Unwind in the embrace of Prague’s parks
Prague’s parks and period gardens are one of the highlights this “city of a hundred spires” can be truly proud of. They are places where the people of Prague and visitors can meet every day of the year, enjoy a picnic, take a break or do some sport. If you fancy escaping to a magic realm of trees, flowers, well-tended lawns, lakes and fountains, then choose from any of the two hundred parks, established steadily since medieval times, which today could be described as the green lungs of this city on the Vltava.
New York has Central Park, and Prague has Stromovka. This large park was created in the 13th century by Czech King Přemysl Otakar II and is one of the most popular places to relax in Prague. Here you’ll discover a green oasis with ponds, mature trees, children’s playgrounds and carefully manicured lawns – great places for an afternoon’s reading, sun-tanning or picnicking with friends. The park lies near the wonderful Governor’s Summer Palace, which gives the area the feel of a royal hunting enclosure. One of the Czech capital’s most beautiful parks wraps itself around Petřín Hill. Whether it be in spring, when the hill’s fruit trees explode into blossom, or in autumn when it bursts into colour, it’s a place the people of Prague just love to visit.
Rock on and relax
It’s hard to imagine a better place to head on a sweltering hot day than Letenské sady, a dewy tankard of Czech beer in your hand as you admire the incredible views across golden Prague. This is how thousands of locals and visitors spend some of their time in Prague. A great position above the city means it is a fine venue for big events. Coronation celebrations once took place here, troops have set up camp here, and marches and military parades are regular occurrences. Pope John Paul II even held a mass here. Today the park is a venue for big rock concerts and a theatre and music festival called Summer Letná. Are you a fan of grand chateau parks? If so, set off in the direction of Průhonice where you’ll discover one of the largest in Europe. The complex includes an exquisite chateau as well as a famous set of botanical gardens.
Picnic among the peacocks anyone?
Wouldn’t you love to find a quiet oasis amid the hustle of the city centre, a place where you can mull over life’s intricacies or just read a good book? Then head for Vojanovy sady. Under the park’s magnolias you can watch a special feature here, a flock of wonderful peacocks. A picnic basket, a blanket, a book and a pair of sunglasses – essential kit for the perfect day at Riegrovy sady. Here you can find a spot on the carefully snipped lawns and enjoy the magnificent views of Prague Castle and the Lesser Quarter while you enjoy a romantic picnic you’ll never forget. Like flying kites? You’ll find ideal conditions for this activity at the eye-catching Hvězda enclosure, which surrounds a summer palace of the same name. This was built in the shape of six-pointed star, hence the name (“hvězda” means star in Czech). The enclosure was once a venue for celebrations and Renaissance-era hunts for the nobility; today it’s a popular place to unwind, just a short hop from central Prague.
Feed your romantic soul in Prague’s gardens
If you are a bit of a dreamer, you’ll certainly appreciate the park on Kampa Island, a place that’s perfect for lazing about. You can also kick back in the attractive Františkánská Gardens between Wenceslas Square and Jungmannovo Square, sprinkled with summer roses which climb across the decorative metal arches. More eye candy can be found at the exquisite Palace Gardens in the Lesser Quarter, which provide ample quantities of elegant architecture, skilful garden design and breathtaking views across the capital. Always up for a glass of wine? Then come and take a break at Grébovka Park in the Vinohrady district, where vines have been cultivated since the reign of Charles IV. Spend time over a glass of wine in a gazebo or take a stroll through the artificial grotto, which has appeared in several film adaptations of Czech fairytales.