For our final day in Prague, we decided to visit all the quirky sites Jan had driven us past the day before and make the most of what Prague had to offer: namely art, heritage sites and beer. And so we rose early (not to drink beer, we aren’t that hardcore) to walk one final time across the Charles Bridge and towards the Old Town.
But first, we made a quick stop at the St Nicholas’s church in Lesser Old Town, near Prague Castle. Why you may ask? Well, besides having stunning baroque marble interiors and boasting an excellent collection of oil paintings upstairs, it is also the site of the organ Mozart used to play when performing in Prague.
We eventually meandered our way towards Charles Bridge but were stopped again by the sight of these statues at the Kafka museum. The two statues twist about, squirting anyone who gets too close for a dirty picture. Supposedly if you send the statues a text message, they will write it out using the, um, ‘tools at hand’.
Given how rare it is to find any personalised items with the name ‘Kirsten’ in stores, I took full advantage of the opportunity.
Eventually we found ourselves at our first destination, the Old Jewish Quarters. Featuring entry into several synagogues, exhibitions on WWII and Hebrew culture and artefacts, as well as entry into the old Jewish cemetery for the price of one ticket, we thought it was a pretty good deal. As a word of warning though, make sure you arrive early, as the old Jewish quarters receive a steady stream of school groups each day. Also remember to bring cash as the ticket kiosk doesn’t accept credit card, and make sure you ask to pay for a photography license at the desk. Although they won’t mention it at the time, there is another barrier you have to pass and they inspect the tickets and will send you back to queue again and pay for a license if it is not listed.
First stop on the ticket is the Pinkas Synagogue; once a fully fledged working synagogue in the 16th century, today it is a memorial to all the victims of the Holocaust from the Jewish Quarter. The names of all the victims cover the walls of the inside, and on the upper floor is a poignant insight into life in the ghetto from the Jewish children’s perspective.
Upon exiting the Pinkas Synagogue, visitors are required to wander through the Old Jewish cemetery to reach the next stops on the ticket. Europe’s oldest cemetery, the Old Jewish Cemetery was used from the 15th century until the 1700s and was the only place in Prague where Jewish citizens were allowed to be buried, hence the prolific number of tombstones stacked against one another.
Inside the various synagogues are exhibitions on Jewish traditions and important calendar events, with detailed presentations and artefacts on display, which overall provided a helpful and informative explanation of any questions you ever had on Hebrew culture. Living near a large Jewish community centre and having a genuine interest in cultures, I had various questions about Jewish culture that I was always afraid to ask in fear of offending someone; luckily these exhibitions answered those for me!
The Jewish Quarter saved the best for last on their trail: The Spanish Synagogue.
Built in the 19th century using Moorish interior design, the Spanish Synagogue is quite possibly one of the most opulent and beautiful religious buildings to exist.
As if the interiors were not grand enough, the Spanish Synagogue also features an exhibition on Hebrew relics that contain a dizzying array of crowns, bookplace markers and various other wealthy artefacts.
After spending the afternoon wandering around the Jewish Quarter, we were feeling a well-earned pint of beer and went off in search of a place, but not before we spied this statue dedicated to Kafka’s writing.
On our way to the pub was this monument to pregnant women. It being my birthday and all, I couldn’t ignore the opportunity to re-enact the momentous event.
Turns out there’s also a space inside the statue called ‘the womb’ where you can squeeze into and relive your….early days? Whatever floats your boat I suppose!
Finally we reached our destination. Now I know what you’re thinking, the Prague Beer Museum looks like the type of joint the bad types in Hollywood films go to lay low and wet their whistle. But it’s not like that at all – it’s not even a museum.
With more than 30 Czech beers on their menu, the Prague Beer Museum is the place to go for any European beer aficionado. While wanting to try as many of the beers as possible, I also didn’t want a grand tour of the Czech Republic’s hospital facilities, and so settled for two tasting boards.
The choices can be overwhelming, but the staff are very knowledgeable and we asked them to choose their favourites for us to try, which resulted in what was quite possibly one of the best decision of our trip.
Turns out after several strong pints of beer your judgement becomes clouded. Well not ours I say! Or at least that was what we thought as we made our way to the last stop in Prague before we caught our flight, The Golden Tiger.
Recommended by several people (cheers Jan and Jeremy!) for beer that was as famous as its bad service, The Golden Tiger is located in the centre of Prague’s Old Town and enjoys a reputation for serving the best beer in the capital. There is only one option at the bar (large glass of beer) and as the surly bartender slams the glasses down in front of you a record of your drinks are kept on a piece of paper with tally marks that you give to pay when finished. A little dated, yes, but with the best beer in Prague at only £1 a pint, you tend to forget small details like those (particularly if you already had a few drinks beforehand).