Interesting facts you never knew about Prague

Prague has had a long interesting past and half the fun of visiting is finding these sights to see it all for yourself. Some history can be slightly morbid but you won’t find anything like it anywhere else in the world. Although Prague is a filled with fun and entertainment for whole family its also good to know a few facts of interest before you go. Here are some I dug up that are more than interesting I’d say some are outright fascinating.

A slam dunk

The Charles Bridge was not just a way to cross over between New Town and Old Town, for centuries it was a form of transformation for dishonest merchants. In fact Prague quickly became a place for honest dealings. Why you ask? Due to the punishment of being held over the edge of the bridge by ropes and even drowned if you were caught over charging or even stealing from customers. Winter time dishonesty would not be in their best interest.

The Old Town Tower on the Charles Bridge on a not so busy time of day

The Old Town Tower on the Charles Bridge on a not so busy time of day

A view of the Charles Bridge from the New Town Tower in Prague

A view of the Charles Bridge from the New Town Tower in Prague

A view of the Charles Bridge from the Vlatava River in Prague

Its a lot further down than it looks from here. No wonder merchants learned to behave while selling their wares in Prague. Photo by Wikimedia

Rise up and touch the stars

The story goes Libuše the daughter of a powerful Czech ruler, later to become queen was known to be a successful prophetess. Taking a short trip was meandering through the brush she found herself on a tall rocky cliff above the Vltava River. While looking over the river these words came to her “There will be a city built here whose glory will touch the stars.”. She immediately made plans to build a castle in that exact location now known as Prague Castle.

Statue of Libuše on a building in Prague, Czech Republic

Statue of Libuše on a building in Prague, Czech Republic

A royal stick house

Money must have been at an all time low when Prague Castle was first built. The first palace was built only of wood and stone.

Give him a hand

Like mentioned before, dishonesty and crime doesn’t pay. One thief found this out the hard way 400 years ago at the Church of St. James in Old Town Square. Apparently a man came into the church to steal jewels surrounding the Madonna from the high altar. Legend has it that Madonna grabbed his arm and held him secure until the Monks came in the next morning. They tried to pry his arm out of her hands without success. The only thing they could do is cut the arm off to set him free. The arm is still there today as a warning to those who might have unscrupulous thoughts about taking a little treasure home with them.

The mummified hand at St. James Church in Prague

The mummified hand at St. James Church in Prague

A Star is born

If you have walked along the Charles Bridge more than likely you have wondered about the story behind some of the statues. The most interesting is St. John of Nepomuk a trusted confidant to the Queen of Bohemia in the mid 1300’s. She divulged all her secrets in detail to him. King Wenceslaus IV insisted that the monk tell him but Nepomuk took his vows seriously and would never tell. The king was so angry that he was taken to be tortured then thrown off the bridge to his death. When he hit the water 5 shinning stars appeared over his head and then he was gone.

St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic

St. John of Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic

Burning for the truth

Before Martin Luther or St. Francis of Assisi for that matter there was Jan Hus of Prague. The reformist who wanted to see equality throughout the church. As an educated conscientious student he was at first highly respected by all. When he started to notice that being part of the church did not necessarily mean you were treated with respect he set out to make changes. When the priests were allowed to have bibles but you were not allowed to look at the writings yourself it was time to fight. He felt everyone and anyone should have access to the book. Not only that the only ones allowed to have communion were those on the pulpit. Another reason to speak out, along with the corrupt dealings within the papal community. That is until he was savagely burned at the stake for being a heretic. After his death the people of Prague believed him to be the savior of the Czech nation or if any. It supposed that he would come riding in heroically on his horse from the Blank Mountains to save the day. And, they are still waiting!

