In order to digest enough of Prague's wonders, do what visiting kings and potentates do on a 1-day visit: Walk the Royal Route (or at least part of it). From the top of the castle hill in Hradcany, tour Prague Castle in the morning. After lunch, begin your slow descent through the odd hill-bound architecture of Lesser Town (Malá Strana).

Then stroll across Charles Bridge, on the way to the winding alleys of Old Town (Staré Mesto). You can happily get lost finding Old Town Square (Staromestské nám.), stopping at private galleries and cafes along the way. From Old Town Square, take Celetná street to Ovocný trh, and you'll reach Mozart's Prague venue, the Estates' Theater. Dinner and your evening entertainment are all probably within a 10-minute walk from anywhere in this area. Start: tram no. 22 or take a taxi ride up the castle hill.

1. Prague Castle


Since the 9th century, the castle has been the seat of the central state and church. It witnessed the first central unifying power, the Premyslids, and the reigns of the Luxembourg and the Jagiellos, as well as the Habsburg dynasty. The castle is now the official seat of the Czech president.

2. St. Vitus Cathedral

King John of Luxembourg and his even more famous son Charles IV laid the foundation stone in 1344 in the place of the original Romanesque rotunda. The first Gothic building period was led by Matyas of Arras, and then Peter Parlér and his sons continued through 1399. The construction of this impressive architectural piece was not completed until 1929.


3. The Royal Palace

The oldest part of the palace dates from 1135. Famous Czech kings Premyslid Otakar II, Charles IV, Wenceslas IV, and Vladislav Jagiello then initiated additional reconstructions. The central part, the late Gothic Vladislav Hall, with its ribbed-star-vaulting ceiling, was the largest secular hall in medieval Prague. Still today, every 5 years, the presidential elections take place here.

4. St. George's Basilica

This is the oldest preserved church building of the castle. The originally Romanesque structure gained its baroque facade in the 17th century. Now, as a part of the National Gallery, this venue houses a permanent exhibition of 19th-century Czech art.


5. Golden Lane

This bizarre conglomeration of mini townhouses within the castle complex was once briefly home to writer Franz Kafka (no. 22).

6. Lobkowicz Palace

This splendid palace, owned by the noble Lobkowicz family, houses the "Princely Collections," the family's valuable holdings of European art, original music scores, rare books, and other fascinating objects.

Lobkowicz Palace Café & Restaurant -- Even if you don't decide to tour the palace, be sure to take your midday meal or a coffee here, easily the best restaurant in the entire castle complex.


Start making your way back through the castle's courtyards to Hradcanské námestí, from which you'll be able to see Prague in its panoramic beauty (if it's not foggy that day). Then as you walk down Nerudova, the road leading to the Lesser Town, you'll find small shops and galleries tucked into every narrow nook.

7. Church of St. Nicholas

The dome of the Church of St. Nicholas, with its gilded baroque interior, dominates the view from Lesser Town Square (Malostranské nám.). Organ concerts are held here throughout the year. Note that the interior is not heated in winter.


8. Charles Bridge

Early on, this pedestrian path became one of the centers of town life. Now it's a promenade best known for its open-air gallery of sculptures, and, of course, the magic views of Prague Castle and Lesser Town.

9. Old Town Square

The very center of the Old Town life, this square is constantly crowded in high season, but definitely one of the "must-dos."

10. Old Town Hall & Astronomical Clock

In Old Town Square, you can watch a performance of the astronomical clock at the top of each hour. If you aren't tired by now, climb to the top of the Old Town Hall tower for a panoramic view (or take the elevator).


11. Estates' Theater

If you still have the time and you like opera, try to catch a performance here in the theater that first staged Mozart's Don Giovanni in October 1787. Mozart himself was on hand that night to conduct the world premiere of his masterpiece. Don Giovanni is still occasionally performed here (usually during the summer for tourists), but there's almost always something interesting on hand. Buy tickets at the National Theater box office or at Ticketpro outlets.

Kogo -- Whether you make it here before the theater or for a late-night, after-opera dinner, you'll not be disappointed by the well-prepared and well-presented Italian food. Havelská 27. tel. 224-214-543.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.