Tag - Prague

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Purple Pick: Ancient Castles
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Purple 10: Worlds creepiest places
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Purple 10: Prague Tourism
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Purple Hearts: Prague Travel Guide
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Football Crazy? Or maybe not.

Purple Pick: Ancient Castles

Functioning as both a connection to the past and an exhibition of architectural beauty, these mighty and somewhat unrealistic constructions are now ironically considered some of the most peaceful buildings around. From huge, solid strongholds to oriental fortresses and highly decorative palaces, here is our pick of the world’s most incredible ancient castles.

prague castleimage by mindriot

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Prague Castle is one of the largest and oldest castles in the world – its surface is around 570 metres long and 130 metres wide. Most fascinating about the castle is its design; representing literally every architectural style of the last millennium, from Gothic to Romanesque and Baroque features, the castle’s first buildings emerged as early as in the ninth century.

The Potala Palace, Tibet

Situated upon Marpo Ri hill, above the Lhasa valley in Tibet, the Potala Palace is the greatest monumental structure in the country. Built by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in 637, the original structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the larger buildings, which still stand today. The present palace, known as Potrang Karpo, or the White Palace, was completed in 1648, during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was then added, requiring some 7000 workers and 1500 artists and craftsman for its completion.

Mont St. Michel, France

Le Mont St Michel is located on a small, rocky quasi-island on the Normandy coast, near Brittany. Only one narrow causeway links the island to the coastline, adding to the overall impression of this other-wordly castle. Unlike other castles in France, which were built for defence or to house royals, Mont St Michel began life as a monastery. Italian architect, William de Volpiano, designed the Romanesque church of the abbey in the 11th century, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Countless underground crypts and chapels were built below the structure to compensate for its weight. Today, it attracts over four million visitors a year and has been featured in several movies, cartoons, and even videogames.

Predjamski Castle, Slovenia

Do not be deceived by this castle’s small stature in comparison to other’s around the world – Predjamski is integrated into the second largest cave system in Slovenia and probably the only castle in the world incorporated into the landscape in such a way. It is also the only cave in the world with a double-track railway, meaning tourists can view the inner tunnels, galleries and halls of this unique architectural work.Although its name literally translates as ‘Castle in Front of the Cave’, the castle was actually built in stages, beginning in the twelfth century, with the middle added in renaissance, and the right wing built around 1570.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle from Purple Travel

Neuschwanstein Castle via @ Wikicommons

Built for Louis II of Bavaria, often referred to as Mad King Ludwig, Neuschwanstein is a royal palace, located in the Bavarian Alps of Germany. The castle is a quintessential work of nineteenth century romanticism and a fantastical imitation of a medieval castle, complete with towers, spires and turrets – it’s no wonder that Sleeping Beauty’s cast in Disneyland was modelled on it. The castle was also extremely revolutionary at the time, equipped with all kinds of technical conveniences, including running water on all floors, automatic flushing toilets on every floor and a heating system for the entire building.

Matsumoto Castle, Japan

Matsumoto Castle, locally named Matsumotojo, is one of the most complete and beautiful in all of Japan and its origins go back to the Sengoku period (1500s). The castle is an example of ‘hirajiro’, in that it was built on a plain rather than on a hill.

Hunyad Castle, Romania

Although today located in what is known as Hunedoara, Romania, the Hunyad Castle was originally part of Transylvania, and is believed to be the place where Vlad III of Wallachia (aka Dracula) was held prisoner for seven years after he was overthrown in 1462. The castle is the most impressive relic of the Hunyadi dynasty, built in a Gothic style, with Baroque and Renaissance elements. Understandably intimidating, considering its history, the castle’s appearance is equally eerie; a large and imposing building makes up the castle, complete with tall, coloured roofs and myriad towers, windows and balconies, each decorated with stone carvings.

