Rick Steves

Top Reasons to Visit Prague Now

If you're looking for a European destination that's equal parts culture and entertainment, Czech Republic's capital city, Prague, is the place for you.

In this week's episode of "Rick Steves' Europe," travel guide extraordinaire Rick Steves highlights Prague's perfect blend of breathtaking architecture, deep-rooted history and youthful spirit -- all of which have attracted more and more visitors to this beautiful city in recent years.

For help planning your next European adventure, check out "Rick Steves' Europe" every weekday at 7 p.m. The show will move to 7:30 p.m. beginning January 5. New episodes air Mondays.

In the meantime, here's a handful of reasons why a trip to Prague is a European bucket list must:

1. It's Europe's best preserved city

Despite witnessing three major wars in the 20th century (World Wars I and II, and the Cold War), Prague is one of the only European capitals to escape massive wartime bombings. Thanks to that stroke of luck, the city has maintained much of its original charm -- a rarity, especially for Eastern Europe.

The city's main attractions include Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the Jewish Quarter, the Old Town Square, and many more.

2. Art Nouveau influences

Prague is one of the best Art Nouveau towns in Europe, as Steves explains. This ornamental style of art, which flourished from 1890 to 1910, is characterized by its use of long, flowing curvy shapes and fonts, and can be seen in much of the architecture throughout the city. You'll find plenty of examples near the Old Town and Wenceslas Squares.

One of the movement's most prominent Czech artists was Alphonse Mucha. You can see his most famous works -- including his trademark advertisements featuring pretty women and flowers -- at Prague's Mucha Museum and at St. Vitus Cathedral. Mucha's most extensive piece, called The Slav Epic, depicts the cultural history of the Slavic people on 20 huge canvasses. You can see each one in person at the National Gallery in Prague.

3. Concerts galore

Prague has always been a mecca for musicians and composers. And thanks to an ongoing selection of inexpensive shows all over the city, the enthusiasm for music lives on today. Box offices around the city offer cheap tickets (about half the price of Viennese concerts) to shows at your choice of historical venues. During his stay, Steves attended a classical string quartet recital at the Chapel of Mirrors and watched the Prague Castle Orchestra play just outside the castle. Seeing a talented group perform live at a dream-worthy venue will definitely give you a greater appreciation for classical music.

4. Beer, beer, and more beer

Enough said, right? But seriously, the Czech Republic has a long history of beer brewing and to this day, some of Europe's best beers are brewed in Prague. Beer halls and pubs are an integral part of the city's social scene and there's no shortage of spots to relax, make new friends, and sample the country's perfected lagers.

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