Christmas Markets 2022–Prague

(Click here for more photographs.)

Continuing our trip, on 12/6/2022, we took a train from Berlin to Prague.  Uncharacteristically, based on our experience with train travel in Europe, this trip which was supposed to take approximately 4 hours ended up taking almost 9 hours due to multiple delays along the way.  Once we arrived, we obtained an Uber ride to the Charles Central Hotel.

Our first day began with a walking tour of the central city which started at the Powder Tower.  This is one of the original gates of the city and dates from approximately 1475.  At one time it was used to store gun power, thus the name.  Here are some of the other highlights of our time in Prague.

Charles University (Universitas Carolina) is one of the oldest and largest universities in Europe.  It was founded in 1348 by King Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor.  Charles was a very influential figure in central Europe during this time.  Today, the university boasts more than 45,000 students at its facilities located throughout Europe.

Prague Astronomical Clock

Old Town Square is home to many of the beautiful historical buildings in Prague.  At this time of year, it is also the site for the largest Christmas market in the city.  The dominant structure in the square is the Old Town Hall which houses the Prague Orlaj, or Prague Astronomical Clock in its tower.  This technological wonder was installed in 1410, making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest still in operation.  The clock shows the time and date, tracks the movement of the sun and the moon visually showing the time of sunrise and sunset and has a Zodiacal ring.  Once an hour, two panels above the clock open to show a parade of the 12 Apostles.

Charles Bridge (Prague Castle in the background)

The Charles Bridge gets as much attention from visitors as the Prague Astronomical Clock.  The bridge, again named for King Charles IV, got its start when Charles himself laid the first stone in 1357.  This bridge was the only way to cross the Vltava River until 1841.  During its lifetime, the bridge has been damaged repeatedly by flooding from the river approximately every 100 years.  Today the bridge allows only pedestrians and is lined by 30 mostly Baroque statues which were erected between 1683 and 1714.

The Prague Castle is actually a complex of buildings that dominate the view across the Vltava River from the main city.  In modern times it has become the home for Czech Republic government offices, including that of the president.

Vysehrad National Cultural Monument is thought to be the original site of the city of Prague and was home to many of the early Kings.  It is a fortress built in the 10th century that includes the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Vysehrad Cemetery.  It also contains Prague’s oldest Rotunda of St. Martin.  Vysehrad is a little off the beaten path but worth a little effort to get there.

We enjoyed Prague’s beer which is dominated by their Pilsner.  Many of the pubs will offer only a Pilsner and a Kozel dark beer.  We also visited two monasteries that house a micro-brewery.  One of them has been operating for over 900 years.  Each of them had their own unique beers.

Old Town Square Christmas Market

Then, of course there were the Christmas markets.  As mentioned, the main market was in the Old Town Square but we encountered many other smaller markets as well.  The markets were beautiful with lots of hot drinks and delightful foods.  At one, we became addicted to a drink they called “Hot Egg Cognac”, which we figured out was eggnog with cognac.  Home run.

Next, we move on to Budapest.

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