Home to some of the most beautiful Baroque and Cubist architecture to be found in Europe as well as some of the finest pale beers, the Czech Republic has seen a boom in tourism since the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of the late 80s saw the country cut its ties with Communist Russia.
Recently, it’s been struggling against Prague’s blossoming reputation as a venue for stag parties – cheap, sleazy nightlife, coupled with frequent instances of petty crime and raising prices, have put families and culture-tourists off from going there.
But even though travel insurance claims from tourists who have been pick-pocketed by bogus policemen and streetwalkers are common, it’s easy to stay safe, and even though some prices have risen - if you are willing to dig a little deeper you will still find a great rate of travel money exchange, cheap accommodation and a cultural experience in the Czech Republic that is truly unique!
Here are four of the top cultural places to visit in the Czech Republic:
1. Moravia: for Vineyards
This large region in the East of the Czech Republic is home to 94% of the country’s thriving wine industry.
It’s said that the tradition of grape-growing stems from 200 AD, when the fertile soil and limestone reminded Roman soldiers of home and inspired them to try planting their native fruit.
The lush and relatively flat countryside makes it a great place to cycle – bike through thousands of hectares of vineyards, stopping at cellars and co-operative wine shops to try local produce.
Best time to visit is in September, when competitions and festivals are held in the region’s larger towns.
2. The Sedlec Ossuary: for a spooky experience
Just over an hour from Prague, this small Roman Catholic Church houses the bones of between 40,000 and 70,000 people – artfully arranged to create grisly, intricate décor.
See chandeliers, altar decorations, family crests: all rendered in incredible detail out of every human part, from spines and skulls to the smallest finger bones.
It’s creepy, but beautiful at the same time..!
3. Prague Castle: for ancient and recent history
See the hourly changing of the guard or wander across the Charles Bridge at night to see this ancient building gorgeously lit up.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prague Castle is the largest in the world and has been renovated and updated over the years – resulting in an eclectic but beautiful mix of Gothic, Renaissance and 20th century styles. Large portions of the grounds are open to the public, with a network of museums and galleries.
Historically the home of Bohemian kings, currently it houses Lithuania’s heads of state and the country’s crown jewels.
Reinhard Heydrich occupied the palace during World War II – it’s said he succumbed to the temptation of trying on the Bohemian crown, which, according to legend, unleashes a curse on unworthy wearers. He died within a year of coming to Prague.
4. Olomouc: for the Pivní Festival
Visit this quaintly cobbled city in May to experience the country’s largest beer festival. A hundred breweries converge for ‘Beerfest’, along with bands, paraphernalia collectors and thirsty tourists.
Don’t forget to take some time out from drinking to take in the large cathedrals and beautiful buildings that are spotted around the 1000-year-old streets.
What are your favorite places to visit in Czech Republic?