The Charles Bridge has mathematical significance

Charles IV laid the first stone of this famous monument at 5.31 am on July 9, 1357. The notoriously superstitious king was into astrology and numerology, and chose this date because of its written form: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1 (year, day, month, time). Add this information to the stunning views and saintly statues, and Charles Bridge is clearly a required item on any list of what to see in Prague.

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The Rolling Stones paid to light the Prague Castle

The iconic rock group played one of Prague’s first international concerts after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, and developed a close friendship with Czech President Václav Havel. Legend has it that, over drinks with the president, the band admired the prominent monument, but said it was a shame you couldn’t see it at night. Havel had bigger problems to worry about (like running a newly democratic country). So, the band paid the $32,000 price tag and had their lighting designer install the system that tourists continue to enjoy today. Thanks, guys!

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Yes, those are babies crawling up the TV Tower

Thank Prague’s resident rebel sculptor, David Černy, for modern art with a sense of humor decorating the city. You can get a close-up of the babies with bar code faces on the castle side of the Vltava River, near the Kampa Modern Art Museum. For more of Černy’s twisted work, try the statues of two men pissing outside the Kafka Museum, or the upside-down horse inside Lucerna Palace near Wenceslas Square.

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The Dancing House was inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

This modern monument among the castles and cobblestones is definitely a sight to see in Prague. The collaboration of Canadian-American Frank Gehry and Croatian-Czech Vlado Milunić in the mid-1990s symbolizes yin and yang: communism blending into democracy. Gehry has said that he initially wanted to name the building after the famous dancing duo. Fans of food with a view might also want to try the (pricey) “Ginger and Fred” restaurant located on the top floor.

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First book about Mozart

Prague was the first European city in which a book about Mozart was published. In 1798, just seven years after the musician’s death, František Xaver Němeček published his full-length biography, Leben des K. K. Kapellmeisters Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, using the German “Gottlieb” instead of the Latin “Amadeus” by which the composer would later be better known. The book’s publisher was Johann Herrl.

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Franz Kafka was Czech

One of the most common misconceptions is that people believe that Franz Kafka was actually German or Austrian, mainly because his most famous works were written in the German language. The truth is, however, that he was Czech raised and born. Kafka wrote in German because German was his mother tongue. He was born and raised in Jewish German speaking family. Kafka wrote in German because this was an official language of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Czech language was considered as second language.

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Footsteps through history

The Church of St. Francis is also where the oldest paving stones in the city can be found. These reddish stones, which were part of the Judith Bridge before it was mostly destroyed by a flood in the mid-14th century, have been placed at the foot of a column at the corner of the church, next to Křižovnická Street. On top of the column is a statue of St. Wenceslas by J.J. Bendl dating from 1676.

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Prague metro

Anděl metro stop used to be called Moskevská, after Moscow. Designed by Soviet architects, the metro station symbolized the partnership between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. A metro stop called “Prague” (Prazhskaya), designed by a consortium of Czechoslovak architects, opened four days later on the Moscow transit network in November 1985. Moskevská was renamed in 1990, but Prazhskaya stop on Moscow’s Gray Line retains its name to this day. Nowadays, Prague Subway (metro) comprises three lines, serving 57 stations, and consists of a transit network 59,3 km (= 35.7 mi.) long. The shortest distance is between Hlavní nádraží (Main Train Station) and Muzeum (425 m = 0,26 mi.), the longest distance is between Nádraží Holešovice (Holešovice Train Station) and Kobylisy (2748 m = 1708 mi.)

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Be there or be square

Charles Square is one of the largest squares in the world and was the largest town square of the medieval Europe. It used to be called “The Big Marketplace” (Velké tržiště) or „Cattle Market” (Doytčí trh). The most famous squares are the Wenceslas Square, formerly known as Horse Market (Koňský trh), and the Old Town Square that features gothic and baroque churches and the Old Town Hall with the famous astronomical clock, among others.

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A star was born

Prague was the first country in the post-communist Eastern bloc in which a restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. The Allegro restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel, headed by chef Andrea Accordi, received its star in 2008.

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X marks the spot

On the summer solstice ever year, around June 20 or 21, something magical happens when you observe the sunset from the gate of the bridge tower on the Old Town end of Charles Bridge. As the sun inches toward the horizon and disappears behind St. Vitus Cathedral on the hill, the last rays appear precisely at the spot where the remains of St. Vitus are buried.

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Moving pictures

Prague and Czech Republic were always popular with film crews. Hollywood movies shot in Prague include The Illusionist, Hellboy, Casino Royale, Brian De Palma’s blockbuster Mission: Impossible, and Amadeus, which won eight Oscars in 1985. Maybe it all started a century ago, when Thomas Edison, credited with playing a crucial role in the development of the cinema in the United States, visited the first movie house in Prague. Located at the corner of Karlova and Liliová streets in Old Town, the Dům U Modré štiky (House at the Blue Pike) was opened by Dismas Šlampor, also known as Viktor Ponrepo, in September 1907. Edison, visiting fellow electrotechnician and inventor Emil Kolben in 1911, reportedly liked what he saw and told the owner of the cinema, “It is small but very good. It’s what a movie house should look like.”

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Home away from home

You can visit the Astronomical Clock not only in Prague but even thousand miles away – in Seoul. The replica was built in a popular district Hongda and works as a restaurant and exhibition centre.

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The legend of Chin Man

Next to Charles Bridge, in the stone embankment under the Square of the Knights of the Cross beside the Church of St. Francis, is a bas-relief of a man’s head called Bradáč, translated as either “Bearded Man” or “Chin Man.” According to legend, it depicts the architect of the Judith Bridge, the predecessor of the Charles Bridge, and if the water of the Vltava River rises to the figure’s beard, it means flooding is imminent, and it is time to start evacuating the riverside quarters. As a matter of fact, right next to the Bradáč, a ruler rises up out of the water to indicate the current and record heights of the water level.

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Room with a view

The Petřín Lookout Tower is accessible via 299 stairs. You can see a spectacular view of the city whilst on the tower and on the lookout right at the top, 51 metres high. If you want to get even higher and get a full 360° view, then the 216m TV Tower Park is the right place for you. You can dine and wine at 66m, one floor above is a luxury suite for you to stay at, and finally at 93m is the observation deck.

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Snail mail

The Prague pneumatic post is the world’s last preserved municipal pneumatic post system. It is an underground system of metal tubes under the wider centre of Prague, totaling about 55 kilometres in length. It crosses the river Vltava three times.

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What a huge clock

With a diameter of 7.6 meters, the clock on the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord — the church on Jiřího z Poděbrad square — not only has the largest clock face in Prague, but also one of the largest in Central Europe. It was designed by Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik and built between 1928 and 1932.

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Bye bye, Pluto

It was in Prague that Pluto was taken down a peg. The general assembly of the International Astronomical Union, which gathered Aug. 14–25, 2006 in the Czech capital, voted to redefine Pluto as a “dwarf planet” rather than a full-fledged planet, thereby decreasing the number of official planets in the solar system from nine to eight.

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