Pena Nationa, Portugal

The oldest palace inspired by European Romanticism, Pena National Palace in Portugal is perched on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra. First built in the fifteenth century as a palace, the building was later reconstructed and donated to the church as a monastery. The style of the palace is a diverse combination of the original and subsequent architectural styles, including Romantic, Bavarian, and Moorish.

Purple 10: Prague Tourism

From ancient bohemian capital, to a buzzing modern city, Prague tourism (or Praha to the locals) has seen lots of changes over the years. In fact the whole centre of the city was named as a UNESCO World Heritage site so you know there’s lots to see and do.

Here’s our Purple 10 of the must see things to do and see around Prague.

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Purple Hearts: Prague Travel Guide

Prague’s huge popularity was once down to 20p pints and cheap flights on EasyJet. And today, although not the bargain it once was, its appeal continues to grow. A fascinating history combined with a stong architectural credibility, ensures the Czech capital is as compelling a city break as ever. Take the city centre, for example. Here you will find examples of almost every architectural trend of the last two centuries, including Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, neoclassical, art nouveau and cubist. And for those who venture beyond the medieval lanes of the Old Town and the Castle District, a hub of modern culture fashions the landscape, from lively bars and beer gardens to clubs, live music venues, and cutting-edge art galleries.

However, Prague travel does have its negatives. The good places are often the most difficult for an unknowing tourist to scope out; too many people, serious traffic jams and heaps of tacky commercialism mean Prague’s secret treasures are less ‘hidden gem’ and more Mission Impossible. In fact, many travellers return from Prague considering it nothing more than ‘Magaluf in a city break’. With this in mind, we wanted to create a Prague travel guide that would seek out the best of Prague, so you won’t waste any valuable holiday time and can avoid getting ripped off with the crowds.

Czech in: the sights worth visiting in Prague

Charles Bridge
This spectacular 15th century bridge is the connecting structure between the ‘Lesser Town’ and the old town. Adorned with 30 statues of saints and lined with old fashioned lanterns, it is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll.
Purple Tip:
Avoid visiting during the middle of the day when the crowds flock across the bridge to grab some snaps of the ‘entertainers’ and craft stalls that line the bridge.

The Astronomical Clock
The striking astronomical clock of the town hall, which also features a calendar painted by the famous Czech painter Josef Manes, and the procession of the 12 apostles who appear through the wooden doors that open at the top, is a must-see in Prague. The clock displays four times: central European time, old bohemian time, stellar time and Babylonian time.
Purple Tip:
Visit early (9am is best) to avoid the crowds and make sure you arrive on the hour to view the show of the apostles.

The John Lennon wall
One of the more unusual sights in Prague is the graffiti-covered, featuring an image of John Lennon’s face. Despite having never visited Prague, he became a hero to young Czechs, anti-communists and peace activists, particularly after his murder in the 1980s when western music was banned here. Since the collapse of communism, visitors from all over the globe have added messages of peace, creating an impactive statement set against the soft palette of the more traditional buildings of Prague.
Purple Tip:
You can find some really fascinating messages on the wall if you look closely.

The castle
The Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. Having survived invasions, fires, wars and rebuilds, the castle displays a striking mix of architectural styles. It is currently the seat of the president of the Czech Republic, and every hour, on the hour, visitors can witness the changing of the guard.
Purple Tip:
If you catch the changing of the guard at midday, you can see the military fanfare, too.

You should read… Top Sights to see in Prague

The Jewish Quarter

The harrowing story of Prague’s Jewish community begins as far back as the 13th Century, when the Jewish Quarter was created. Jews had extreme restrictions placed upon them and were not allowed to live in any other area, causing it to become known as The Prague Ghetto until 1781. Important historical buildings, including synagogues, The Jewish Town Hall and the Jewish cemetery remain on the grounds.
Purple Tip:
The Jewish cemetery is a must-see for history fanatics. It is the oldest burial ground in the world, and where some 12,000 graves are piled on top of the one other.

