As we really enjoyed the three hour tour by Prague Extravaganza Free Tour, we decided to also try their Communism & Bunker Tour. You can find our experience from the Free Tour here. This tour works a little differently than the Free Tour. It has a set fee, which also includes the entrance to the Nuclear Bunker. This might be a little disappointing for those who are traveling on low budget, but the 500 Kc (23 USD) is really money well spent. You will stroll the Old and New Town with a local guide, who is more than happy to give you local tips on restaurants/pubs/sights and answer any crazy question you might have about Czechs and Prague. You will learn about recent Czech history from WWII until the current time and you will visit the nuclear bunker at the end of the tour, which is a sight not normally accessible to tourists!
Here are few interesting points which we learned on the tour:
Hussites were glorified by Communist Propaganda, as that part of history fit well with the ideas of the struggle of the working class. The Betlém Chapel on Betlémské Square is a new church built by architect Jaroslav Fragner in 1954. The original chapel was torn down in the 19th century and an apartment house was built in its place. We wrote another post on the beginnings of the Hussite movement that you can read.
Bartolomějská Street was avoid by local inhabitants during the Communist period. The Public Security (Police) and the State Security (Secret Communist Police) had a center there and the feared short term holding cells and interrogation rooms where there. In the basement of the now four star hotel Unitas – Václav Havel, the Czech dissident and first post-communist president of the Czech Republic, had his personal cell there as he was there quite often due to his anti-regime work.
When strolling through Wenceslas Square, do not only stop by the St. Wenceslas riding statue, also look about 10 meters down the square. On the edge of flower bed you will find a memorial plaque for two young men, Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc who burned themselves to death as a protest against the Soviet Invasion in the summer of 1968. Soviet troops remained in Czechoslovakia until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Hotel Jalta on Wenceslas Square was built in 1950’s in a spot where a house was bombed during WWII and later demolished. It was the hotel for the cream of Communist regime. Glamorous parties, secret meetings and also a lot spying took a place there during the 40 years of the Communist regime. Today, it is luxurious hotel with a little crooked history.
The tour starts at Old Town Square on the corner with Parizska Street at 11 am every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Reservation is recommended, but not necessary. The group is limited to 10 participants, so an individual experience is guaranteed!
Overall fun and educational way how to spend a late morning and early afternoon in Prague!:)
Is the Communist era interesting to you? Do you do tours when you travel, or are you more of a solo fish? Let us know in the comments below!
The title picture is a curtesy of Pamětní desky v Praze.
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