Prague, Part 5 – Walking around a beautifully lit City at night

This post is a continuation of a series documenting our time in a small part of Central Europe. We were now in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic.

We had been in Prague for 2 days and had seen most of the touristy sights ( Prague Castle, Charles Bridge) and some low key but beautiful sights ( Vrtba gardens, Strahov Monastery Library and Vyserhad). We had skipped walking around city on our first night in Prague because of the temporary structures erected for the Prague Marathon spoiling the view.

On our 2nd night in Prague, we decided to see if the stories of Prague being beautifully lit at night were true or an exaggeration. We have been to some beautifully lit Italian towns and I was pessimistic about this being any better. Munich and Salzburg at night had been underwhelming and though Cesky Krumlov had broken that trend and I was hoping that Prague would be even better.

As we were travelling in early May, the days were long and it became completely dark only after 8 pm. So we decided to have our dinner before starting our night time sojourn across Prague.

The Malostranska Beseda restaurant on the Malostranské square just after Charles Bridge had impressed us the previous evening, when we had eaten a delicious chocolate cake here.  It was also very conveniently located right next to the tram stop for the tram up to the castle. So we got there negotiating the crowds on old town square and Charles Bridge and thankfully got a table right away.

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At our bar side table in the Malostranska Beseda

We ordered the usual Goulash with dumplings for me (I will readily go back to Prague just for the Goulash!) and lentils with poached eggs for the better half. There was the obligatory Pilsner Urquell Stein of beer for me and apple juice for the better half. The food was great and you just can’t get bad beer in Prague! So it was a great start to the night.

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With our drinks and the complimentary bread basket
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Goulash with Dumplings – My favourite !
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Lentils with poached eggs and cream sauce

With our tummies satiated took the tram 22 up to the castle to see it all lit up. With our 3 day travel pass we had become experts at using the trams and metro where possible to give our legs some respite. As we waited for our tram we took a photo of the square which we had visited most frequently on our short visit to Prague.

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The Malostranské Námëstí with its tram stop at night

Soon our tram arrived and we were on our way up the hill to the castle. We got off at the Prazsky Hrad stop and entered the castle after the mandatory security check. Unlike in the morning there was no queue at the security check post and soon the lit up  St Vitus Cathedral came into sight.

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The lit up St Vitus from the bridge just after the security check

My spirits were already up. This structure was lit like the Cathedrals in Italy and all the disappointment from Salzburg was soon forgotten. We reached inside the small gateway in front of St Vitus where few South East Asians were busy photographing the facade. We joined in and made it an exclusively Asian group taking photos of a Gothic Cathedral in Central Europe!

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St Vitus Facade at night

The space between the gate and the facade is extremely narrow and even with my ultra wide lens I couldn’t get it all into a frame. So after trying out a few compositions this one looked most pleasing to me.

Cursing the planners of the castle for the lack of space in front of the cathedral we moved on to the spacious third courtyard. This courtyard has a huge granite Obelisk and a great bronze statue of St George slaying a Dragon.  I had hardly taken any photos in the morning due to the crowds at the base of both these structures. No such problems now!

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The Obelisk in the background and the statue of St George fighting a dragon

The courtyard here was big enough and the ultra wide had a great time getting all the magnificence in one frame.

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The side facade of St Vitus Cathedral
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The beautiful side facade of St Vitus

I had even ignored the golden gate on the side of the Cathedral with its colourful and bright mural during the day. I was praying and hoping that it should be well lit now! The Lord must have been pleased at me that day and my prayers were answered and I got some decent photos.

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The “Judgement day” mural on the golden gate of St Vitus

The courtyard filled with hundreds of tourists by day had just a handful of Asians at night. What a difference a few hours can make!

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The third courtyard of the Prague Castle at night

We then moved on to the back of the Cathedral which had scaffolding and  bright blue sheets covering the part being restored. That made it look like some surreal alien spaceship ready for take off.

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St Vitus being restored at the back end

Just opposite the alien spaceship was the very plain looking front of the Basilica of St George which we had visited earlier in the day. We stopped & took some photos of the front facade lit up at night.

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The Basilica of St George

That was as far as we could go as the guard at the road beyond the Basilica told us that we couldn’t go any further. So we turned back and went out the same way that we had come in taking a few photos of the statue of St John of Nepomuk ( This guy gives Charles and Wenceslas some serious competition in the number of statues!) at the base of the castle along the way.

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St John of Nepomuk being cradled by angels

Before we left the Castle complex we had to take our standard night time SLR selfie outside a lit up cathedral in an empty square. We had done it in Siena and Orvieto and we had all the prerequisites here to add to that great collection. This time I used the Wifi adapter instead of a timed release with decent results.

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An SLR selfie at the St Vitus Cathedral , Prague

We were the last people out of the castle complex and the guard outside appeared relieved as we left and he locked the castle gates for the night. We waited for the tram to take us back and soon we were on our way back down the hill.

As we headed to Charles bridge we noticed a crowd at a gelato shop and since we had not had any dessert that night we stepped in to see what the fuss was about.  It turned out they sold Gelato shaped like a rose! So we bought one fancy shaped gelato and enjoyed it on our walk on to Charles Bridge.

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Rose Shaped Gelato
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Enjoying our gelato with the Charles bridge tower in the background

Most places we had been to the streets started emptying out by 10 pm, not Prague! Even at 10 pm Charles Bridge was filled with people. But it was too atmospheric to let the crowds get in the way for some photos. So taking our time and waiting for a relatively crowd free window to take photos we crossed the short bridge in half an hour!

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The Castle end tower of the Charles Bridge
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Waiting for a crowd free window to take photos of the full bridge

As expected the most crowd was at the old town end and there was no way that I could get a crowd free interval here. So we took a few photos and moved on.

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The crowded old town end of the Karluv Most
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The old town end tower of the Charles Bridge

As we moved on beyond the bridge the Knights of the Cross square was also well lit up and deserved a photo or two.

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The Knights of the Cross Square just before Charles Bridge

We then negotiated the crowded Karlova street and reached old town square. This centre piece square of Prague was superbly lit and even though it wasn’t empty like most squares in Italy would be at this hour, it was a treat to photograph!

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Reaching the Old town Square in the city that never sleeps!

Every where you turn there was a photo waiting to be clicked. The Tyn Church, The Hus Memorial, the half covered up town hall, all were beautifully lit up. I must have ended up taking almost 50 photos in 10 minutes!

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The beautiful Old town square at 11pm
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The Hus Memorial with beautifully lit buildings as a back drop
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The iconic twin towers of the Tyn Church
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At a relatively empty corner of the Old town Square

It had been a great end to cap off a great post dinner walk. We had stayed out for far longer than we had anticipated. We walked back to our hotel extremely tired but extremely happy with the days sightseeing.

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Tired but happy in Prague!

We must have walked more than 10 kilometres on that day and we returned to our hotel and slept off in no time.  We would be travelling to Karlstejn the next day to see the fairy tale castle there. But that is story for another post, some other time, some other day.

Till then.

Ahoj!

 

 

 

 

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