Statue of Jan Hus in Old Town Square Prague

Statue of Jan Hus in Old Town Square Prague

No Sunburn for this wicked one

Mark your calendars for a modern burning at the stake. April 30th each year in different locations throughout Prague and the Czech Republic a witch is set on fire. No not a real live one but one as dastardly! She does not want to let go of the frigid weather and wants to freeze residents and tourists alike daily. The burning of a stick made witch and broom does the trick to bring on better weather. Or so its believed. Whether or not it makes a difference its a total party for all who join in. The favorite is on Petrin Hill if you happen to be in the area it will be a night of fun and revelry!

Truth about liquor

You may have heard that beer is the drink of choice in Prague but in reality there are two fave’s. The second is a plum brandy called Slivovice pronounced Slee-voh-veet-seh.

A popular drink in Prague and the Czech Republic Slivovice a delicious plum brandy Take your pick!

A popular drink in Prague and the Czech Republic Slivovice a delicious plum brandy. Take your pick!

The crosses of remembrance

Old Town Square has plenty of eye catching scenery but for this one you need to look down. Memorialized by 27 mosaic white crosses is the site where 27 martyrs were beheaded by Austrians in 1621. This was a vicious punishment for rebelling against the Habsburg dynasty at the White Mountains. The day became known by the Czechs as the “Day of Blood” one of the atrocious days in Czech history. On another note the Battle of the White Mountains was the start of the 30 years war. It is also believed June 21st every year on the anniversary of the execution, ghosts of the martyred return to the clock tower.

The 27 crosses in Prague for the martyred rebels in the Czech Republic

The 27 crosses in Prague for the martyred rebels in the Czech Republic

Let’s lighten up the mood

In Prague on the summer solstice and very unique thing happens. From the Bridge Tower on the Old Town side of Charles Bridge you can see a remarkable sight. As the sun goes down over the horizon what’s left of the sun shines exactly on the spot where St. Vitus is buried at St. Vitus Cathedral. I want to see that one!

St. Vitus Crypt at St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle

The crypt of St. Vitus

Now you know some very special facts about Prague, some well known, some not so much, some a little gross and others quite fun. Next time you make it to the Czech Republic you might want to check some of these sights out!

17 Comments:

  1. Wow didn’t know all this stuff, how interesting! I reallllly want to visit Prague soon, looks beautiful and fun! And I’d love to try the plum brandy!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      It is a fun city to visit and very romantic. I really hope you can make it there too!

  2. Oh man this makes me miss Prague so much! I studied abroad there back in 2009

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      What a great place to go to school, you must have some amazing memories of your time there.

  3. Chech language is quite similar to polish (even if most polish people can’t understand Chechs while it almost always works the other way round…) Anyway, you just reminded mi about Śliwowica, which is the same pronunciation! (Yes, as always useful knowledge from my side..). Nice information, thank you for sharing 🙂 I’ve never been to Prague !

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Well that’s an interesting fact too, I didn’t know that the Czech language was much like the Polish. Thanks for that addition! I hope you have the chance to see Prague for yourself soon.

  4. Oh my goodness how interesting – especially about the Madonna holding on to the thief’s arm!!! And the fact the arm is still there today! Wow. Great information!

  5. I honestly cannot wait to visit Prague. Great post! Thank you 🙂

    Crystal recently posted… [Photos] Volcanoes and Hot Springs of Rotorua

  6. Interesting facts! I’ll take note of these for when I get to visit the place.

  7. You’re right, I didn’t know any of these facts! Now I really want to try Slivovice 🙂 I’m going to Prague next year so this was great to read. thanks for sharing!

  8. Headed to Prague in the spring so this article definitely gave me some insight to the trivia things I will be seeing. I cannot wait to see the bridge. So gorgeous. Thanks for the details.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Spring is such a good time to visit Prague, its not quite as crowded. Whenever I look back at visiting Prague the Charles Bridge is usually the first thing that comes to mind, it really is beautiful. Can’t wait to hear about your trip there Melody. Especially when you report on all the good restaurants you will be visiting.

  9. So great to learn a little more about a beautiful place.

  10. We have not been to Prague but it is high on the list of my husband. These are such interesting things to know and now I know why he loves to go there!

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