After breakfast and an orientation briefing, enjoy a tour of the city—a great way to get acclimated and identify the places you may wish to revisit on your own.
During the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Moravia, Prague was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Later it was the vital center of the Habsburgs. While other European capitals were leveled during World War II, Prague survived virtually intact. Among the structures to remain remarkably undamaged was Prague’s great landmark, Prague Castle—the largest ancient castle in the world and still the seat of political power. Built during the ninth century, Prague Castle has evolved over the centuries, blending Romanesque, Gothic, and even Spanish architectural styles. Today, it is a sprawling complex of breathtaking enormity and a symbol of Czech unity.
To begin this morning’s tour, you’ll visit Prague Castle and walk through Prague’s Castle District, encompassing palaces, galleries, churches, gardens, and museums. While in the Castle District, you’ll also walk by the 14th-century, Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Prague. It was here that coronations were held until 1836 and saints and royalty were buried.
Next, you’ll transfer to the Stare Mesto, Prague’s Old Town, with its many wonderful Gothic and Baroque buildings. See the famous 15th-century astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. Every hour, crowds assemble below to watch Christ and the twelve Apostles appear at two little windows above the clock face, followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell.
After lunch on your own, you can return to your hotel—joining your Program Director on Prague’s subway system—or spend time in the early afternoon exploring Prague at your own pace. Perhaps you'll venture to the Charles Bridge to admire the talents of local artists and street musicians and to enjoy the views over the Vltava River. Or return to Wenceslas Square to take in the collections of the National Museum.
Later this afternoon, join us for a charming optional excursion to the Czech countryside. Settled since the middle ages, the region is perhaps best known for its hops fields and small breweries (in the nation with the highest beer consumption per capita in the world). The town of Nosalov, one of the best-preserved historical villages in Bohemia, will transport you back in time with the largest collection of genuine 17th- and 18th-century timber architecture in the Czech Republic. Here, you'll have opportunities to sample the region's beloved Czech beer and Bohemian cuisine, and see an energetic dance show featuring Czech polka.
Dinner is on your own tonight.