On the eighth day of Christmas... visit Prague
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Christmas is a magical time of the year, and there is no better way to enjoy the festive season than by exploring the beautiful Christmas markets in Prague. Plus, if you're lucky it might snow!
Whilst Prague is beautiful all year round, it truly comes alive in winter, especially during the run-up to Christmas. Christmas decorations light the cobbled streets, whilst festive music fills the city, played in shops, in cathedrals, in the theatre and on street corners. Inescapably, Prague is the true European home of Christmas. If you’re lucky you might even catch the tram that has been specially decorated for the holidays, a rare and festive sight indeed!
Rather than having one Christmas Market, Prague has many scattered around the city, in different though equally beautiful locations. The most popular market is at Staroměstská Náměstí (Old Town Square), where stalls can be found selling items ranging from mulled wine and hot dogs, to handcrafted decorations, old style glass and metalwork, and gingerbread houses. A large Christmas tree brought all the way from the Bohemian forest takes pride of place in the square, decorated generously with beautiful lights that can be seen from afar. It offers a breathtaking sight against the backdrop of The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, whose dark, gothic towers peer formidably over the top of the tree.
A large stage plays hosts to local choirs and performers, who offer nightly entertainment to the visitors of the market. Additionally, if you walk through the market you will find a small barn in which a horse, a donkey and some sheep can be found grazing idly. Friendly and cheerful, these animals are a source of joy for tourists and can be fed from the dispensers at the side (for a small price).
Other markets are held at Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square), Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square) and Náměstí Míru (Peace Square). While slightly smaller, these markets offer very similar stalls. However, jewellery stalls are more common at these markets, and thus they are a must to visit if you want to take home any jewellery made of garnet, a native and beloved gemstone of the Czech Republic.
Otherwise smaller stalls can be found dotted around the city, including at Malostranské náměstí and at Prague Castle. Similar products to the bigger markets can be found here, though there is often more focus on handcrafted items, such as candle holders, ironwork and Christmas tree decorations.
Yet it is not necessary to visit the markets in order to bask in the festive spirit of Prague. The historical and picturesque city is a magnificent site at night when all the lights are on, and a stroll through the city would easily
Alternatively, enjoy the concerts at any of the historic cathedrals or churches in the city, where daily performances can be found. Perhaps visit the Národní Divadlo (National Theatre) to enjoy a production of the Nutcracker ballet or an Advent concert. If you don’t want to spend any money simply wander through the streets, as Prague is filled with street performers who will offer renditions of well known Christmas songs, as well as a few native to the Czech Republic.
One key advantage that Prague has above other locations is its prices, as you are unlikely to find a city that offers products so cheap, be they sold at markets, shops or restaurants. Indeed, it is surprisingly cheap and easy to travel to and stay in Prague, whilst getting the most out of your trip.
Add to this the beauty, history and centrality of the city, and it seems ludicrous to think about going anywhere else instead!