Impress your friends with these little-known and interesting Prague facts, from the world’s largest castle to the lengths the Czechs will go to consume their “liquid bread”…
1. The locals drink the most beer in the world – and it’s cheaper than water
Even non-beer drinkers know that Prague is the birthplace of Pilsner. Czech locals first brewed the now-famous beverage in the mid-19th century. However, beer production dates back to about 993 AD, with a brew the locals liked to call “liquid bread”.
Today, Czech consumes more beer per capita than any other country. That’s about 161 litres of beer per person per year. And it’s good beer too, if the sheer number and array of global awards it wins is anything to go by. During your visit, try many different varieties, from pale ales to dark and mysterious brews. Responsibly of course!
(It’s also cheaper than water)
Did you know that Prague is famous for selling beer that’s cheaper than water? Travellers can buy a pint of local beer for about 14 koruna, whereas bottled water could cost as much as 35 koruna! If that’s not worth a hearty na zdravi (cheers), we don’t know what is.
Don’t despair if you’re a wine lover though. The city is brimming with breweries, so wine lovers can find their tipple of choice with ease. We’ve done the homework for you and can recommend a few.
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2. The largest castle in the world
The Guinness Book of Records lists Prague Castle as the largest castle complex in the world. Windsor Castle in England still takes the crown for the largest inhabited castle, but let’s not get pedantic, shall we?
The UNESCO-listed Prague Castle has stood on its site for more than 1000 years. Consequently, it has had several centuries to evolve. Aim to spend a few hours wandering through its 70,000 m² of palaces, chapels and gardens to gain a sense of this extraordinary place. Here, you can marvel at the St. Vitus Cathedral, located in the Castle’s grounds and the past coronation site of Czech kings and queens. To top it all off, stroll along the castle walls, one of the best spots in the city to capture those epic views over the red roofs of the Old Town.
3. The Rolling Stones light up the night
Speaking of Prague Castle, visitors have the Rolling Stones to thank for the enchanting night-time view of the castle. As the story goes, the celebrated band loved Prague Castle so much, they suggested to then-president, Václav Havel, that it be lit up at night.
At the time, the president, tasked with rebuilding the post-Communist country, had more serious problems to tackle than flicking the switch in favour of an illuminated landmark. But not to be deterred, the Rolling Stones took the task upon themselves. Their lighting designer used $32,000, donated by the band, to install a night-time lighting system for the castle.
4. An ancient Astronomical Clock
Prague’s Astronomical Clock, locally known as Prague Orloj, is one of the city’s most famous attractions. The medieval timekeeper, which keeps crowds enthralled daily, was installed in 1410 and is today the oldest working clock of its kind.
Find it on the southern side of the Old Town Hall, along with travellers trying to capture its Apostles ‘in the act’. When the clock chimes 9 am to 11 pm, the Apostles and other statues put on quite the show.
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5. A famous wall of peace – named after someone who never visited
Colour Prague fabulous, and it would appear that the locals have. The John Lennon Wall is a kaleidoscopic graffiti wall in Prague, filled with messages and lyrics of peace from iconic Beatles songs. The deceased Beatle’s link to the city is an interesting Prague fact. Although Lennon never visited the city, he became a pacifist icon for young Czechs after his murder in 1980.
The messages of peace inscribed on the wall over several decades were erased in a cloud of white paint in 2014 however. On the 25th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution, students painted the wall, but it soon filled up again with graffiti messages of peace and hope. You can find Lennon Wall near the Charles Bridge, in Mala Strana.
6. Quirky architectural sights
The internationally renowned Czech sculptor, David Černý, is the brains behind many of the bizarre sculptures that dot the Prague cityscape. Most notable are the giant babies you’ll see crawling up the 216-metre tall Žižkov TV Tower. Naturally, the Tower was once voted one of the ugliest buildings in the world.
Next, see if you can spot the sculpture of two life-sized bronze men “going to the little boys’ room” in a Czech-Republic shaped pool in front of the Franz Kafka Museum.
Also, look for the man hanging from an umbrella at the intersection of Na Zborenci and Odboru streets in the New Town. Another man hangs by his hand from a suspended pole on Husava Street. There’s also an upside-down horse statue in the Lucerna Palace near Wenceslas Square. The genius of Černý blends in starkly with its surrounds.
7. Squeeze through a 50cm wide street
Save the dumplings and trdelník for later, you’ll need the extra room to squeeze through the narrowest street in the city. At just 50cm wide, the street is indeed so tiny, it has traffic lights for pedestrians. These will indicate when to walk to avoid a very close encounter with a stranger.
You can find this sliver of a street off U Lužického semináře street, near the Charles Bridge, in the historic Mala Strana or Old Quarter. It is one of our favourite hidden secrets of this beautiful city.
Care to share some interesting Prague facts of your own? What little-known gems and other fun facts have you discovered visiting the city? We’d love to hear more in the comments below…