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Day 3: Petřín Hill, Malá Strana, and Prague’s Hidden Gems

·6 mins

Our third day in Prague began with a sense of adventure and a desire to explore one of the city’s greenest landmarks, Petřín Hill. We started our journey by taking the tram from the Smíchovské nádraží tram station. The ride was relatively short, and we soon arrived at our destination, the Újezd station, where the Petřín funicular begins its ascent.

The Újezd Station

As we started our hike up the hill, we passed by the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. This poignant memorial, located at the base of Petřín Hill, is dedicated to those who suffered under the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. The striking statues and inscriptions set a reflective tone for our climb.

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Rather than taking the funicular, which was bustling with crowds, we decided to hike up the hill. This choice, while seemingly adventurous, proved to be quite challenging. By the time we reached the top, specifically Štefánik’s Observatory, we were thoroughly soaked with sweat.

The Štefánik’s Observatory

Nevertheless, our spirits remained high as we eagerly headed towards the Petřín Lookout Tower, also known as the “Small Eiffel Tower” due to its striking resemblance to the iconic Parisian landmark.

The Petřín Lookout Tower

Upon arrival at the tower, we were greeted by an influx of school groups. Opting to avoid the congestion, we decided to visit the nearby Mirror Maze first. Purchasing a combination ticket for the maze and the tower turned out to be a great decision. The maze, though small, provided a delightful experience with its winding pathways and a room filled with mirrors that created amusing optical distortions. It was a brief but enjoyable detour that added a touch of whimsy to our day.

Fortunately, by the time we finished at the maze, the crowd at the tower had diminished. The tower itself, a miniature version of the Eiffel Tower, was an architectural marvel. Initially, I was apprehensive about the narrow winding staircase, concerned about potential oncoming traffic. However, the gatekeeper at the first platform reassured us that there are actually two separate staircases: one for ascending and one for descending. This clever design significantly eased the climb.

The Staircase of the Lookout Tower

As we ascended the tower, we were rewarded with progressively better views of Prague.

The Rest of the Lookout Tower from the first platform

At the top, the panoramic view, though somewhat obstructed by glass, was breathtaking. A few open windows allowed for unobstructed photos, but we had to patiently wait our turn amidst the throng of eager photographers.

The Charles Bridge from the Lookout Tower

The weather, which had been cloudy all morning, finally turned to rain as forecasted. Light rain began to fall just as we descended from the tower. Seeking a quick respite, we treated the kids to some ice cream and enjoyed a relaxing coffee break ourselves.

Our final experience on Petřín Hill was taking the Petřín funicular back down to Malá Strana. This descent offered a unique perspective and a chance to relax after our strenuous climb. The funicular ride was a charming way to end our visit, providing scenic views of the lush greenery and the city below.

The Petřín funicular back down to Malá Strana

Exploring Malá Strana in the Rain #

Despite the rain, we decided to explore Malá Strana by foot. Unprepared for the weather, we attempted to equip ourselves with appropriate clothing from a vintage store. The store owner, showing incredible kindness, even skipped his lunch break and reopened his store for us. Unfortunately, we had no luck finding suitable rain gear, so we moved on to the Shakespear and Sons Bookstore, a cozy refuge for book lovers.

Parts of the John Lennon Wall

On our way, we came across the famous John Lennon Wall. Seeking shelter from the rain under the big trees, we had the opportunity to explore the vibrant street art that covers this wall.

Parts of the John Lennon Wall

It was fascinating to see the different layers of art, each telling its own story. Unfortunately, some beautiful pieces were obscured by trivial graffiti, but the wall’s overall charm and historical significance remained intact.

Shakespear and Sons Bookstore

After exploring the different books and purchasing some unique finds, we used a small gap in the rain to walk towards the Kafka Museum. However, to avoid over-stressing the kids, we decided to skip the museum and instead took shelter in a small gingerbread bakery.

Some samples of Gingerbread

The fragrance was too tempting to resist. We bought some gingerbread men, which warmed us up and filled us with confidence that the rain might wash away the crowds from the Charles Bridge.

Discovering Charles Bridge and John of Nepomuk #

On our way to the Charles Bridge, we stumbled upon the statue of John of Nepomuk. This statue is one of the most famous on the bridge, depicting the saint who was martyred by being thrown into the Vltava River from the bridge. Legend has it that touching the brass plaque on the statue brings good luck and ensures a return to Prague.

Brass plaque on the John of Nepomuk statue

Over time, parts of the plaque have become polished from the touch of countless hands, a testament to its enduring appeal and the reverence of visitors.

Brass plaque on the John of Nepomuk statue

The gingerbread satisfied our appetite only briefly, so we headed to a KFC restaurant, fulfilling one of my son’s deepest wishes. This allowed us to refuel our energy and make use of the washing room and toilet facilities, hitting two birds with one stone.

Exploring Lucerna Palace and Metalshop #

With renewed energy, we headed to the Lucerna Palace, overwhelmed by the sheer size of this historic arcade.

The Lucerna Palace

As I had dusted off my old digital SLR camera, my attention was caught by a shop selling all kinds of photo equipment. This place definitely needs more time to explore, so I’ll keep it on my list for my next trip to Prague.

The Fotoshop

After exploring Lucerna Palace, we headed to the Metalshop Megastore Prague, which turned out to be a maze of its own. We almost lost ourselves in the seemingly endless range of clothes and gear. The shop had everything from band merchandise to unique accessories, catering to all styles of metal enthusiasts, but we had to remind ourselves not to get too carried away, as our day was far from over.

Wrapping Up the Day #

Since we already had a long day behind us, we decided to take the metro back to the hotel and give our legs some rest. As the day turned out to be colder than expected, we also equipped ourselves with appropriate clothing and decided to go to a vegan restaurant for dinner.

The restaurant, Eaternia Vegan, was within walking distance from our hotel. At first glance, it felt more like an industrial canteen, and the music was reminiscent of what we heard at the metal shop. Despite our initial impressions and the fact that we had to order at the counter, the food was very delicious and surprisingly cheap.

The beer from a local brewery tasted awesome. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and called it a day.

Final Reflections #

Exploring Malá Strana in the rain added a unique atmosphere to our adventure. The rain-soaked streets glistened, and the city’s historical charm shone through. Our impromptu journey through vintage shops, bookstores, iconic street art, a delightful gingerbread bakery, the climb up Petřín Hill, and exploration of unique shops made for an unforgettable day filled with unexpected discoveries and touching moments of history and legend.