Prague is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe. A city that is full of tales of the night! Prague legends are well known for their mysterious histories and dark stories.
I had the chance to visit it for a few days in summer 2015. It was one of the best solo trips I have taken.
The second you set foot in Czech‘s capital, you will be amazed by its cobblestone streets, medieval houses, and its overall appeal. Prague is an ancient city with a very rich history that dates back to thousands of years.
Wandering around it will make you realize that it is literally a magical city, not only because of its charm but also the fascinating legends and myths that fill every stone, building, and street.
Thanks to the walking tours I took throughout the city, I learned more about unusual stories that are an important part of Prague’s history.
If you are looking for “unfamiliar” reasons to visit and wander this city, I’ve put together a list of Prague legends related to most interesting myths.
- Prague’s astronomical clock
- The thief’s dangling hand
- The crown of Saint Wenceslas
- Charles bridge’s legend
Prague’s astronomical clock:
The medieval Prague Orloj is considered one of the oldest in the world. It is known for its fascinating mechanisms. The astronomical dial shows the position of the sun and the moon; a calendar that represents the months and the “walk of Apostles” which shows the figure of death every hour.
Hundreds of people gather beneath it to watch the stunning mechanical performance.
However, behind the beauty of this clock lies a story that is now one of Prague’s main legends.
The representatives of the city had chosen Master Hanus to build a special clock that does more than just measuring the time.He finished the job and presented his amazing design.
The representatives were fascinated by the clock, and at the same time, worried that master Hanus would build a similar one for another region. They offered money to convince him to stop making new clocks and retire. He declined, so they decided to send people over to his house; they blinded him with pieces of iron.
He knew very well who was behind this; with the help of some friends, he went to the clock’s location and destroyed its mechanism. Legend says that it took more than a hundred years to repair it and get it working again.
If you think this story is hard to believe, then wait to see the rest of Prague legends!
The thief’s dangling hand:
The church of St. James the Greater lies in the heart of the old town.
If you ever visit it, remember to look up to your right. You will immediately see an arm bone dangling.
Legend says that, sometime around 1400, a thief got in the church in order to steal the jewels of the statue of the Virgin Mary. The second he touched them, the statue came to life and grabbed his hand without letting go. He tried to run away but he couldn’t free his hand.
The next morning, people came to the church and saw the thief. They found no other way to free him then by cutting off his hand.
The legend continues, that, when his hand was cut off, the statue of the Virgin Mary came back to its original position.
For 600 years, the hand has been hanging in the church‘s interior as a warning. Locals also say that the thief’s spirit still haunts the entrance of StJames.
What a story! right?! Let’s continue with other Prague legends!
The crown of Saint Wenceslas:
The crown of Saint Wenceslas was made in 1347 for the coronation of Bohemian kings.
It is now placed in a small chamber within St. Vitus Cathedral. The chamber is accessible only by a door with 7 locks that are held by the President of the Czech Republic, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament, Chair of the Senate of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, Mayor of Prague, Archbishop of Prague and the Dean of Metropolitan Capital in Prague.
This means, that if the door is to be opened, all of them should agree to this and meet there at the same time.
Legend says that this crown is made only for royalties; If someone is not entitled but wears it will die within a year.
The legend continues that the Nazi governor of Bohemia secretly got the crown and wore it; less than a year later he was assassinated.
Do I personally believe this legend or not? Well, I think every legend is somehow based on a true story and I would say it’s not wise to put them to test!
Charles bridge’s legend:
One of the most known Prague legends is that one about Charles bridge that surely has an undeniable charm. Walking on it is one of the most beautiful strolls you will ever take especially if it’s early in the morning.
The legend says that Emperor Charles IV wanted to build a bridge that will hold for many years to come. He decided to consult an astrologer whose job was to find the best time to begin the construction. The Emperor thought that the universe, the stars, and all surroundings will have a direct impact on the bridge.
The astrologer studied the area, and the sky before reporting back to the Emperor. On July 1357 at 5.31 AM, the first stone was put into place. This bridge is still standing more than 600 years later. It has survived many floods and wars.
Is it the timing the astrologer chose that made this bridge durable and resilient? It’s a subject that is open for debate.
Nevertheless, Charles bridge is a wonder in itself, and wandering over it feels like magic!
These four Prague legends are only a tiny part of this city’s secret stories. There are hundreds of other legends that can fill a book. The iron man, the murdered nun, the silverfish…the list has no end.
Take a night walk in Prague, in the middle of the cobblestone streets, under the large lamps and you will get this weird feeling! You will become part of the magic, you will feel the myths and legends all around you. Stories of ghosts and long nights can be found in every corner of the city. Are they true or false?
You’re going to have to take that night walk, and decide for yourself!