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Things to Do in Prague - page 5

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Konopiste Castle (Konopiste Chateau)
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10 Tours and Activities
Built in the 13th century, the Konopiště Chateau was originally built in the Early Gothic era on the model of a French castellum near Prague. Renaissance and Baroque reconstruction changed the castle into a grand stately home. At the end of the 19th century Konopiště Chateau was refurbished in the Romantic style for Franz Ferdinand d'Este, successor to the Habsburg throne, and famous for his death in 1914 which acted as a pretext for the start of WWI.

The chateau offers a fine display of furniture, drape tapestries, sculptures, paintings and a cornucopia of hunting trophies. There is also a baroque rose garden and a greenhouse.

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Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad)
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Karlovy Vary (also known as Carlsbad) is a charming spa town about a 2 hours west of Prague, all higgledy-piggledy Art Nouveau buildings and wealthy Russian tourists. Legend has it that Charles IV discovered the spring while out hunting with his dogs and founded the town - hence the name.

It enjoyed a vogue in the 19th century, when all manner of fashionable folk (including Beethoven and Chopin) rolled up to take the medicinal waters. You can still take a number of treatments here, including drinking the whiffy waters of the springs, but most Western visitors prefer to try out Becherovka, the town's signature herbal liqueur.

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Nizbor Glass Factory (Rückl Crystal)
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Located less than an hour outside of Prague, the Nizbor Glass Factory is home to Rückl Crystal. This factory carries on the tradition of making high quality Czech glass and crystal, originally known as Bohemian crystal. All stages of production are carried out here, including glass blowing, painting, crackling, and cutting. The Nizbor Glass Factory has an extensive range of cut 24% lead crystal products. Just a few of the things they produce are champagne glasses, bowls, plates, vases, perfume bottles, and lamps.

Though much of their crystal stays in the Czech Republic, many items are exported to the USA, Japan, Singapore, and several other parts of the world. A portion of the factory is open to tours where visitors can learn all about the 300 year old tradition of Bohemian glass and crystal making. There is also a gift shop where you can purchase some of their beautiful crystal to take home.

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Jan Becher Museum
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The Becherovka Museum, less than two hours west of Prague, is home to one of the Czech Republic's most beloved liquors, called Becherovka. At the museum, visitors can learn about the liquor as well as tour the distillery and the original cellars. While you're there, you can also taste this liquor that has been produced for centuries. It is made from Karlsbad water, alcohol, sugar, and a mixture of herbs and spices, although the exact recipe is said to be known by only two people today.

The company was founded over two centuries ago by Jan Becher, who came up with the recipe in a pharmacy that is now the museum. A visit to the museum also allows visitors to learn about the history of the company's beginnings and how the liquor survived during the communist regime when the company was forced to hand over the recipe.

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Marianske Lazne (Marienbad)
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This spa town located about 150 kilometers from Prague is one of the nation’s most favored getaways. With a near perfect climate, panoramic mountain views, stunning architecture and lush gardens, Marianske Lanze is the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend or plan for a day-trip escape.

Though the spas are Marianske Lazne's main draw, there are many other reasons worth visiting. Travelers can explore the tiny Dion E Chopin museum or wander through quaint roads lined by numerous coffee houses and turn-of-the-century apartments. An annual festival paying homage to the Polish composer Chopin takes place each August, and visitors who make the trek to Marianske Lanze in June can enjoy the classical music festival this spa town has become famous for. And because no trip to this relaxing respite is complete without a visit to the spa, most hotels provide a wide range of services to meet the pampering needs of most any guest.

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