Behind a gothic portal and ornate metal gates lies one of the oldest churches in Malá Strana; built around 1250 by the Knights of Malta, a still-extant aristocratic club that can be traced as far back as 1099. It has never been easy to become a member of this exclusive organization, as applicants have to prove that they are descended from at least sixteen noble ancestors. In addition to providing care for the sick, the ancient Knights spent their time crusading against heretics and, apparently, acquiring land because a good chunk of Malá Strana (and some important buildings in Old Town) are still owned by them. The Knights’ substantial real estate holdings were nationalized by the communists then returned afterRead more.

This church is revered in the Italian- and Spanish-speaking worlds thanks to a peewee-sized baby Jesus doll known as Il Bambino di Praga. The 400 year-old wax figure was gifted to the church by Polyxena of Lobkowicz, a devout Spaniard who married into the local Catholic aristocracy. Years later, when the church’s nuns were spared of an 18th-century plague that ravaged Prague, they deemed it a miracle and credited the statue. The Infant Jesus has been answering prayers ever since, as evidenced by the numerous plaques claiming phenomena big and small that hang throughout the church. The most bizarre characteristic of the Bambino is its dress collection, which includes dozens of ornate little frocks that have been presented as giftsRead more.

Throughout summer, this landmark crossing can get so choked with pedestrians that many locals prefer to take alternative routes across the river. But not us. Despite plenty of griping, we’re in love with Charles Bridge. A walk across is a swoony stroll through a four-dimensional picture postcard; the fourth dimension being time. King Charles IV ordered this bridge to be built and, heeding court astrologers’ recommendations, the foundation stone was laid at 5:31 on the morning of July 9, 1357, a time that was considered auspicious because it corresponds to the numerical palindrome 1357 9.7 5:3.1. In the Middle Ages, people believed that truth and divinity could be deciphered from the orderliness of the heavens, which, according to the oldRead more.