building because of course every single one has a story. Also pay close attention to the detail of the doors, windows and the unique signs decorating each building. You could literally spend hours just walking around Old Town Square.

Old Town Square, Prague

Old Town Square

Adventure Travel Czech Republic TRAVEL TRAVEL BY REGION Walking tours
Bell Tower Old Town Prague

A bird’s eye view of Prague from the Bell Tower in Old Town

Prague does not disappoint even in the rain. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world filled with history, culture, and architecture that will make you swoon. Left basically untouched by the destruction of WWII and kept tightly sealed behind the iron walls of communism for 40 years, Prague has come to life over the past decade as tourists from all over the world come to relish her fairytale beauty.

I too was swept away and seduced by the delights of Prague, and I couldn’t stop looking up at the immaculate detail on each and every building. Sometimes however it pays to look down. One morning before the crowds stormed into Old Town Square I climbed the Bell Tower for an aerial view of the city. Despite the poor weather conditions – it was rainy and gray – I was able to capture these shots of the serpentine curves of the city and red rooftops below.

Bell Tower Old Town Prague