Ah! Czech Republic, the heart of Europe, a land heavy with History and culture. Why, of all the countries I could have spoken about, did I choose to speak about Czech Republic, are you wondering? My my, aren’t you curious! As it happens, I have spent a year of my life there during an Erasmus Exchange. When one spends so much time in a country, one gets attached to it! And in my opinion, Czech Republic is really underestimated; of course, Prague is a very well-known city, with lots of visitors, but there is so much more to see, and to do!
My mission, which I have already accepted, is to make you want to go to Czech Republic. And this is where my love for lists comes in handy. No tak, jdeme !
7 good reasons to go to Czech Republic
1) Czech Republic in the heart of Europe
Come on, Marie, if you start repeating what you say in your introduction, there is no way we’re getting out of this!
Czech Republic is a relatively small country, and yet, it’s History has been going on for more than a millenium. Over the centuries, it has been the witness of some of the most important events, such as the defenestrations of Prague, Prague’s Spring or the Velvet Revolution. It’s also a very well-situated country: located in the heart of Europe, Czech Republic shares borders with Germany, Poland, Austria and Slovakia.
If your goal is to discover Europe, then let Czech Republic be your starting point: Transport is highly develop, and Prague is only a few hours away from some of the largest European cities. Trains and buses are very cheap and allow you to travel in total comfort!
Whether you are a true lover of History, Architecture, ghost stories or sports, you Que vous soyez férus d’Histoire, d’architecture, d’histoire de fantôme ou de sport, there is something for you. Indeed, there are more than 2,000 castles in Czech Republic. Yes, you’ve read that right! By the way, the largest castle in the world, i.e Prague’s castle, is in Czech Republic, and is also the official residence of the President of Czech Republic. It is also the home country of some of the oldest castles, such as Karlštejn Hrad.
My personal favourite: Hluboká nad Vltavou. Situated in South Bohemia, Hluboká castle is a neo gothic castle from the 13th Century and is absolutely gorgeous. Writer’s note: if you are not a huge hunting fan, it might not be that worth it to visit the inside of the castle. You can simply enjoy the gardens and outside the castle, and save a few crowns!
In Czech Republic, beer is cheaper than water. No, it’s not just a legend! And it is also very good. Beer is part of the Czech culture. You want to visit a Czech brewery? Go to Ceske Budejovice and visit Budweiser Budvar (Budějovický Budvar for those in the know). Would you rather have a great time with your friends around a pint? Meet up in Prague to visit the city on a beer-bike or for a relaxing break in a beer bath.
Fun fact: on Ascension day, also known in Czech Republic as zelený čtvrtek (green Thursday), you can find some zelene pivo : green beer! Why? Because of Christian tradition, according to the different stories that were told to me during my stay there. The story that was the most told: on that day, penitents were welcome again at Mass, and were wearing blades of grass on them to signify their joy. So why not show some gratitude and have a taste of the zelene pivo for zelený čtvrtek ?
I have already mentioned prices in Czech Republic twice in this list, and I will probably do it again! Whether it is to visit a touristic place, to eat, etc. prices in Czech Republic are really affordable. Of course, if you stay long enough in a country and imported products start making eyes at you (yes, I am looking at you salted butter) prices start going up pretty quickly! But if you decide to eat and drink local, your wallet will thank you. You will even be able to dine out several times a week without trouble!
And this is the moment where you tell me, but Marie, I don’t know anyone in Czech Republic, who will I share those tips with? Oh, but it’s all so very simple, my dear friend: to meet international friends, there is Leeve, an app that allows you meet new people to learn more about languages and culture in the city where you are! Why not learn Czech with a Czech native around a Czech beer? Thanks Marie!
Prosím, a nazdraví !
5) Culinary delights
Czech cuisine has been quite influenced by its neighbours, but that does not mean it is not delicious, if you like potatoes, pork and cabbages. During my stay, I had time to discover what Czech Republic had to offer, and thankfully, I had Czech friends to help me out! If you go to Prague, don’t miss the trdelník, a sugary pastry that you find in the country, but mainly in the capital. If you are looking for a meal, try the Bramborak, potatoes and garlic patties, generally fried. A real delicacy.
Once again, meals in Czech Republic are cheap, so don’t hesitate to go to a local restaurant and order a traditional dish. You will be ready to explore the rest of the city after that!
6) UNESCO's World Heritage
Well yes, when I say “many castles”, there has to be at least one or two castles inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage! And what a heritage: Prague’s castle, the historic centre of Cesky Krumlov… If you wish to go there, please check that the place you wish to visit is open: some sites are closed during the winter, and some may be closed for maintenance work.
My personal favourite: Kutna Hora. A classic, will say the connoisseurs ! And what a beauty do we have here. Kutna Hora is a town not far from Prague where you will find, among others, Cathedral of St. Barbara and Sedlec Ossuary. A bit peculiar, but if you like art and stills, you will be served!
You can’t help but talk about art, can you? You know me so well! Czech Republic is the birth country of some very well-known artists, including Kafka and Mucha. If you are a fan of Kafka and his writings, you can visit the Kafka museum in Prague; you will see numerous first editions, letters, journals and drawings from Kafka’s hand.
But if you are more into Mucha and is work like myself, you will not be disappointed: Art Nouveau is very present in Prague. How many times have I walked in the streets of Prague thinking “Dear Lord, this is a piece by Mucha!” You can also visit the art gallery dedicated to Mucha, which is on the old square, and, whatsmore, they only broadcast French songs. We all need a bit of Edith Piaf in our lives.
So? I bet you are already looking for plane tickets to go to Czech Republic. You’ll see, you won’t want to come back! And don’t worry about the Czech language: With the right people, any language can be learned. Czech is a phonetic language, all letters are pronounced! That will be a nice change from English or French, right?
By Marie Kerhervé
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