Welcome to Central Europe! The Czech Republic (aka Czechia) is the beautiful neighbour to Austria, Germany, and Poland. The Czech Republic is known for its stunning castles, unique culture, beer and so much more. Keep on reading to see all the interesting facts about the Czech Republic we have up our sleeve.
But before you go, here's my quick top picks in the Czech Republic:
1. The Czech Republic is one of the safest countries in the world
Crime rates are very low in the Czech Republic! There’s also a stable social security system and a good quality of life throughout the country. Plus, in our experience, the locals are friendly and relaxed. But, let’s dig into the bigger picture!
Fun fact! The Czech Republic is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. In the 2021 Global Peace Index (GPI), the Czech Republic jumped up to number 9 with an excellent score of 1.329.
Basically, the Czech Republic is so safe because it has stable relations with its neighbours, gives plenty of money to the UN, and is pretty economically stable. If you're thinking of solo travelling, the Czech Republic is one of your safest choices!
2. Does the Czech Republic have a national dish?
One interesting thing about the Czech Republic is that they technically have no named national dish. But if you were to ask the locals, “Vepřo Knedlo Zelo” (Pork, Dumplings and Sauerkraut) would probably be the top choice. The traditional meat-based meal certainly is filling!
3. And the most famous person from the Czech Republic is...
...Well, it’s a tough choice! The Czech Republic is full of interesting people throughout its history. The artist Franz Kafka, model and writer Paulina Porizkova, and the now retired football player Pavel Nedvěd. We’re sure you’ve heard some of these names already! There’s more famous people from the Czech Republic you already know too. Sigmund Freud, the famous psychoanalyst, was even born in Příbor in the Czech Republic.
4. The Czech Republic is beer paradise!
No, really. We have statistics to back it up. According to Kirin Beer University (from the Japanese brewery of Kirin), the Czech Republic drinks the most beer in the world! Ever since 1993, the Czech Republic has topped the charts as the beer lover of the world.
But what is the best beer in the Czech Republic?
The best beer in the Czech Republic is probably Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrovaný. Ranked #1 in the country according to RateBeer.com, Pilsner Urquell Nefiltrovaný is an unfiltered and crisp beer. The beer is only available in Plzen at Na Parkanu and at other pubs on special occasions! In general, the Pilsner brewery produces some of the most popular beers in the country and all are worth a try.
5. Prague is home to the 2nd ugliest building in the whole world
Prague itself is a totally beautiful city. It’s just the Žižkov Television Tower that really stands out like a sore pimple! It towers over the Zizkov district in all its ugly glory. Get up close to the tower and you’ll even see weird baby sculptures climbing up the tower. Yeah, that’s a thing.
Built in the 80s, the Žižkov Television Tower stands at 700ft high. There’s an observation deck about 300ft up where you’ll get much nicer views of the city!
One interesting fact about Prague and this tower that most don’t know is that the baby sculptures actually have barcodes on. The sculptures were a later addition to the tower by artist David Černý, probably as an artistic statement against the communist state that once controlled this city.
6. Prague Castle is the biggest castle in the world, kinda.
Prague Castle is definitely the biggest castle in the world according to the Guiness Book of World Records at nearly 70,000 square metres large! So it’s the biggest castle complex with its winding streets and beautiful architecture. But, technically, Malbork Castle in Poland is the biggest castle in the world by land area. Still, Prague Castle ranks as one of the biggest castles in the world and is not to be missed!
7. Prague’s Astronomical Clock is cursed. Or so the legend says...
The Astronomical Clock of Prague is the oldest astronomical clock still working today. Known for its beauty, this clock has a darker story behind its face too! The legend goes that the clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň, after completing the astronomical clock, got lots of offers from other countries to make clocks for them.
The council members of Prague heard about this, though, and they really didn’t like it. They didn’t want anyone else to have a beautiful clock to rival theirs. To ensure that no other clock was made like it, they burned Mikuláš' eyes. But Mikuláš of Kadaň wanted revenge and he knew just how to get it. He threw himself into the gears of his own creation, destroying his life and the clock forever. The legend goes that anyone who dares to fix the clock will have their minds broken too.
