Arts and Culture

Prague – Europe’s quirky, fun-time capital

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The capital of the Czech Republic is known for its magnificent, Gothic architecture, cosmopolitan nature and bohemian style. Prague is a magnet for culture vultures and night owls alike, which is part of its charm – the mingling of cultures adds to an easygoing vibe, with a veritable raft of things to see and do – many of them on the quirky side of the scale.

I'm only here for the beer

The Czech Republic is internationally-renowned as the home of world-class beer, so sampling a drop on a trip to the capital should figure highly on your list of priorities. The Economist states that 161 litres of beer per person are drunk each year in the country – more than usual front-runners Germany, Ireland and Belgium. Popular tipples of choice in Prague include Gambrinus and Pilsner Urquell, from which the town of Plze? gave its name. Any bottle bearing the name Czech brewing masters Kozel is also sure to delight the tastebuds. 

If the dizzying array of fine brews doesn't yet tempt you, then perhaps this will – in Prague, beer is cheaper than bottled water. Large glasses of beer (half a litre) average at just 37.5 Czech Republic korunas (czk) in the city centre – that's roughly AU$2. Venture to the outskirts, and the price falls even lower – you'll be paying no more than 25 czk for a large glass- that's a thrifty AU$1.36.

Old Jewish Cemetery

The Old Jewish Cemetery is a fascinating, if a little macabre, attraction. Founded in the early 15th century, the cemetery feature some 12,000 gravestones, several of them over 500 years old and still decipherable. Those numbers are remarkable enough, but the amount of people interred there is far greater – thought to be around 100,000. A lack of space dictated that bodies would have to be piled atop one another – estimated to reach up to 12 layers deep over the centuries. Extra earth was piled in to cope with demand, and gravestones continually removed and reinstated – they are now so densely packed that it can be physically difficult to walk through the cemetery, but it's an intriguing sight, nonetheless.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle dominates the city's skyline and a visit is well worth a few hours of your time. Over 1,000 years of differing architectural styles shape the castle, with the last major alterations having been made in the early 20th century. The castle is much more than just that, though – it features everything from galleries, a cathedral, a crypt and exceptionally well-kept gardens. As the presidential seat of power in the Czech Republic, the State Rooms have limited access – just two days per year – the first weekend after May 8, so time your trip well. As Prague's most popular tourist attraction, the castle can get a little busy, so try and go as soon as it opens to ensure you aren't caught in the ensuing crowds.

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