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ATTRACTIONS IN PRAGUE

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Attractions in Prague

For orientation purposes Wenceslas Square , the Old Town Square and Charles Bridge are good points of referral. Bridges link the Lesser Town and the Castle above with the Old and New Towns. Charles Bridge (Karluv most) was started back in the fourteenth century and is Prague's most photographed location. Completely car-free and lined by artists, craftsmen and buskers the tourists flock here.

Prague Castle (Prazski Hrad) is visible from all over Prague and dominates the skyline. The complex is very large and includes what could be described as a small town of its own. One of the main attractions is St Vitus Cathedral (Katedral sv. Vita), the Czech Republic's largest church and an architectural gem. In the castle gardens is the Belvedere, a fine Renaissance building dating to the fifteen thirties.

The twelfth century Old Town Square (Staromestke namesti) can only be described as magnificent! Once the main marketplace, today it is lined with numerous stunning buildings. The memorial to Jan Hus is at its heart. Also on the square is the Old Town Hall (Staromestska radnice) with the Astronomical Clock and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn (Kostel Pann Marie pred Tynem). During winter this square hosts a large Christmas Market and in the summer many restaurants place tables outside.

The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) constituting the Jewish Ghetto until the end of the nineteenth century is the site of the Jewish Museum, Old Jewish Cemetery and Old-New Synagogue. Meanwhile the Municipal House (Obecni dum) an Art Nouveau gem has as its center piece the Smetana Hall home to Prague's Symphony Orchestra. Take the metro to Namesti republicky.

Lastly Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske namesti) is in fact not a square but a long boulevard, heavily commercialized and very Western looking there are many shops here. At the top of square stands the National Museum.

National Theatre Built entirely through voluntary contributions by the Czech people, the neo-Renaissance National Theatre stands as a symbol of nineteenth-century Czech nationalism and was used as a cultural rallying point by the rising Czech independence movement against the Habsburgs. Opening with Smetana's opera Libuse in 1881, the theatre presents opera, ballet and drama mainly written by Czech composers and writers, but also includes other classical works.

Prague State Opera House The lavishly decorated neo-rococo building was opened on 5th January 1888 as the German Theatre, changing its name to the Smetana Theatre after World War II, before finally becoming the Prague State Opera House.

One of three venues for opera in Prague (the others being the National Theatre and the Estates Theatre), most State Opera performances are from the Italian repertoire - Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi and Puccini - with the occasional inclusion of Russian, German and French oeuvres each season. The venue is extremely popular and advance booking is advisable and often essential.

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