30 Fast Facts About Prague
Prague is many things: it’s centuries of spires, a quirky urban paradise, a glorious patchwork of art & architecture. Of course, it’s also where EuroSTAR Conference 2019 is taking place!
Nov 11 kicks off 4 unforgettable days of learning, testing, and life-changing experiences. Want to know a little more about our host city? Here are 30 fast facts about Prague – we bet some of these will surprise you. Book your tickets now, and we’ll see you there!
1 An eye for a hand
The Astronomical Clock is struck every hour by moving sculptures of the 12 Apostles parading around from the above window. Legend says clock creator Hanus Carolinum was blinded by the Old Town councilors with a hot poker – so that he could never recreate the clock for another city. Burn.
2 Mind the beard
The Legendary ‘Bearded Man’ or ‘Chin Man’ is one of the oldest public sculptures in Prague, set in a stone embankment beside the famous Charles Bridge. It’s a watermark warning of flooding – if the Vltava River rises to the figure’s beard, it means flooding is imminent and the riverside quarters need to be evacuated.
3 Drunk as a…monk?
Brewing in Prague was first recorded at Prague’s Břevnov Monastery in 993 AD. These crafty monks had a monopoly on beer sales in Prague for many years – the monastery was reopened in 2012 with an onsite restaurant and of course, epic beer.
4 We ale make mistakes
The popular Pilsner beer was invented in Prague in 1842. It was apparently brewed by mistake by a Bavarian brewer trying to make German beer. Groll created the new beer using just barley malt, local Saaz hops, and lager yeast.
5 Dancing on ice
In the heart of the city centre lies central Europe’s largest club, Karlovy Lázně. There’s a dizzying 5 stories of dancefloors, different themes, bars and music for all tastes. The Ice Bar is the star – fully carved from ice, you’re provided with a stylish coat and and hat upon arrival to ensure you stay (relatively) toasty.
6 King of castles
Prague Castle is the largest castle in the world – and it’s an architectural feat. This 30 metre wide medieval marvel and its 70,000 square metres of land attract almost 2 million visitors every year, and it’s landed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.
7 Walk this way
The narrowest street in Prague measured at a mere 50 cm (1.6 ft) – so a traffic light was installed to regulate the flow of people up and down! Blink and you’ll miss it, but if you are near Charles Bridge it’s worth a stroll. Just don’t be tempted to ahem, run a red light.
8 Urban paradise
Just a short tram journey out of the city is a beautiful urban woodland called Divoká Šárka. The area is a pure escape from city life, offering a gorgeous valley that lends itself perfectly for a day out of hiking, swimming, and even golfing.
9 Graffiti lane
There’s an entire graffiti wall devoted to John Lennon in Prague. Initially it was built as the ‘Crying Wall’, and associated with protest lyrics. However, since John Lennon’s death in 1980, it became an outlet for the outpouring of grief and protest against his death
10 River long
The Vltava is the longest river in the Czech Republic and runs right through Prague. This stunning waterway is also where the EuroSTAR Community Dinner takes place, onboard The Grand Bohemia. Its destined to be a night of great food and gorgeous scenery!
11 Written in the stones
Former Czech king Charles IV laid the first stone of the Charles Bridge at precisely 5.31am on July 9, 1357. The king was so passionate about astrology and numerology that he chose this date because of its written form: 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1 (year, day, month, time).
12 Tower of babies
12 Love it or hate it, the Zizkov Tower is one of Prague’s most striking structures, featuring a dozen gigantic babies crawling on it. Creator Czech artist David Cerny’s specialty is combining the thought-provoking with the utterly bizarre – and this is a must see.
13 We heard it on the grapevine…
Although they’re famous for their beer, Prague’s warm summers and south facing hillsides means that it boasts some gorgeous wine. The country’s wineries have been making a name for themselves at international wine competitions, notably for their white wine varietals.
