Almost every city has somewhere high to go to see the place spread below you. In some it is a mountain to climb, like my new home of Freiburg. Sometimes like Dubrovnik, the city walls let you survey the land. Other places it is a TV tower or a cathedral tower. In Prague, the best way of seeing the city from above is to climb the tower at city hall on Old Town Square. Seriously, if you only have one day in Prague, it is completely worth it. Though if you have a choice, a sunny day is perhaps worth waiting for.
There is no way to miss this iconic church. It ends up on every post card and view of Prague, and for very good reason. It is really awesome. When I first saw Prague in 1997 it captivated me. The gothic pointyness of the towers is just cool. At night it seems a bit eery when it gets lit. From the view at the top of the tower, the church is still pretty awesome. Especially that at this height you are more eye to eye with the lady.
Old Town Square
Once you are done admiring the spiky coolness of the cathedral look down on the square. I am an enormous fan of people watching. From up here the scenes are different but no less interesting. On the past two times I was in Prague, there was a market in the square. One was Christmas the other Easter. This gave extraordinary views of watching people mill about. The last time in November we even saw a few limousines from a wedding party. The tower is on city hall, so it makes sense this is where some people would get married.
Across the river and up the slope is castle hill. From the heights of the tower you can see the towers of the cathedral perched in the middle of the castle rising from the hill.
Astronomical Clock and the Trumpeting of the Hours
One of the features of the square you cannot see from up above is the astronomical clock. This famous clock has figures that come out of a little door and parade around on the hour. Tourists crowd around to see the few minute show. Yet, from above they trumpet the hours. Someone dressed in colorful clothes walks around and plays the trumpet in each of the four directions out into the city.
Church and Metronome
One side of the tower faces toward St Nicholas Church. This is the baroque church with the green domes. It is neat to see, but I find Baroque extraordinarily gaudy and much prefer Gothic. What I do like about this side is that way off on the hill there is a red Metronome. It moves! It is an enormous red bar that tick tocks back and forth.
Climbing the Tower
So the tower is really obvious right in the middle of the square. To get into the area where you can get up the tower, go through the tourist information doors next door. There should be signs, but you go through the lobby and find the elevator up to where you can pay your fee and go to the tower. There is an elevator as well as a set of stairs inside the tower. There is not an enormous amount of room up top, but it didn’t feel so claustrophobic to me. It is really worth taking your time and seeing what is around, taking plenty of pictures.