Chalupa Daisy Posázaví: rekreační ubytování blízko Prahy

Ghosts of the Old Town, Quirky Alchemists and the Infamous Psychiatric Hospital – How to Experience Prague in a Unique Way

The capital of the Czech Republic attracts year-round tourists from all over the world. If you stay at our cottage Daisy, you will probably consider visiting Prague thanks to its proximity. But you may be wondering, what unique activities can I experience there? Is there anything else in the city besides the crowded courtyard of Prague Castle and the ”trdelník” stands? Well, there certainly is. And you can find tips for these experiences in our article. 

Travelling to Prague and Discovering Hidden Spots   

Since our cottage is located approximately 30 km from Prague, the journey to the capital will only take a short time. Specific details on transport methods, including parking tips, were discussed in detail in our previous article Going on a trip to Prague. You’ll also find there recommendations for our favourite restaurants and places of interest off the main tourist routes. 

In this article, we would like to focus on other activities to do in Prague, namely guided tours. Guided tours in Prague are no longer just about boring historical dates and descriptions of the architectural styles of the most famous buildings. So today we want to show you three of the most interesting tours you can experience in Prague.

Prague’s Ghosts and Legends – Do You Know What Places in the Old Town Hide the Darkest Secrets?

If you have visited Prague in the past, you may have noticed a crowd of people following a man with a black cap, hat and lantern in the evening. Without a doubt, it was a so-called ghost tour guide (although we also can’t deny that it wasn’t just enthusiasts with a refined dressing style 🙂 ). It is a popular tour among foreign tourists, which can be found not only in Prague, but also in other cities shrouded in ghosts and mysteries, such as York in England, Edinburgh in Scotland or New Orleans in the USA. On such a tour, you will encounter local tales and legends that have an element of the supernatural in them. A typical ”ghost tour” includes tales of ghosts and ghouls or legends of brutal murders and tragedies associated with the place. And since Prague is a thousand-year-old city, it hides many mysterious stories in its streets and corners. For the best choice for a ghost tour, we recommend the Ghosts & Legends of Old Town tour from McGee’s Ghost Tours. This company was the first to start ghost tours in Prague back in 2007 and their ghost tours have won many awards since then. Among other things, the tour is also currently ranked #1 among Prague ghost tours on Tripadvisor. We set out to test their tour as part of writing this article. 

The English tour takes place every day in the evening depending on the season, the German option is available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 pm. Taking the tour during the evening gives the city a completely different charm. The tour started behind the Týn Cathedral, and as the sun set we got a wonderful view of it from the meeting point. After some general introductions and information from our guide, we moved on to our first stop on the tour. 

Obviously, we don’t want to spoil the outcome of the individual stories, but we’ll give you a little sneak peek anyway. The tour led through the corners of the Old Town, approximately between the Jewish Quarter and Revoluční Street. Although this is a neighborhood right next to Old Town Square, we didn’t encounter many tourists. The surrounding buildings lit by yellow dimmed lamps, along with the unusual silence, added to the somber and tense atmosphere of the tour. Our guide engagingly told us the stories and legends associated with the place we were at. Although we had grown up in Prague, all of the stories were new to us, even though we were familiar with some of the characters such as Mydlář the executioner and Josef Mánes. Some of the legends gave us chills, such as the one about the ghostly appearance of a man in a bloody butcher’s apron during the night to patients at the St Francis Hospital or the one about the ghost haunting the St. Agnes Monastery. Others sparked our interest so much that we searched for more information about them ourselves after the tour. 

The whole ghost tour lasted 90 minutes, but all the stories were so exciting that it went by very quickly. We can definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to see Prague from a different perspective. Our guide was really great, he was willing to answer all our questions and always added his knowledge and experience to the interpretation, here and there he even lightened the atmosphere with a little joke. 

Evening Prague During the Time of Rudolf II – Alchemy, Esoterism and the Mysteries of Prague Castle

Although we promised to show you tours off the main tourist routes, this time we will make a small exception. While browsing the McGee’s Ghost Tours website when booking a previous ghost tour, we discovered that they conduct two more extraordinary tours worth checking out. So we went on another evening tour, this time called Alchemy & Mysteries of Prague Castle. As the name suggests, we headed to Prague Castle together with our guide. However, not by the classic route.

It all started at 7 pm at the same meeting place behind the Týn Cathedral. Out of the English and German options, we joined a group with an English speaking guide. Once again he was dressed in appropriate costume, this time in the form of a Renaissance beret and period gown. From there we moved across Old Town Square to Pařížská Street to the Old New Synagogue, where we heard the first story of the evening, the legend of the Golem and his secret hideout in the Old Town. From there, we walked across the Mánes Bridge, heard a little about the influence of astrology on the development of the city under Charles IV, and continued by tram to Hradčany. However, if you were expecting us to head immediately to the Castle, you would be mistaken. Instead, we were fully immersed in the story of the alchemists during the reign of Rudolf II as we wandered past Strahov Monastery, Czernin Palace, and Prague’s Loreto

The highlight of the whole tour was the walk through the New World. Not many tourists come across this forgotten alley, but it is one of the most charming places in Prague. From there, we went for a walk around the grounds of Prague Castle. After sunset, there were only a handful of tourists left and we had the most visited monument in the Czech Republic almost completely to ourselves! The atmosphere was completely different and we listened to the curiosities and lesser known facts about St. Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Castle complex itself. We also visited the empty Golden Lane, and learned the fate of all the alchemists who accompanied us on our journey.

Together we enjoyed a three-hour evening full of magic and mystery, and thanks to a small group we had the opportunity to get to know the other tourists who took the tour with us.

The History of the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital and the Development of Psychiatry in the Czech Republic and in the World

The last tour in McGee’s Ghost Tours offer is the Psychiatric Hospital & Abandoned Cemetry tour, which focuses on the Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital. During the three-hour walk, we explored the outdoor areas of the hospital’s vast grounds and learned all about its development from the construction of the facility to its current operations. There was also, information about the history of psychiatry itself, from the Middle Ages to cruel treatment methods such as lobotomy in the recent past. About halfway through, we took a short break in the café located right on the premises of the treatment facility, where the patients work and whom this activity helps to return more easily to normal life. Towards the end we also stopped at another therapeutic area of the hospital, the animal farm

After a tour of the exterior of the hospital, we took a 20-minute walk to the nearby abandoned cemetery. It served as a burial ground in the past, when Bohnice was known as an asylum for the mentally ill. The cemetery is not open to the public, but just at its locked entrance you can feel the gloomy and tense atmosphere that made it popular with paranormal investigators. There are several stories and legends about the cemetery, one of which is that Gavrilo Princip, the man who assassinated Franz Ferdinand d’Este and started the First World War, is buried there. 

Although Bohnice is generally well known in the Czech Republic, not many people know much about its history and operation. This tour gave us a completely different perspective on the field of psychiatry and proved to us that going on a guided tour in Prague does not necessarily mean getting bored with the endless interpretation of historical facts. 

How to Escape the Tourist Crowds in Prague

What we enjoyed most about all three of McGee’s Ghost Tours was not only the interesting themes of the tours, but also the fact that we didn’t have to push through the crowds of other tourists along the way. With the start of the holiday season, Prague will be filled with visitors from abroad. If you’re not a fan of mass tourism, but would still like to see at least a little bit of Prague during your stay at our Daisy cottage, we recommend booking one of these experiences.

If you decide to try one of the tours, be sure to share your experience with us and tag us on Facebook or Instagram!