Wheelchair Accessible Prague & the Czech Republic 2010
 By Stephen & Phitchaya Jeffery © 2010

Introduction

Stephen & Phitchaya Jeffery on Vysehrad

Stephen & Phitchaya Jeffery on Vysehrad

When we started to think about Prague for our next trip I was looking at comments by travelers on the net (not disabled sites). There were a  number with negative comments, some even saying that a weekend was enough to see it all. Now, after our trip, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. We stayed almost two weeks. Prague, as well as the country towns we visited, were truly beautiful and some of the most impressive and well preserved  we have yet visited in Europe.

Before I describe the highlights of our trip I need to give credit to the what made our trip such a success. Lea Skanderova of ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL in Prague arranged airport transfers (in disabled van with rear lift), hotel selection, tours in Prague and transport plus tours to towns in the Czech country. Without her planning, and acting as a guide for us throughout, we would have simply missed most of the highlights. Her knowledge even extended to the basic, but still important things, such as disabled toilets and she new them all on our trips within Prague and also in the country towns we went to. She has a degree in history which meant her guided tours were much more than the normal “guides” seem to offer.

Wheelchair Issues

Behind Prague Castle

Behind Prague Castle

Prague is a city where almost all the central tourist areas are paved with small granite, relatively flat topped, stones about 5cm square. In some roadways there are also large bluestone pavers. The good news is that at most of the road crossings the kerbs have a sloping surface between the footpath and the road. I use a manual wheelchair which has inflated mountain bike type tyres on the rear wheels and this made pushing over these surfaces much less bouncy. Throughout all our trip I was able to push myself with only limited assistance from my wife if things got too steep.

We flew Austrian airlines and they had my wheelchair at the plane door every time we stopped, so I never had the problem of my chair going through baggage handling systems and being damaged.

Hotel

Lea gave us a choice of four hotels and supplied interior photos to assist our selection. We stayed at Hotel Barcelo Old Town. The disabled room they have is actually a two-room suite. The bathroom has a roll-in shower (actually a completely open part of the bathroom) with seat, and the toilet has fold down rails each side. It is a relatively new renovation of an old building and is perfectly situated in the middle of  Old Town, with a pedestrian-only street starting at the front door.



 

Powder Tower

Powder Tower

Prague
On some of the days we pushed around Prague ourselves using our hotel map. Restaurants of every cuisine and cost are everywhere in Prague and many have chalkboard lunch menus out for lunch.

The first tour we did was to Lesser town and Prague Castle. This is located on a high hill in Prague. We initially went by accessible tram. Not all trams are accessible. Lea arranged tickets and selected the appropriate tram, which took us up to Lesser Town, which had all well preserved buildings. On the way through Lesser Town we visited an excellent art gallery with very modern lifts and interior renovation, within the old building framework. Prague castle has a very impressive interior on a grand scale. Vadislav hall adjacent is also a must see.

We finished by pushing down through the castle gardens to the tram point.

Jewish Town was a half-day trip and included  the Jewish graveyard which is packed with headstones etc very close together, in a very random fashion. This was because the bodies are buried about nine deep in layers. Other churches and synagogues were also visited including the Spanish synagogue. Some of these had disabled person climbing platforms on the stairs and Lea organized operation. One church near our hotel, which had we been alone we would have walked straight past, due to its unimpressive exterior. Lea however took us in and it contained some of the most amazing Baroque architecture I have seen.

Stephen Jeffery

Stephen Jeffery
on Charles Bridge

 

 

Vysehrad

This is a large hill which has old buildings, church, parts of the original fortification walls of Prague, beautiful gardens  and an excellent view over all of Prague as you walk around the entire perimeter. Lea arranged this trip by going to an underground Metro station that had lift access and we went via train to this location. When on the platform there was a slight difference in level to the train and a gap to cross. I managed to jump across this but if you had a heavy motorized chair the gap may be too wide. We finished this tour, after another train trip, at Wenceslas square and pushed down through New Town. The imposing national museum is at this location.

Kutna Hora

With the following three day trips we had the option of a wheelchair accessible van with rear lift. After using this from the airport I found it to restrict my view a bit. I normally travel in an ordinary car using my sliding board to move sideways from my chair to the front seat of a car. We, therefore, chose a normal car for all our trips into the country, and covered about 1000km.  (This car choice would of course not work with motorized chair).

This town is very well preserved and relatively small.  However Lea took us to the edge of the town, which has an amazing cathedral, surrounding buildings and parts of old fortification walls. The small road leading to this Cathedral has statues along its length, similar in scale to Charles bridge in Prague.

Cathedral Kutna Hora

Cathedral Kutna Hora

 

Terezin and Litomeric

Terezin is a WWII concentration camp. We were told it was probably the last stop before going to places like Auswich.  The camp is very well preserved and quite an education to go right through it. The nearby town of Litomeric is built around a town square, as with most of these towns. The views of the surrounding town, etc. seen by going down the small roads off the square are very nice.

Karlovy Vary and Locket

Karlovy Vary is in the hills north of Prague. It is a beautiful town with a strong Russian influence and ownership. Restaurant waiters commonly speak Russian. Throughout the town there are many hot water springs. The tradition is to buy a small porcelain cup with a spout (like a teapot) and go around and taste each spring. They are all labeled and also give the temperature (up to 70 centigrade). They all have very different tastes. The actual town is easy to push around even though the area is very hilly. Locket is a small nearby town with a hill at its central point topped with a very old castle. It is a very impressive view driving through the densely treed approach road in the hills, then coming upon this castle.

Loket castle

Loket castle

 

Pisek, Hluboba and Tabor

This trip is south of Prague and about a 300km roundtrip. At Hluboba there is a medieval castle set in beautiful gardens. Unfortunately you can only tour the castle in guided groups. Before visiting it is a worthwhile to check tour times and language of the tour. Tabor was the best town on this day trip. When arriving at the town of Tabor and driving off the highway, the first part you see is just a typical country town but in the middle is the old town square and walking street, with impressive preserved architecture and buildings. This town, as with most we found, has a disabled persons toilet which in this case was well signposted off the main square and even had a stair climbing platform down to basement toilet.

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