14 Good education
The first university to be established in Central Europe is in Prague. The Charles University is also the largest and oldest university in the Czech Republic – and one of the oldest in the world. Founded in 1348, today it’s renowned as a dynamic and prestigious institution of education.
15 Bridge of beheadings
The stunning 719-year-old Charles Bridge has a ghastly past. After the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed in June of 1621, 12 of their severed heads were suspended in iron baskets from the towers at each end of the Charles Bridge. According to history the heads remained there for over a decade and the bridge is haunted by their spirits to this day…
16 Cathedral city
St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest – and most important church – in the country. It was built over a rather long timespan of 600 years, and houses treasures ranging from the 14th century mosaic of the last judgement, to the baroque silver tomb of St John of Nepomuk.
Prague hosts the Czech Beer Festival (Český pivní festival) every year in May, and it’s the largest beer festival in the Czech Republic. It’s held over 17 days and gives you a chance to discover the best Czech authentic beers and foods – you can try more than 100 different kinds of beers!
18 Lights, camera, Prague
Hollywood films set in Prague include Mission Impossible, xXx, Blade II, Alien vs. Predator, Doom, Chronicles of Narnia, Hellboy, Red Tails, Children of Dune, Dungeons and Dragons and Van Helsing.
19 Something old, something new
Prague is home to Europe’s oldest active synagogue. Built in 1270, the Old New Synagogue (or Altneuschul) is Europe’s oldest working synaguge and one of Prague’s earliest Gothic buildings. It’s located in the historic Jewish quarter of Josefov. and the interior looks pretty much the same as it would have 500 years ago.
20 Fred and Ginger
Prague’s famous Dancing House, with its curved lines and glass tower snuggled against the original building, was inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This icon of modern architecture is meant to symbolise communism blending into democracy.
21 Why the long face?
The clock on the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord, on Jiřího z Poděbrad square, has the largest clock face in Prague – and one of the largest in Central Europe. Built between 1928 and 1932, it was designed by Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik and has a diameter of 7.6 meters.
22 Look to the west
Though Czech Republic is often considered part of Eastern Europe (at least during the Cold War era), Prague is actually located further west than Vienna in Austria, which is considered part of Western Europe.
23 Wonder Woman
Prague-born Madeleine Albright was the first woman to hold the post of U.S. secretary of state, from 1997 to 2001. Among her achievements was the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and progress toward stability in Eastern and Central Europe.
24 Still standing
The oldest surviving building in Prague is the 11th-century Rotunda of St Martin. The door and frescoes date from a renovation made in around 1880.
25 Cubist curiosity
The world’s only cubist lamp post can be found in Prague. Designed by artist Emil Kralicek, this angular concrete curiosity is conveniently just around the corner from Wenceslas Square. It’s worth a visit to this quirky monument.
26 Charles Square
Charles Square is one of the largest squares in the world and was the largest town square of medieval Europe. It was once known as “The Big Marketplace” (Tržiště velké) or “Cattle Market” (Doytčí trh).
27 Humerus hijinks
Inside the baroque Church of St. James the Greater is a withered human arm dangling by a meat hook – this nasty memento is said to be the arm of a jewel thief, caught trying to steal the jewels from the statue of the Virgin Mary. She gripped his arm in a such a vice that it had to be chopped off.
28 The Metamorphosis
Legendary author Franz Kafka was born in Prague on July 3, 1883, near the Old Town Square, and he’s now buried in the New Jewish Cemetery (Žižkov) on June 11, 1924.
29 Independence Day
Prague was the new capital when Czechslovakia declared independence in 1918. This heralded a new era for two nations which had previously been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Czech Republic continues to celebrate their independence day on October 28th every year.
30 And finally…
The locals drink more beer per capita, than any other country in the world! The total beer consumption per head in the Czech Republic equals approximately 150 liters per year. In other words almost half a liter daily. Expect to sip on some quality beer as part of our EuroSTAR at Night events!
We hope to see you in Prague for this year’s 27th conference – book your tickets now and get ready for an unforgettable 4 days!