Here’s an interesting fact, though. The council member’s plan didn’t actually work. There’s actually a replica of the Prague astronomical clock at Castle Praha in Hongdae, South Korea.
8. King Charles IV was really superstitious
The first stone of Charles Bridge in Prague was set on the 9th July 1357 at 5:31 am by King Charles IV himself. Why? Because the King was super into numerology. He picked this exact time because of how it looks when it is written out like so 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1 (year, day, month, then time). It reads the same backwards and forwards. A perfect structure for a bridge! He believed that this numerical wonder would embed Charles Bridge with additional strength.
9. Hitler might’ve been planning to preserve Prague’s Jewish Quarter
By far, this is one of the darker, but still interesting, facts about Prague on our list. Many people believe the legend that Hitler planned to preserve the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) of Prague to create a museum to the “Extinct Race”. Yikes. No one is absolutely sure that the legend is true, but considering that the Jewish Quarter was never demolished by the Nazis we can see why so many believe it.
But here’s a part of the story you might not have known. It is a fact that many artifacts were moved to Prague and that the Nazis did open a museum. Dr. Karel Stein, a leader in the Jewish community, proposed the idea of making a central museum on Jewish culture to save Jewish artifacts from being destroyed. The Central Jewish Museum was opened in 1942 and was only ever open to Nazi members. Things didn’t go according to Stein’s plan, though, and the museum staff was sadly sent off to concentration camps about 2 years after the museum opened.
10. The Haunting of Prague’s Charles Bridge
There are many spooky tales about Charles Bridge, but perhaps the most well-known legend is that of the 27 noblemen. The story goes that 27 noblemen were executed in the Old Town Square after joining an uprising. 12 of their heads were displayed atop Charles Bridge. The story goes that they still march across Charles Bridge every year to the Old Town Square…
Find even more of the most haunted places in the Czech Republic here.
11. The narrowest street in Prague is 50cm!
The narrowest street in Prague is Vinarna Certovka at 50cm wide (20 inches). The street can be found close to Charles Bridge between a few houses off of U Lužického semináře street. Only 10m long, the street is actually more of a staircase that connects to a restaurant. It’s a bit claustrophobic! But there is the traffic light to help out. Simply push the button as you would on a regular street as there just isn’t enough room for two people to walk in this crossing. Some people do just ignore the lights, though, so be prepared to do an awkward backwards shuffle.
12. Prague has tons of nicknames
Thanks to mathematician Bernhard Bolzano, Prague is forever known as the “City of Spires” due to its over 100 towers and spires. Prague has also been called the “City of 100 Towers” and “The Rooftop of Europe”. All good nicknames, but Bolzano’s does seem more catchy. Another nickname you might have heard is “The Golden City”. Prague isn’t really known for gold - this nickname actually refers to its golden rooftops at night.
Did you know that Prague is also “The Heart of Europe”? You might think it’s because of its central location in Europe and you’d be correct, but there’s another detail. The North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Adriatic Sea are all the same distance from Prague. It really is the central heart from the oceans.
13. Czech is one of the most difficult languages to learn
Yes! According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the United States, Czech is one of the hardest languages to learn. The FSI teaches languages to diplomats, so keep in mind that English is their first language. If your first language is Polish or Russian, for example, Czech will be easier to handle. Czech has a very different structure than what English speakers are used to.
14. Prague is home to one of Europe’s oldest universities
Say hi to Charles University in Prague! Founded in 1348, Charles University is one the oldest universities in the Czech Republic and one of the oldest universities in Europe. Charles University is ranked at number 266 in the world according to the QS Global World Rankings and number 4 in Emerging Europe and Central Asia, making it the top ranked university in the country. Masaryk University in Brno, the second biggest university in the country, is a rising second place.
