Twenty-five years since the Czech and Slovak republics split in the Velvet Divorce, both continue to share remarkably close ties. Not surprisingly, tourism plays a key role, with Czech visitors, for example, making up for more than a third of foreign tourists in Slovakia a year. While the Czech Republic may have the edge in the number of castles and chateaux, sites such as the Tatra Mountains or Slovak Paradise remain major draws for Czechs.
Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock on Old Town Square are some of the architectural jewels that attract millions of visitors to Prague every year. What is special about the city is its historic authenticity documenting the city’s urban development of over a thousand years. The integral complex of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, its romantic cobbled alleys and gas lamps give visitors the impression that they have travelled back in time.
Liechtenstein Palace at Prague's Kampa, used by the government on the
occasion of special conferences and for international delegations, will be
open to the public over the course of Friday, a national holiday marking
the events of November 17,1989 and November 17,1939, the former the start
of the Velvet Revolution which brought down communism in Czechoslovakia.
Tours of the palace interiors will be possible from 10 am to 4 pm, government spokesman Martin Ayrer confirmed.
Liechtenstein Palace, dating back to the 17th century, has stately apartments which were used by world leaders on official visits, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the king of Spain Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The number of visitors who stayed in Czech hotels and other forms of
accommodation increased by 5.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of
2017 to reach seven million. There was an increase in the number of both
international and domestic tourists, according to figures released on
Wednesday by the Czech Statistics Office.
The total number of nights booked in Czech accommodation facilities between July and October was 19.9 million, a rise of 4.2 percent on the same period in 2016.
Close to 15,000 people visited Prague Castle in the past two days to admire
newly-renovated state rooms which are normally off-limits to the public.
Prague Castle offered special tours on Friday and Saturday which took visitors to the former offices of presidents T.G.Masaryk and Edvard Beneš as well as the Coronation Hall where the president appoints ministers and receives ambassadors.
Visitors also gained admission to the dining hall used by former heads of state and could admire the authentic porcelain sets and silverware used on special occasions.
U.S. News & World Report has just rated Prague as their Best Christmas Vacation, beating out nearby Vienna, which came in second, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, which was ranked third. Described as a “winter wonderland you’ve got to see to believe”, the publication also praised the Czech capital’s increasingly famous seasonal markets. I asked Barbora Hrubá of Prague City Tourism, the body which promotes the capital city, to present her pitch for why Prague is being lauded as a Christmas destination:
Prague is considering a campaign aimed at alerting tourists to sharp
practices by currency exchange booths and those offering currency exchange
on the streets. The move is being weighed following a similar one already
carried out targeting dishonest taxi drivers. It could include leaflets in
hotels and tourist hotspots.
Tougher moves, regulating the exchange rate offered, have been proposed by the Pirates party. The Czech National Bank is the main organ regulating exchange offices and has increased the number of checks and actions taken against them over recent years.
Many tourists exchanging money at such offices or on the street are unaware of what the official exchange rate is or what Czech bank notes look like, making them easy prey to conmen and sharp traders.
Prague has been placed as the sixth most attractive city in the world for
tourists on their own by the news server Business Insider.
It created a ranking of the 50 best locations based on evaluations from users of the biggest credit card companies, personal security, and cost of living. The first placed location was Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.