14 Fun Facts About Prague
Prague (often called, ‘Praha’) is the capital city of the Czech Republic and is the 14th largest city in the European Union. Situated in the northwest of the country on the Vltava River, it is home to 1.3 million people, while the metro area holds a growing population of over 2.7 million.
With a rich and storied history, it is often characterized by having a flurry of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque-style architecture and incredibly unique feel to it. Prague was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia and was the residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most noticeable Charles IV, who ruled from 1346-1378. Along with its incredible history through the centuries, Prague today is known as a cultural mecca and attracts more than 8.5 million visitors annually.
Prague was also ranked sixth as the best city to visit in 2016 by TripAdvisor and in 2017 was the fourth most visited city after London, Paris, and Rome.
But, what makes Prague so special? Let’s jump into a few fun facts and see what draws people to Prague. But first, get an overview of the city’s landscape and unique architecture first.
If you’ve been to Prague, you know why this city is so special, but for those of you who haven’t been, here are some very interesting fun facts that you should definitely know about Prague before you go.
1) Prague was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992
Prague, capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it's known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints. It officially became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
2) Prague claims to have been founded in 1306
A Jewish Chronicler, David Solomon Ganz, cites that Cyriacus Spangenberg claimed the city was founded in 1306 B.C. by an ancient king, Boyaa. Later in the fifth and fourth century B.C. a Celtic tribe appeared in the area establishing a permanent residence along the Vltava River naming the region, ‘Bohemia’ after stumbling across ruins along the banks.
3) Prague flourished in the 14th-century under King Charles who ruled from 1346-1378
King Charles the Fourth was a Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia and was known for transforming Prague into an imperial capital and at the time, creating the third-largest city in Europe after Rome & Constantinople.
He ordered the building of the New Town adjacent to Old Town square and laid out the design himself and connecting the two towns across the river with the ‘Charles Bridge.’ It is an old folklore tale, but Charles the Fourth personally laid the first foundational stone on July 9, 1357 at 5:31 AM.
The exact time of laying the first foundation stone is known because the palindromic number 135797531 was carved into the Old Town bridge tower after having been chosen by royal astrologists and numerologists.
The numbers can still be seen in the tower today.
4) King Charles also founded Charles University - the oldest university in Central Europe
Thought we were done with King Charles? Nope. Take a gander at Charles University’s website today here.
5) Prague is at the same latitude as Frankfurt, Paris and Vancouver
Many people believe Prague is in Eastern Europe and is far north due to the harsh winters it experiences. Turns out, Prague is on the same latitude line as Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France and Vancouver, Canada and is pretty temperate in terms of year-round climate with an amazing four seasons. It is, however, susceptible to Arctic winds stemming from Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as from parts of Russia.
6) Prague has the largest castle in the world
The Prague Castle takes over an area of 18 acres and according to the Guinness book of World Records, it is the largest castle in the world! It takes over a square footage of over 70,000 meters (750,00 square feet) and is a UNESCO World Heritage sit in and of itself. It has undergone significant repairs and renovations since 1918 and was first constructed in the year 870 AD! The castle also boasts 1.8 million visits per year and the Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside the castle to this day.
7) There is a John Lennon Wall across the from the French Embassy in Prague
After the murder of John Lennon in 1980, a portrait of the rock star was drawn across from the French Embassy near the Charles Bridge. Although it was painted over numberous times after graffiti artists re-painted his image, it’s been dedicated as a memorial to his legacy with quotes, images and lyrics from his songs. It’s located in the ‘Mala Strana’ section. Read more about it here.
8) There is an astronomical clock in Old Town Square - and it’s super creepy
Every hour the astronomical clock strikes, but not in the way you would expect…..a whole procession sets off the Twelve Apostles and the character, Death who wrap up the ceremony of a golden rooster crowing. Creepy? Yes. Absolutely. The clock can also give you accurate information about the day of the year, the zodiac signs and the Medieval perception of the Universe with the Earth in the center of it all.
Speaking about the Astronomical Clock, it’s good to know that Prague is not the only place you can find it. There’s a replica of the building thousands of miles to the East – in Seoul, South Korea. The Korean twin of the Clock serves as a restaurant and expo center.
Want to know more? Watch the video down below.
9) Hitler kept the Jewish Quarter of Prague intact during World War II
This is somewhat of an unverified fact, but legend goes that the reason was that Hitler planned to retire in Prague. He wanted to turn the Josehof Quarter in a museum, dedicated to an extinct race. Creepy? Yes, absolutely. Much of Prague was destroyed in the fighting during World War 2 as German troops crossed through Prague en route to fight the Russians on the Eastern Front.
10) The narrowest street in Prague is barely 50 cm (20 inches) wide
Oddly enough, it has deserved the right to have its own traffic light. The traffic light prevents pedestrians from meeting in the middle and then wondering how to walk past each other, crazy, right?
You can find it close to Charle’s Bridge before you cross the river and yes, we recommend walking through it just to say you did. If you can fit, that is.
Read more about the narrowest street in Prague.
11) The TV Tower of Prague has crawling babies up it
Both loved and hated, the TV Tower of Prague is 70 meters tall and boasts amazing views of the surrounding city, but being built by sculpturist, David Černý, who is often known for contentious sculptures, he adorned the tower with dark, crawling babies up the sides of the tower that can be seen from all around.
Oddly enough, the tower is open to the public and also boasts a one room hotel that offers panoramic views of downtown Prague and the Vltava River.
If you would like, you can book a room at the One Room Hotel here. What do you think of this monstrosity? Read more about it here.
12) Prague is famous for its ‘Dancing House’ building designed by Frank Gehry
The city’s famous Dancing House was inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Designed in collaboration with Canadian-American Frank Gehry and Croatian-Czech Vlado Milunić, the building symbolizes yin and yang.
In this case, the blending of communism and democracy.
Some people love it, others hate it. Either way, it is a testament to the crazy architecture of Prague and can be seen a few kilometers down the river from Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock.
13) Prague denizens drink more beer per capita than any other nation in the world!
Living in the home of Pilsner, people from the Czech Republic consume more than 155 liters each of beer a year! That is more than the Germans and Americans combined!
This is partly due to the fact that the Czech Republic invented the type of beer known as, ‘Pilsner’ and is very proud of their heritage. Prague beer, in general, is known to be some of the best, right alongside the German beers and follows similar purity laws. Beer is so abundant in Prague and throughout the Czech Republic it is often cheaper than a bottle of water!
And you thought you loved beer…..
14) The Prague Bridge is actually very, very haunted…
Legend has it the Charles Bridge is haunted. As in, very haunted. There have been hundreds of reports of people seeing headless ghosts walking the bridge in the middle of the night, statues moving, ghosts jumping into the river and voices being heard over the past several decades.
Many of the legends come from stories and old folklore of executions being carried out in Old Town Square and those victims heads being placed on spike adorning the bridge over the previous few centuries as testimonials not to go against the king and city.
Go walk the Charles Bridge yourself and tell us if you see any ghosts or hear anything spooky!
Did we miss a fun fact? Comment below, and let us know which one is your favorite!