CONTRIBUTED BY QUENTIN RICHARDSON
For us, a trip to the Prague Christmas market means we have had the pleasure of visiting Christmas markets in six different countries. Each country having its own distinct version amidst the basic similarities. This market began as our trip to Prague was coming to an exciting end.
For those who have already enjoyed this city, you will enjoy it even more within its market. The main markets are at the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) and Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), which are a 5 minutes walk from each other. There are also smaller markets dotted around the city, and we especially like the one near the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad), which is open for the first time this year.
The most attractive portions of the city were surrounded by stands loaded with the first batch of Czech foods and crafts. Being at any market on the first day is always a treat. As we were visiting The Prague Castle (Praźky Hrad) complex, the interior courtyards facing the city contains the market. The castle courtyards offers places to sit and plenty of picturesque static displays. Cafes along the route to the area also offer fresh gingerbread or ginger cake snacks as well.
The city center, in and around the astronomical clock (Praźky Orloj), offers more variety and more of the events, like choir performances and the tree lighting shows. The first night of the market there were even fireworks. Here you can enjoy more stands offering local favorites covered later in this article.
The market gets very crowded during the day, exponentially during the weekends. When it isn’t too crowded, there is a ramp that allows you to take awesome pictures of the market. In Wenceslas Square (Staromêstské Námêstí) there is a bathroom located at the nearby restaurant adjacent to the astronomical clock called Kotleta. Convenient since it is easy to find and not far from the market.
Around the market and throughout the city, shops are selling a real treat. Trdelnik, also known as chimney cake, should be familiar to most outside of the Czech Republic since it appears in stands throughout the year in German festivals. The fried dough is cooked over a metal rod and coated with cinnamon and sugar. Outside of the market, on Karlova near the Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is a cafe that offers not only the snack, but fillers too. Ranging from sweet, apple strudel or savory cheese and ham, this cafe is always busy year round. Just look for the large trdelnik hanging from the brown sign.
There are also a host of stands offering hot wine (svarak), not glühwein. Compared to glühwein, the hot wine from local stands taste better, especially the honey (medevina) and other milled flavors. The alcohol content varies, depending on the source and the temperature, but the taste! The taste!
Both areas have stands where we enjoyed delicious skewers loaded with bacon, chicken, onions, paprika, and depending on where you buy it, bread. I always enjoyed these since they are always served piping hot. To compliment this treat, there are spiralled and fried potato chips to enjoy or Praguer Old ham. You will see the large chucks of ham slow cooked over a large fire. There are various types of Czech deserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, but since it was snowing and freezing cold, we preferred warmer, savory foods.
Since both areas are well known to tourists, and clearly marked, walking or using the metro to both areas isn’t too difficult. Do not use the Hradčanská metro stop to get to the castle/cathedral since it is too far away from the site and a long boring uphill walk. Use the Karlov Most or old castle steps route.
To get to Prague, we used to City Night Line from Mannheim to Praha-Holešovice, make sure to purchase a couchette or bed car, it is a long ride. Or, you can drive, since there wasn’t any major construction along the A6 during our trip.
Tips for Your Trip:
November 28, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí)
1000 – 2200
Food stands: 1000 – midnight
Staroměstské nám. 1/4, Staré Město, 110 00 Praha-Praha 1
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
1000 – 2200
Food stands: 1000 – midnight
Václavské nám. 45, 110 00 Praha 1
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
0900 – 2100
Pražský hrad, Praha 1 – Hradčany, 119 08
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