Day 3. Beyond Prague centre

Our day started with a visit to Prague Planetarium located close to the hotel in Stromovka Park.  It’s dome is one of the largest in the world and measures 23.5 metres in diameter.

Prague Planetarium
Prague Planetarium

It’s free to view the permanent exhibition of optics and to explore the numerous interactive astronomy displays.  For those interested in star gazing, tickets can be obtained to view stars projected onto the ceiling creating an illusion of outer space.

Prague Planetarium exhibition hall
Prague Planetarium exhibition hall

Leaving there we enjoyed a wander through Stromovka Park towards Prague Zoo.  This large park is mainly lawned with a network of marked trails and footpaths some of which lead to a lake close to its centre.

Stromovka Park, Prague
Stromovka Park, Prague

The park started life as a 13th century Royal game reserve and is an oasis of calm to the north west of the city centre.

Troja Palace, Prague
Troja Palace, Prague

On the edge of the park stands Troja Palace, a Baroque masterpiece built for the Counts of Ternbeck between 1679 and 1691.  The palace is now home to the 19th century Czech art collection of the city gallery but was closed for renovation works at the time of our visit.

St. Claire's Vineyard, Prague
St. Claire’s Vineyard, Prague

St. Claire’s Vineyard is located on the sunny slopes above the palace and grapes have thought to have been cultivated here as far back as the thirteenth century.  As well as being a working vineyard it’s also a protected heritage site as a monument to the history of Prague’s viticulture.  Wine produced here ranges from Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio through to Gewürztraminer.  We didn’t have time to call in on this trip but it’s somewhere I’d like to go on a future visit.

Prague Zoo
Prague Zoo

Just beyond the vineyard lies Prague Zoo which is one of the largest in Europe with six miles of walking trails around the zoned areas of this vast park.  Standard admission is 250 czk (£8.50) and included in the Prague Cool Pass.  We spent around two hours exploring the zoo, wandering from the Valley of Elephants through to the Indonesian Jungle and onto the Pavilion of Penguins.

Kangaroo Enclosure, Prague Zoo
Kangaroo Enclosure, Prague Zoo

One of my favourite areas was the kangaroo and wallaby enclosure as visitors are able to go through a pair of closed gates and view the marsupials at close range.  This brought back fond memories of viewing them in their natural habitat of Australia several years ago.

The zoo's scenic chairlift
The zoo’s scenic chairlift

When visiting the zoo I suggest wearing a pair of comfy shoes as the park is built into a hillside so there is quite a lot of walking to be done.  Although we didn’t use it ourselves, there’s a scenic chairlift to take visitors to the upper levels which looked fun (additional fee payable).  Rather than walk back through the park we took Bus 112 which shuttles from the zoo entrance to the nearest metro station.

The Old/New Synagogue, Prague
The Old/New Synagogue, Prague

Back in the city centre we enjoyed some lunch and a glass of beer out on the terrace of one of the many traditional pubs before setting off to explore the Jewish Quarter in Prague’s old town.  Prague Jewish Museum consists of six Jewish monuments clustered close together.  One ticket gives admission to all of them and is included in the Prague Card (Cool Pass) so we planned a route around the district to enable us to visit them all.

Inside the Old/New synagogue
Inside the Old/New synagogue

The Old/New Synagogue – was completed in 1270 and is Europe’s oldest working synagogue, established in one of Prague’s earliest Gothic buildings.  To enter the synagogue one needs to step down as it was constructed before Prague’s old town street level was raised to guard against floods.  Men need to cover their heads on entry but if you don’t have a hat there’s no need to worry as paper ones are handed out in the entrance hall which you can then take home as a souvenir.  The interior contains a pulpit that is surrounded by 15th century wrought iron railings.  The walls of the synagogue are lined with 17th century scriptures which were recovered from beneath a previous restoration.

Pinkas Synagogue, Prague
Pinkas Synagogue

Next we visited the Pinkas Synagogue across the street.  This 16th century synagogue was used for worship until 1941.  After the war it was converted into a memorial hall with its walls inscribed with the names of Czech victims of the Nazis.

The Jewish Cemetery, Prague
The Jewish Cemetery

This synagogue contains the entrance to the Jewish Cemetery which is Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish graveyard.  Contained it the cemetery are around 12,000 tombstones some of which have been transported there from other long since gone cemeteries.

Klaus Synagogue, Prague
The Klaus Synagogue

The one way route around the cemetery leads to a gate between the Klaus Synagogue and the Ceremonial Hall.  These both contain exhibitions on Jewish forms of worship and traditions including circumcision, bar mitzvah’s and marriage.

Interior of the Maisel Synagogue, Prague
Interior of the Maisel Synagogue

It was then a short walk across to the Maisel Synagogue which houses an exhibition on the history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th to the 18th centuries.