Kampa Island and Kampa Museum
 Opened in 2002, the Kampa Museum holds an extensive, permanent collection of Central European art, as well as some impressive temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Situated on Kampa Island, on the left back of the Vltava River, the modern gallery is the home of a large chair sculpture by artist, Magdalena Jetelova, which is situated outside the museum and is a prominent landmark visible from across the Vltava.
Purple Tip:
Include the visit into your exploration of the Lesser town and enjoy lunch in the museum’s elegant riverside café.

Czech these out: things to do in Prague

Grab a coffee
Prague’s chicest and most atmospheric cafes are mostly all on the first floor, meaning great views and fewer tourists. Expect to find a picturesque setting of period interiors, such as in the Grand Café Orient above the Cubist Museum, where the coffee is dependably wonderful and the cakes are decorated with love. Similarly, the Café Louvre, with its abundant natural light, numerous elaborate mirrors, fine pastel shaded walls and light furniture, was a favourite with Kafka and Einstein. Try one of their legendary hot chocolates, so thick that you can stand a spoon up in it.

Have a wild night out

Clubbing and anarchy goes hand-in-hand in Prague; with almost no safety regulations or political correctness, you can expect bar-top stripping, grungy interiors and rampant stimulant use in many of the capital’s bars. Venue such as Staré Mêsto on a Friday night, hip art bar Cross Club and live music venue, Bordo, all organise seriously cool events, such as short film festivals, experimental rock nights and 90s throwback tributes. Újezd is a smoky three-storey madhouse, filled with badly amplified rock and a young dreaded Czech crowd and Wakata, a true teenage wasteland, houses art exhibitions and live bands.

Czech, please: the Prague food scene

In a country where the national dish is roast pork, dumplings and sauerkraut, you better leave your diet at home. Traditional Czech meals are not only heavy, but also on the salty side, however, they are always tasty. There’s also some serious pig lust going on here, so vegetarians – do your research (and see below). Here’s our pick of the best places to get your fill in the capital:

Clear Head
Clear Head is a vegetarian restaurant located in a 15th-century house on what is said to be the shortest street in Old Town Prague. This welcoming former teahouse serves a rotating menu of feel-good foods, including hearty soups, Indian-influenced cuisine and colourful entrees.

Bohemia Bagel
Recommended by the NY Times, this bagel joint is life-saving for anyone craving something familiar amongst the midst of menu items you cannot pronounce. Bohemia Bagel serves up bagel sandwiches, burgers and diner classics like huevos rancheros and pigs in a blanket.

Celeste restaurant
Serving up frill-free French cuisine, this wavy riverfront building designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic, resembles a couple – often called Fred and Ginger – in midstep. Gwendal Le Ruyet, the head chef, who spent five years working with Alain Ducasse, uses mostly local ingredients and intense flavours. The top floor of the building provides unparalleled views of the Vltava River and Prague Castle.

Allegro
For unrivalled Italian cooking in Prague, head to the Four Seasons Hotel. Although a little on the pricey side, chef Vito Mollica’s seasonal dishes are worth emptying your pockets for. Expect dishes such as slow-roasted veal with Alba truffles and aged Modena balsamic vinegar.

Enjoyed our Prague travel guide? Visit Prague on a great value city break in 2014 with Purple Travel. Visit our website for more or call 02079939228.

Football Crazy? Or maybe not.

Mykonos

Are you football mad? Will you be addicted to every game in Euro 2012, from the initial qualifier to the tense finals? Well, I have a confession to make. Although I will be supporting our team with gusto, thrilled at each goal and disappointed with each miss, I do have a tendency to daydream a little bit. At least I’m being honest about it, right? One of my favourite daydreaming topics is picturing myself on a picture perfect beach, or strolling up the cobbled streets of some historic town, possibly with a cocktail at the ready.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d offer some of the place I’ll be daydreaming about from Friday.. (in between huge cheers, of course!) Read More

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