Pretty Prague has certain must-see sights including the wonderfully warped dancing house, the Charles Bridge and the charming astronomical clock. The capital of the Czech Republic is also home to major art museums, numerous theaters and gorgeous outdoor spaces along the river and in the hills above the city, all of which make for an amazing holiday to Prague.
However, hidden behind the fairytale-worthy scenery of the city are several surprising and curious spots, all of which are accessible from your Prague hotel. Here are the seven unexpected experiences to seek out in Prague:
Idiom Book Tower: Bibliophiles will adore the round tower of books that awaits in the foyer of Prague’s Municipal Library (Marianske namesti 1/98). Created by artist Matej Kren, the incredible tower made entirely out of hardcover volumes seems to spiral on infinitely thanks to mirrors placed at the top and bottom of the striking installation. A small opening allows visitors to peek inside the bookish sculpture for a taste of what it might be like to lose yourself in a literary dream.
The Thief’s Arm: A visit to the Church of St. James the Greater (Malá Štupartská 6) provides an excellent opportunity to ogle the Baroque grandeur of the interior. However, keep an eye out for the mummified arm hanging behind the entrance. The withered blackened arm hangs from a meat hook and was supposedly strung up as a warning to future would be thieves. The man who lost it was reportedly attempting to steal jewels off a statue of the Virgin Mary. According to legend, the statue suddenly changed position, catching the culprit in the process. The thief became so stuck that his arm had to be amputated.
Franz Kafka Museum: Dedicated to one of Prague’s most famous sons, the Franz Kafka Museum offers a glimpse into the author’s life. Filled with first edition manuscripts and rare photos, the museum’s dark exhibits are a fitting tribute to the mind behind “The Metamorphosis.” However, the crowning glory of the attraction might be the irreverent statues in the front courtyard by artist David Černý.
Check out the bones in the suburb: Trains leave regularly for the Prague suburb of Kutna Hora, which is home to a unique bone church. The Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with the bones and skulls of more than 40,000 people. The macabre décor of stacked skeletons and bone chandeliers even has words spelled out of bone fragments. The ossuary is as captivating as it is frightening.
Hot Chocolate for days: The main drink of choice in Prague is usually beer, but Choco Café (Liliova 4/250) has a sweeter offering: 50 kinds of hot chocolate. Head to the family-run pastry shop for handmade chocolate bars, macarons, layered cake and hot chocolate spiked with interesting flavors like hot pepper.
Tour a Nuclear Bunker: Hoping for the best but planning for the worst led to the creation of nuclear bunkers in the city of Prague during the Cold War. Now one of the decommissioned bunkers buried five-stories underground has been transformed into a museum. Guided tours walk through the Soviet-era structure daily, exploring the rooms of gas masks that were intended for short-term civilian use in the event of nuclear fallout.
Pints in a Monastery: If you are going to partake in the national drink of choice, pick one of the city’s prettiest settings for a pint. Beer has been brewed at Strahovský klášter (Strahov Monastery) since the 14th century. The historic building near the city’s castle has recently reopened as a microbrewery, serving St. Norbert Beer – dark and unfiltered brews that offer a refreshing break from Prague’s Pilsner.
Have you been to Prague? What else would you add to this list?