The highways in Prague are convenient and uncomplicated. However, the city streets (one-way or splitting directions) remind me of a shape-shifting labyrinth that often leads a newcomer off course. Before long, I was thrilled with the location of my neighborhood! Whenever I got lost, all I had to say or look for was one word: ZOO (if you say it or write it, people will understand).
Yes, Troja is a gem. Most Prague visitors will not have a chance to visit Troja because it is tuck away in the northwest region of Prague. Yet, the neighborhood has some distinct attractions that I believe are worth exploring. For starters, the neighborhood gets its name from the regal Troja castle. This stunning estate was built in baroque style by the renowned French architect and builder Jean Baptiste Mathey (1679 to 1691). Mathey was born in Dijon, Burgundy and this is only relevant because our paths will cross again later. Count Sternberg owned the estate and resided within its walls mainly during the summer months. Since then, the estate has had a number of owners and now it is owned by the city of Prague.
The interior of the castle is notable with exhibits from the Prague Municipal Gallery, unique frescoes and chandeliers. However, its glory rests throughout the exterior gardens. The hedges are exceptionally beautiful as they are trimmed with precision while forming an intricate maze. Central to this grandeur is an imposing outdoor staircase where gods and Titans combat an invisible battle. Thus, a promenade throughout the gardens in bloom during late spring and summer is a must.
Troja has also other attractions that deserve exploration. When exiting the castle’s main entrance, an easy stroll will lead visitors to the Praha Zoo which is always a delight especially for children. If instead, one wishes to ascend toward the hills then, everyone will be welcomed by an amazing view of the region via the botanical gardens and vineyards.
If instead, visitors decide to exit toward the river, a bridge is available to cross the river Vltava. Once on the other bank, the riding school is on the left and straight on is the Stromvka Park. This old park grants everyone an opportunity to enjoy an array of trees, flowers, and ponds. It also offers different paths for cycling, rollerblading, and walking. In addition, along the river Vltava there are other leisure opportunities such as clay tennis courts and a kayaking school.
Around the castle and Zoo, there are smaller cafés that offer standard dishes, ice-cream and desserts. Yet, my personal favorite is the “Ristorante & Pizzeria Del Corso.” Their brick oven pizzas are delicious.
Troja is only about 20 minutes from the city center by tram or by bus/subway combination. Yet, if time allows, I highly recommend returning to the city by boat ride from the Zoo to Rašínovo nábřeží (in the city center). It is a peaceful and scenic way to end the day.