Otherwise known by its abbreviation Czechia, the Czech Republic is one of Central Europe’s most beautiful and fascinating countries. With a rich and extensive history stretching back over a thousand years, the heritage of the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Habsburg Monarchy is evident across the country. Now one of Europe’s most progressive and democratic countries, it has become an increasingly popular tourism destination due to its thriving cities such as Prague and natural beauty.
The most historic district of the Czech Republic’s capital city of Prague is one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in all of Europe. Dating back to the Medieval period, the Old Town is home to many of the city’s most recognisable landmarks including the city’s iconic Astronomic clock and the Old New Synagogue. There is no better locale to visit to absorb the city’s rich cultural and historical identity.
Deemed the largest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle dates back to the 9th Century. The complex has played a central role in Czech administrative and cultural life for over a millennia since its construction. Once home to the Kings of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor, the Castle is now the official residence of the country’s President. In addition, the castle contains a number of important sites such as St. George’s Basilica, itself built in 920 and St. Vitus Cathedral, the country’s most significant church. A major contribution to Gothic architecture, the cathedral contains the tombs of several of the country’s former leaders. Furthermore, the complex contains the Czech Republic’s most important treasures-the Bohemian Crown Jewels. To get a sense of the country’s history, Prague Castle is an absolutely essential destination.
Originally built in 1140, the Strahov Monastery is a bit out of the way from the city centre but is a richly rewarding trip for those who make the journey. A large complex containing both a monastery and a church, it is best known for its magnificent library, which is truly a sight to behold. Divided into two sections, one specialising in religious texts, the other specialising in philosophical texts, the library is one of the most spectacular in the world. A real hidden gem worth discovering.
The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague
One of the city’s more unusual museums (of which there are a few)-the Museum of Alchemy and Magicians of Old Prague is a celebratory and immersive tribute to the country’s long-lasting relationship with the Occult. The museum presents a comprehensive history of Prague-based occultists, most notably Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. For those interested in the macabre or the left-field-this is definitely worth visiting.
One of the most spectacular natural sights in the Czech Republic, the Pravcice Gate is a natural bridge and the largest sandstone arch on the continent. Located in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains in the Bohemian Switzerland region of the country, the Pravcice Gate is a true sight to behold and has become a popular tourism destination due to its uniqueness and the area’s surrounding beauty. Access to the arch itself is off-limits due to safety and erosion issues, but there is a hotel built next to it, providing beautiful views of the area.
One of the country’s more morbid tourism destinations, the Sedlec Ossuary suits visitors with a taste for the off-beat and macabre. A Roman Catholic chapel, the Ossuary contains the skeletal remains of nearly 70,000 people, which adorn the interior of the chapel. Whilst perhaps not for the faint of heart, the Sedlec Ossuary is nonetheless one of the most striking and popular tourism destinations in the country.
One of the most-visited sites in the country, Karlstejn Castle is located on the outskirts in Prague in the eponymous village. It was notably used as a storage facility for the Kingdom of Bohemia’s most valuable possessions such as the crown jewels. The castle is known for its spectacular Gothic design, having been built in the mid-14th Century,
Another morbid tourism site is the Macocha Abyss, the deepest sinkhole on the continent. Surrounded by natural beauty, the Abyss is one of the most striking natural sights in the country, but it is haunted by a disturbing mythology. According to the local canon, a widowed woman lured her step-son to the sinkhole following the birth of her son to cut out the competition. The boy survived and was recovered by local woodsmen, who proceeded to throw her to her death in the crevice as punishment for her actions.
One of the most distinct buildings in the country, Hotel jested was the work of acclaimed Czech architect Karel Hubacek. Completed in 1973, the tower is known for its retro-futuristic design and stunning natural surroundings. Functioning as a television transmission station, the tower also houses a hotel and restaurant. Located atop a mountain, the tower offers breathtaking views of the surrounding region, offering peaks into Germany and Poland as well as the Bohemia region.
The Lidice Children
Yet another sombre destination in the Czech Republic, this is by far the most essential. A major bronze sculpture created by esteemed artist Marie Uchytilova, the Memorial to the Children Victims of the War, Lidice is, as its name suggests, an intensely moving tribute to the young victims of the Holocaust, specifically a group of 82 children from the Czech village who were murdered by Nazi officers in retaliation against the assassination of major figure Reinhard Heydrich.