Prague’s Famous Landmarks
Before visiting Prague, I had formed the impression that it was a destination overrun by tourists, something guidebooks and the web reinforce. Still worth visiting, of course, but not nearly as great as if you had the good fortune to visit 20 years ago, when it was just emerging from communism and not yet a regular stop for cruise ships and tour groups. It is true that in the middle of town, in the middle of the day, there are large groups being led around a circuit of top sites. Many of the storefronts in the centre of the old town were schlocky tourist traps, filled with cheap souvenirs and overpriced novelty food. But the charms of Prague are so plentiful and pleasant, that even when it’s crowded, it’s a delightful place to visit, and ridiculously photogenic.
The three main sights in Prague are the Charles Bridge, the old Town Square with its astrological clock, and the sprawling Prague Castle. We found the crowds easy enough to avoid at Charles Bridge — it is nearly empty at 8:30am, except for a half-dozen Chinese couples shooting pre-wedding photos. In those early hours, the most touristy locales are shut, so the Old Town is entirely charming, and you don’t have to jostle for a view of the clock striking the hour. By the time the castle opens at 10am, there are lots of visitors, but it’s such a large compound with so many different sights that it doesn’t feel overly busy (and certainly not compared to the Louvre). Only the tiny cottages on the Golden Mile felt unpleasantly crowded when we visited them after lunch.