Royal Way of Prague
If you have just a few hours to spend in Prague, you should travel the Royal Way. The Royal Way (Královská cesta in Czech) is the traditional coronation route of Czech kings. The way starts at the Republic Square, where a city seat of Czech kings used to be, passes many of Prague's most impressive sights and ends at Prague Castle. All of the three world wonders listed on the Hillman's list that happen to be in Prague (Old Town, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle) are included in this itinerary. And, of course, the whole Royal Way is part of the Historic Centre of Prague which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. You will also visit several places with a great opportunity to look over a great part of the city. Prague has much more to offer, but the Royal Way includes the most important and most beautiful treasures.
The first monarch to use the Royal Way for his coronation was Albert II of Habsburg in 1438. In the next 400 years almost all rulers followed in his tracks. The last one was Ferdinand I of Austria who was crowned in 1836. Since the 16th century, when the permanent seat of Czech kings moved to Vienna, the Royal Way was used also for official visits of the king in the Czech capital. For those Habsburgs who are buried in the St. Vitus cathedral in the Prague Castle, the Royal Way was also their last journey ever.
Take a pair of comfortable shoes. A map of Prague or a GPS unit and a printout of this page would be useful - it is not impossible to get lost in Prague even for someone who has lived there for 20 years. Also, you will probably need some money - the Royal Way goes through several tourist traps, and you may be tempted to buy expensive souvenirs or buy refreshments in a restaurant or a pub. The whole area is quite expensive. You will also need to buy a ticket to get inside some of the sights, which is worth the money, but is not necessary. On the other hand, you can go this route without any money at all. However, in such a case, especially in hot weather, pack a bottle of water since the Prague Castle stands on a hill. And, last but not least, do not forget your camera. If you take just one picture in Prague, it should be a picture taken somewhere along the Royal Way. And if you are a geocacher, take your tools and cache data. There are caches along the Royal Way.
The time needed to complete the route may vary greatly. The route is about 3 or 4 km long, so it can be easily completed in an hour. But the number of opportunities to spend time along the way is so great, that it will probably take much longer and it can take even a whole day.
For instructions on how to get into the city, see Prague.
The Royal Way starts at the Republic Square, which is very well connected to other parts of the city. The most reliable way to get there is by subway, line B (yellow), station "Náměstí republiky". Pay attention when leaving the station. You should go through the "Náměstí republiky" exit, not "Masarykovo nádraží", which leads to a railway station nearby. Tram lines 5, 8, 14 (and night lines 51 and 54) and bus lines 133 (and night lines 505, 509 and 513) also stop at the Republic Square. If you have just arrived in Prague by train at Masarykovo nádraží, you can easily reach Republic Square on foot.
If you happen to be at Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), do not bother with public transport and go to the Republic Square on foot - walk down the Wenceslas Square and then to the right, through the Na příkopě street with many shops, which leads directly to Republic Square. This way, although not part of this itinerary, is worth it. If you are going with subway A or C, you may also consider getting out at Wenceslas Square (stations Můstek or Muzeum) instead of changing to the B line. It is not faster, but if you do not enjoy the subway ride and changing lines, it may be a good idea. Just pay attention when getting out, and take the "Václavské náměstí" exit.
Getting out of the castle: After you have completed the Royal Way and your visit to the Prague castle, you have several possibilities. You can backtrack to the Malá Strana and take some tram there. You can also leave the castle at the opposite site and take the tram 22 which will take you for example to the subway A station "Hradčanská". If you have time to spare, you can explore the area around the castle and visit some of the sights there, which are discussed below.
The Royal Way of Prague
The starting point is on Republic Square, GPS:
Here, you can see a magnificient building in Art Nouveau style, the Municipal House (Obecní dům in Czech), built in 1905-1912. The main space within the Municipal House is a concert space, Smetana Hall, named in honor of the famous Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. The Municipal House is very important for the Czech history for two reasons. On October 28, 1918, after the fall of Austria-Hungary, Smetana Hall was the scene of the proclamation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia. During the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, the Municipal House was the place of the first meeting of the communist government with representatives of the Civic Forum led by Václav Havel. But in the age of kings, long before the Municipal House was built, Royal Palace (Královský palác or Královský dvůr) stood there. The Royal Palace was built in c. 1380 by Wenceslas IV. and was used as a residence of Czech kings until 1484. The Royal Palace was the starting point of the coronation parades and therefore this is the place, where The Royal Way starts.
To the left (or south) you can see the Powder Tower (Prašná brána in Czech) built in 1475. The Powder Tower got its name in 18th century, when it was used for storing gunpowder. The coronation parades entered the Old Town through the gate in the tower. You should also go that way. But before you continue, consider visiting the tower itself. For 40 Kč (various discounts are available) and 186 stairs (no discounts), you can enjoy the view from the gallery in the height of 44 meters (the tower is 65 meters high). You will also see a small exhibition about the Royal Palace and life in Prague in middle ages. The Powder Tower is open April to October, from 10AM to 6PM (the last tickets are sold 30 minutes before closing).
From the Powder Tower, you will continue through the Celetná street, one of the oldest streets in Prague. It is about 400 meters long and its name comes from calty, a type of pastry which used to be made here (since the 13th century). Most of the houses in the Celetná street are of romanesque or gothic origin, but most of their facades were renewed in baroque style. Dům U černé Matky boží built in 1911-1912 is a fine example of a cubist architecture.
Old Town Square
Here, see the famous Astronomical Clock.
Walk To the River
Walk to the river. Beware, Karlova street is a tourist trap. It is usually full of dealers trying to sell dubious souvenirs for steep prices. For some strange reason, Russian souvenirs such as matryoshka dolls, fur-caps, or soviet badges are very popular there - better ignore them, as they have little connection with Prague or Czech culture. If you want to spend some money for souvenirs along the Royal Way,
The area is very safe. The only problem may be pickpockets in crowds, especially in trams.
So you have seen the Prague castle and want to get out? There are several options. If you want to quickly go back to your hotel, train station or some other place,