Both within this virtual space (here, for instance) and in meat-space, I never hesitate to proclaim which city I consider to be the most beautiful among all. Prague, hands down! Such opinions are subjective, I realize, and your mileage may vary relative to other places you’ve seen and things you value in a foreign destination. Me, I’m looking for architectural ambience of historic proportions, for narrow medieval streets opening up to grandiose public spaces, for latter-day architectural styles (such as any Art Nouveau flavors) fitting in rather than sticking out, for breathtaking vistas. No other city in the world gives me as much of all of that as Prague.
This first picture perfectly illustrates that.
It is the view of the Little Quarter side of the famous Charles Bridge, with the Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral seen high on the hill on the right and the dome and the bell tower of the Church of St Nicholas peeking from behind the bridge tower. One of my most favorite views in all the world.
The picture was taken early in the morning, when the sun was already sufficiently up but tourist hordes were not yet out and about. In fact, I consider coming to the Charles Bridge in early morning a quintessential visitor experience in Prague. The bridge is so busy during the day and well into the night that you cannot fully appreciate the beauty of what surrounds you unless you come when most people are still asleep.
I did manage to take a night-time picture of the same area with few people to obstruct the view one night, aided by the light rain that had been falling all day long and drove away all but the most dedicated of guests. Take my word for it: If you want to have the bridge to yourselves, your only choices are bad weather or an early morning. In mid-day, the number of people crossing the bridge in either direction will make any picture taken on the bridge look like the crowd itself is the focus. Nonetheless, the view to Old Town is equally impressive from any viewpoint at any moment in time.
I can linger on the Charles Bridge for hours. Crowds do provide endless amusement from people-watching perspective, and when they get thinner, I can just gaze at the sights of the city.
There are literally dozens of elevated points in the city to cast your eye over rooftops and towards grand structures. One of my favorite spots is the top terrace of the Vrtba Gardens, which allows for this magnificent close-up of the St Nicholas.
Prague is rightfully called the city of a hundred spires. The sky-piercing needles can be admired from the ground, of course, but I much prefer climbing up to some lookout for an eye-level view. For instance, the Old Town bridge tower not only gives an unparalleled perspective of the Little Quarter and the Castle, but also allows a close look at the fetching clocktower above Smetana Museum. The tower of the Old Town Hall, due to its central location, gives you absorbing views of the Old Town’s St Nicholas church (yes, there are two of them in Prague – one on each side of the river), the eye-catching St Giles (with the National Theater in the background), and especially the striking Tyn Church that soars above the central city square. And from the Castle’s elevated lookouts, panoramic views of the city, with Little Quarter’s St Nicholas featuring prominently, are simply majestic.
No matter where I am in Prague, I can’t help to return to the Charles Bridge again and again. Here it is seen from the river, with a bonus cool perspective on the National Theater through one of its arches.
It’s a beautiful city!