Visit Prague for a spooky Halloween trip

A sea of ​​spiers emerging from austere Gothic architecture accentuated by abrupt, monochromatic brutalist building blocks. Historical links with the occult, alchemy and the dark arts. A brutal communist past and a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Europe. For a weird place to spend Halloween, few cities can match the pedigree of Prague, Czech Republic.

In the Old Town district, you can explore the mystique of old buildings and alleyways that can quickly turn into spooky moonlit photo opportunities. Listen to the eerie sounds of the chimes and follow them around the main square to find Prague’s Astronomical Clock. This early 15th-century mechanical marvel, the world’s oldest surviving automaton of its type, is adorned with several mechanisms detailing the time of year, phases of the moon, position of the sun in the zodiac, and d other colored elements. cosmic detail. Be sure to catch when the watch statues come to life and dance across the dials during the Hourly Walk of the Apostles. Death, represented by a skeleton to the side, menacingly brandishes an hourglass and solemnly tolls the death knell during the performance, as if to remind viewers of the impermanence of life.

The old town has a vast assortment of mystifying museums to fill the daylight hours. The Museum of Fantastic Illusions has an entertaining, Instagrammable collection of perspective tricks, and the Museum of Illusion Art has plenty of dazzling interactive exhibits with deceptive art. Learn about the Nuremberg Madonna and the Witch’s Chair at the Museum of Medieval Instruments of Torture, or take a trip through the eerie valley into the forest of unsettling wax figures at nearby Madame Tussauds. Finally, the Museum Of Sex Machines is an essential stop. Browse the gallery of naughty gear ranging from dodgy to downright painful as a sexy sax melody hilariously plays through the multiple floors of the outrageous museum.

For a taste of Prague’s associations with the dark arts, check out Speculum Alchemiae, the former laboratory of occult friend Emperor Rudolf II. Hidden below the surface until rediscovered following a flood in 2002, the museum offers many vitality-boosting elixirs for sale and is also the starting point for the Magical Triangle Tour, which explores famous pagan ritual sites. Stops include the eerie hilltop fortress Vysehrad and the sprawling Prague Castle, the largest such ancient palace in the world. Hidden alchemical laboratories aren’t the only secret under the streets of Prague. Consider one of the fascinating underground excursions, such as the Ghosts, Legends, & Dungeon tour. Learn about mythical Czech characters like the Golem and the Headless Templar as you immerse yourself in centuries-old haunted dungeons beneath the roads of the Old Town. The Communism & Nuclear Bunker Tour promises a memorable macabre experience, where visitors will journey four floors underground in a real former nuclear bunker. The unsettling space, originally built to house 5,000 people in the event of an apocalyptic attack, is complemented by a dark stockpile of gas masks and chilling Cold War paraphernalia, indicative of the once pervasive atmosphere of fear on the east side of the Iron Curtain.


Before leaving the old town, take a short detour to the Basilica of Saint James. Admiring the ornate rounded ceiling and fascinating architecture, you might be surprised to notice the four-hundred-year-old severed arm hanging casually from above. Legend has it that the decomposed limb once belonged to someone trying to steal jewelry from a statue of the Virgin Mary and has served as a warning to other would-be thieves ever since.

On the other side of the Charles Bridge, built in the 15th century and offering incredible views of the Vltava River, is the Mala Strana district. Enjoy the pleasant greenery in the gardens of Wallenstein Palace and count the number of faces you see in the Dripstone Wall, an intricate stone surface that looks like a cascade of skulls from a distance. Prague was the birthplace of author Franz Kafka, known for his disturbing and nightmarish stories, and fans should check out the Franz Kafka Museum. True to the author’s works, visitors can expect surreal art installations and haunting music as they explore the atmospheric, dimly lit museum. The famous alchemist Edward Kelley also lived in Mala Strana, and his former residence now occupies the Museum of Alchemists and Magicians in Old Prague. In a fun carnival atmosphere, see the museum’s replicas of alchemical scenes and occult-era instruments, and climb the weathered staircase of Kelley’s Laboratory for sweeping views of Prague’s ubiquitous spiers.

Any worthwhile haunted city has a graveyard or two worth exploring, and Prague is no exception. In the Old City, few cemeteries are as unique as the Old Jewish Cemetery. The relatively small plot is distinguished by its density due to customs against the removal of old tombstones. More than 12,000 graves cover virtually every square meter of land, unfolding from every angle and forming spooky scenes under the calmly swaying trees watching over the remains of 100,000 bodies, some of which are stacked 12 deep. The Olsany Cemetery in the Zizkov district is also notable as the largest cemetery in Prague. Originally created to house the remains of plague victims considered dangerous to bury within the city limits, the cemetery is known for its beautiful Art Nouveau monuments and as the resting place of many famous Czechs like Jan Palach, a student who set himself on fire to protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

The former Czechoslovakia was a communist country until the early 1990s with an often bloody past, and the closeness to that era and the art it inspired gives a unique spin on terror that’s well worth watching. lived in the Czech capital. Check out the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, a harrowing series of anguished, naked figures on a staircase in Mala Strana that become increasingly distorted and disturbed deeper into the installation. Mala Strana also has the KGB Museum, containing an array of relics and weapons from the infamous Soviet organization, and the old town offers a sobering look at recent history among the propaganda posters of the Museum of Communism . In the Holesovice district, just north of the Old Town, next to the idyllic greenery of Letna Park, Prague’s enormous metronome beats steadily by the river. Once the site of a giant statue of Stalin, the metronome serves as a powerful reminder of those not-so-distant times alongside pleasant views of the Vltava.

If you need a look back at dark medieval and Cold War history, head to the Cross Club in Holesovice. The trendy multi-story hotspot, decorated in an industrial steampunk style, includes a cafe and restaurant in addition to a lively dance floor. Cross Club is also a notable meeting place for activism and frequently hosts cultural events such as theater productions, alternative film screenings and book readings. Another fantastic option for the evening is Karlovy Lazne, a five-storey nightclub just off Charles Bridge and the largest of its kind in Central Europe. Each level of the former 14th-century bathhouse offers an entirely different genre of music, so if the world of sounds on one floor isn’t your thing, it’s easy enough to walk down one staircase and immerse yourself in another. . Don’t miss the Ice Pub downstairs, where the temperature is kept at minus 7 degrees Celsius. Book one of the 30-minute time slots, don the provided thermal jacket and gloves, and enjoy a selection of cold-themed cocktails in a room where all the decor, including seats and glasses, is made of ice .

Finally, if you have the time and resources to do so, consider a one-hour day trip to the gruesome Sedlec Ossuary, also known as the “Church of Bones.” Estimated to hold the remains of 40,000 to 70,000 people, the spooky chapel has several macabre arrangements of bones, eerie skull towers and a skeletal masterpiece in the extravagant chandelier containing all the bones of the human body. Whether it’s Halloween or not, this will end your Prague adventure on a perfectly spooky note.

John Sizemore is a travel writer, photographer, yoga teacher, and visual entertainment developer based in Austin, Texas. Follow him on Instagram at @sizemoves. In his spare time, John enjoys learning foreign languages ​​and immersing himself in other worlds, especially those of music, movies, games and books, in addition to exploring the world.

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