Spanish Synagogue, Prague
The interior of the Spanish Synagogue

To round off our tour of the Jewish museums we visited the spectacular Spanish Synagogue which takes its name because of its Moorish interior.  It’s galleries depict the story of Jews in the Czech Republic from emancipation to the present day.

The Petrin Hill, Funicular, Prague
The Petrin Hill, Funicular, Prague

As it was warm and Prague ice creams delicious and reasonably priced, we treated ourselves to one each before visiting Petrin Hill, our final location of the day.  The hill towers 130m above the Vltava river with a structure reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower at its peak.

Petrin Hill funicular station, Prague
Petrin Hill funicular station, Prague

The Petrin Funicular, single ticket 60czk (£2.06) provides a regular service to the summit from near the Ujezd tram stop.  As it’s part of Prague’s public transport system, riding the funicular is included with all travel cards and day tickets.

Petrin Lookout Tower, Prague
Petrin Lookout Tower

Petrin Lookout Tower stands 63.5m high on the hill top at 324m above sea level.  It was inspired by a visit to Paris in 1889 when the World Exposition was taking place.  Tickets cost 150 czk (£5.18) and are included in the Prague Cool Pass.

Views from the top of the Petrin Hill Lookout Tower, Prague
Views from the top of the Petrin Hill Lookout Tower, Prague

We’d already walked a substantial distance but even though our legs were starting to get a bit tired there was no way we were going to miss seeing the views from its two observation decks.  We took the stairs up the spiral stairway and were rewarded at the top with some fine city views.  For people with mobility problems there is a small access lift to the top (60czk £2.06).

Petrin Hill Rose Garden, Prague
Petrin Hill Rose Garden

In addition to its tower, Petrin Hill is also home to the Seminary and Rose Gardens, St. Lawrence Cathedral, a mirror maze, observatory, cafe and restaurant.

Stefanik Observatory, Prague
Stefanik Observatory

Following on from our visit to the Prague Planetarium at the start of the day, we decided to visit the Stefanik Observatory 150czk (£5.18).  Since 1979, the Stefanik observatory has been part of the Observatory and Planetarium in Prague and it’s galleries feature interesting aspects of astrophysics with numerous hands on activities especially designed for children.

Stefanik Observatory Telescope, Prague
Stefanik Observatory Telescope

Up in the main dome, it was extremely interesting to look through the observatory’s telescope.  With guidance from a member of staff, we were able to observe the sun safely through a filter so that it wasn’t harmful to our eyes.  After our visit we enjoyed glasses of beer outdoors on their cafe terrace which was lovely and peaceful as it overlooked the rose garden.

Views from Petrin Hill, Prague
Far reaching views from Petrin Hill

Rather than taking the funicular back down the hill we followed a steep path which led us to a tram stop back into the city centre.  Over dinner at a restaurant near to our hotel we reflected on what an enjoyable and fun filled day we had experienced.

 

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36 thoughts on “Day 3. Beyond Prague centre

  1. I didn’t see everything you list in your article, I’ll have to use it as inspiration for a future visit. I remember the Jewish cemetery, all those tombstones tilted by time make a strong impression. For the kangaroos, it also reminds me of my stays in Australia where in animal parks there are enclosures where visitors can mix with kangaroos, both are happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another gorgeous day in Prague! I’ve only passed by the synogogues, but I would’ve loved to have gone inside; they look stunning! Petřín Hill is one of my favorite spots in all of the city, and I always make the trek there whenever I visit. The kangaroos at the zoo were a surprising, but adorable touch. Can’t wait to see more of your adventures in the Czech capital!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful tour of this corner of the country. The architecture of the Troja is stunning. And the zoo looks like a lot of fun, especially being large enough to need a car lift to the other levels. I really love seeing the different synagogues. The cemetery is such a tender place to honor those who suffered so much at the hands of evil.

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  4. The park looks like a great place for a stroll – love your photo of the lake. Oh, did I read about Pinot Noir being produced at the vineyard – one of my favourite wines … yes, you will have to go back there Marion to give a thorough report 😉! Lovely to see the zoo, different synagogues and what an amazing view from the Petrin Lookout Tower! You had such a jam-packed day, I can understand that you must have been quite tired at the end of the day.

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  5. I loved everything about this post! First of all, we love zoos, so the Prague Zoo would definitely be a top stop for us, then the observation tower and observatory. Your photos from the top of the tower are absolutely breathtaking. Secondly, we would have to visit the beautiful and historic synagogues. I’m telling Mike right now that we need to visit Prague! Thank you for sharing this wonderful city with us.

    Liked by 2 people

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