We get it — going to a beer garden and spending a day in the shade with a nice cold brew is perhaps one of the best and most popular ways in Prague to spend a summer’s afternoon. But if you’re looking for an outdoor alternative, why not take a few hours away from the beer garden and head to Prague’s Troja neighbourhood, where you can find an escape from the crowds as well as a picturesque chateau — perfect for an afternoon of exploring!
Located just across the street from the Prague Zoo, Troja Castle is a beautiful baroque palace that’s a bit off the city’s beaten path. It will take about 20 minutes via public transportation (metro and tram) to get from the city centre, but the adventure is well worth it, as the journey shows a more residential side of Prague — something that many travellers miss. The chateau was built as a hunting lodge for counts of Sternberg in the 1600s, and is a haven of French and Italian-inspired architecture. The buildings, alongside gorgeous gardens, coral accent colours, and incredibly well-manicured landscapes make for some great pictures. Prepare to dazzle all your friends with your Instagram prowess!
The inside of the chateau has entertainment as well, including a gift shop with books on Prague’s art scene and, for a few more Czech crowns, you can purchase entry into the chateau’s art exhibition area. When I spent the day in Troja, I opted out of this, mainly due to the fact that the exhibit was on old Prague porcelain figurines. While I appreciate the masterful skill it takes to create these figurines, the fact remains that dolls creep me out — but for those not scared by childhood traumas, I highly recommend a peek inside!
Outdoors, to the left of the chateau, you can find a giant maze that puts you instantly in the mind of Alice in Wonderland or of Harry Potter in the Triwizard tournament. Whether you want to pretend to spend some time in Alice’s Wonderland or practice escaping the Death Eaters, it’s the perfect place to train, complete with a view of nearby vineyards and a church on a hill! How much more quaint can you get?
If or when you get tired of traipsing through the mazes, head on over to the orchard hidden in the middle for a picnic. Sun and apples not guaranteed — but likely. Also, remember to BYO-blanket (wisdom to live by in Prague, really).
After heading through the grounds, I suggest exploring the back of the chateau, which is even more visually stunning than the front. The back gardens feature ornamental hedges along with a staircase decorated entirely with ancient-looking statues, seemingly locked in combat. If you explore far enough back, you can even exit the chateau grounds and cross a small parking lot to see a quiet river and a far-off view of the city centre. Walking through the gardens imparts one with a civilised, old-world feel — much like I imagine the aristocracy in a Jane Austen novel or Victorian England would have felt.
A trip to Troja chateau will give you insight into how the other half lived in the days before Czech independence. The building really takes on a whole new level of luxurious when you realise that this was only ever really intended to be a hunting lodge, not a place for people to live every day.
It’s a great place to spend some time away from the beer gardens and crowded parks and to explore something few visitors see in their travels to Prague. Don’t be afraid of getting too far from those famous Czech brews, though — if you get tired, you can always stop by the chateau’s outdoor café and sip some wine or guzzle some beer. After all, no day in the Czech Republic would be complete without a drink break!
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