Ancient castles, medieval old towns and a longstanding beer-brewing tradition make this Central European country a true delight to explore.
The Czech Republic features a fascinating mix of opposites: perfectly preserved medieval cities and artistic modern culture. The capital city of Prague displays this blend well. Here literature and architecture of Franz Kafka and Frank Gehry meet 14th-century cathedrals and narrow cobblestone alleys. Visit other small Czech Republic towns with medieval roots that also bear the marks of the country’s creative and hectic 20th century.
Prague’s medieval Old Town is one of Europe’s most popular attractions. With its long 14th-century Charles Bridge, a still functioning Astronomical Clock built in 1410 and the hilltop Prague Castle visible throughout the city, Prague feels as if it hasn’t been touched for centuries. Experience a similar feeling in the old town of Cesky Krumlov. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site, this town has layout and architecture that are nearly unchanged from the Middle Ages.
Standing next to the Czech Republic’s ancient structures are signs of its dynamic 20th century. One of modernist architect Frank Gehry’s most experimental buildings, the curved Dancing House, stands along Prague’s riverbank.
Explore the large city of Brno to see a striking example of 1920s design, the angular Tugendhat Villa. For one of the best examples of old meeting new in the Czech Republic, tour the Konopiště Chateau south of Prague. Archduke Franz Ferdinand once lived here. It later served as the SS headquarters during the German occupation.
In addition to its art and architecture, the Czech Republic has a famous leisure culture. Karlovy Vary is one of Europe’s biggest spa towns, featuring more than a dozen hot springs and many grand hotels. Come here to relax in resorts that have attracted guests including Goethe and Beethoven. Travel to Pilsen, where pilsner beer was invented. Tour the brewery that still manufactures the world’s first pilsner, Pilsner Urquell, and try some brew straight from the barrel.
Reach Prague from most major European cities via train or plane. Stepping into this country of medieval architecture and modernist art is like entering another time.