15. Cesky Krumlov is the 2nd most visited destination in the Czech Republic
Ceský Krumlov is known for being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Tucked away in Southern Bohemia, Ceský Krumlov is the jewel of the Czech Republic. Prague is the most visited city in the country, but tourists often make time for a day trip to Ceský Krumlov. It’s estimated that Ceský Krumlov gets around 1.5 million visitors every year.
16. Havirov is the most affordable city to live in the Czech Republic
You probably already know that Prague is the most expensive city to live in here, but no one ever tells you the most affordable option! So, here’s a fact you probably didn’t know before. The average cost of living in Havirov is around 636.65€ or 736$ a month. Nestled into the eastern side of the Czech Republic, this city is actually the youngest city in the Czech Republic as it was founded just after World War II.
17. Mushroom picking is an important part of Czech culture
It might sound unbelievable, but the average Czech family actually picks about 17.6 pounds (8 kilos) of mushrooms every year.
Go out to the national parks and forests and don’t be surprised if you see a local picking up a mushroom or two. It’s totally legal and mushrooms aren’t even taxed. Mushrooms play an important part in Czech cuisine including smaženice and staple dishes like stews and soups as the “meat of the poor”. Some Czechs like to wait a day or so after it has rained to go picking.
Not all mushrooms are meant to be hunted down! There are 35 kinds of edible mushrooms available in the Czech Republic, but there are poisonous mushrooms in its forests as well so be careful. Mushrooms such as Porchini, Boletus Edulis, and Hribek are among the most popular mushrooms to pick in the Czech Republic as they are the easiest to find.
Want a guide to mushroom picking in the Czech Republic? Check out our insider guide here to forage for your own mushrooms.
18. Ice hockey reigns as the King of Sports in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic joined the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1908 and never looked back! The men’s national ice hockey team is one the top ranking ice hockey teams in the world. The Czech Republic is listed alongside other members of the so-called “Big Six” in hockey (Russia, Sweden, Canada, Finland, and the USA). Their historical success in ice hockey is a source of national pride to Czechs and the sport is perhaps the most popular sport in the country alongside tennis. Since 2012, however, the Czech Republic has not won a medal in any IIHF tournament, and we’re sure the Czech locals are eager to rise to the top once more! Go to any sports bar to watch the games of the national ice hockey team and you’ll be in for a fun time.
19. Don’t forget about tennis!
We mean it when we say ice hockey is King. The sport tends to be more male dominated. Tennis is the other much beloved sport in this country and has a mix of men and women amongst its top ranked players. In our opinion, The Prague Open is one of the best all-women tennis tournaments to watch with a $250,000 (216,211.25€) bag of prize money up for grabs in 2021.
The Czech Republic has produced some of the most memorable tennis players of all time, including the now retired Tomáš Berdych who became a star and caused uproar in the 2010 Wimbledon Championships by defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic - two of the best tennis players in the world. Petra Kvitová is perhaps the most well-known female tennis player from the Czech Republic for winning 28 single titles including 2 Grand Slams so far in her career.
20. Prague is one of the best cities for expats
When we’re giving you facts about Prague, we’d be silly to miss out on the actual people of this city. Around 460,000 live in the Czech Republic, with 166,000 making their home in Prague. But is Prague a good city to choose for an expat?
According to the Internations Expat Inside 2021 survey, the Czech Republic is the 15th best country in the world for expats. It ranks highly for quality of life and work, but the Czech Republic isn’t perfect and the language barrier is the major obstacle many expats face. But if you can overcome that and the occasional unfriendly local, the Czech Republic is a solid choice for any expat.
21. The Czech Republic has a super low unemployment rate
We’ll give you three guesses! Yes. Until recently, the Czech Republic actually had the lowest unemployment rate in Europe at 2.8%. The pandemic has impacted things and the Czech Republic has lost its spot in 2021 as the rate rose of 3.4%. The Czech Republic still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, though!
Now you know all these interesting facts about the Czech Republic, surely you want to visit? Check out our map for loads of things to do in Prague and Czech Republic.