A brief look into the presence and history of weather, weather measuring and weather influenced history of the Czech capital – with a few hints on the positives of the different seasons for visiting. The decision about which season to choose for a visit of a city or area might be essential for the general and final impression you will bring home from your trip. This article shall help you decide which season might suit you best in terms of temperature and weather conditions, and how the wheather has influenced the city evolution and life till nowadays. Although there are some terms principally accepted as the best – such as May or September, we will further show you, that even other and unusual months might bring a special optic into seeing – and feeling – the city of Prague.
Frost, heat and the scale inbetween
Central Europe is situated in the mild climate zone and characterised by 4 seasons – springs, which are changeable from very cold seasons to those reminding rather of summers, usually quite hot summers, cold and wet autumns and snowy and freezing winters. Although this changes in the last years, mainly due to the influences of the global warming, the principles remain.
Late springs with temperatures around 20 degrees of Celsius are usually considered as ideal for city touring – if you add also the beauties of the blossoming nature, there are mostly pros for your visit. On the other hand – everybody thinks the same way and Prague is usually full of people like you, so that at the end, the whole paradigma might not work ideally.
Summer – when hot – 30 degrees of Celsius and more– might be a demanding period, as dragging your body loaded with bottles of water through the heated streets is not an ideal citysigtseeing notion, too. Topped with the changes inbetween the air-conditioned restaurants, hotels, stores and the sun blazed streets, the sightseeing becomes a sort of struggle for your health. Not to mention crowds of young people from all over the world, settled in each possible shadowy corner … But for those who do not mind hot weather, summer brings also activities you might be longing for: bathing, paddling, zorbing, waterboarding on the Vltava river are great summer passtimes! Or just lying on one of the artificial sand beaches along the river, drinking your favourite cocktail and observing the life around…
The autumn might be considered as a favourable season, too – it is neither very cold nor hot, but can be occasionally accompanied by a lot of rainfall. Ideal for those visitors, who like to combine the outer and inner spaces of the city treasures – museums, galleries etc.
Winter is usually not considered as the best time for a city trip, but it is highly recommended for those, who prefer peace and stillness – the streets of Prague are not so full as in other seasons, and if you dress warm enough, you can feel the old and almost fogotten atmosphere you came for! The morning frosts above the Vltava river are a look like from a fairytale, and getting a warm spicy wine after a walk through the freezing city is an experience you will not forget…
Weather and Prague
The clima – or rather microclima – and the historical development of a place are closely related notions. It was a favourable coincidence of various natural elements that gave birth to a settlement along the Vltava river in the prehistoric times: the sufficience of drinking water, the mildness of the slopes turned against the southern sun, affording a good view over the river plate, the frequency of rainfalls and an effective protection from the cold northern and eastern winter winds due to the highlands around – it was really one of the best places in the country to construct a city. And the microclima of Prague remained – although there were many periods of little ice ages and warmer times within the history of the city -the warmest in the whole country even long before it has been influenced by the density of the modern asphalt and concrete surfaces. The average year temperature in Prague is usually higher then in the rest of the country – in the many years measuring average, it is 8,2 degrees of Celsius for Prague and 7,5 degrees of Celsius for the whole state. With the global warming, the difference is even rising – in 2020, the average Prague temperature was 9,9, while it was 9,1 for the country – almost a degree difference!
Weather and history
Little is known about the weather in the distant history – only exceptional elements such as a devastating drought or floods were recorded in chronicles, religious archives or letters of concerned individuals – such as aristocrats striving to feed their subjects in times of crop failure. But the temporary changes in climate and weather might have been of much higher historical importance then we think. The medieval Prague of the times of Charles IV. lived in a very stable climatic period, which ensured excess of food and consequently adequate labour force to build all the edifices we admire till our days. Charles IV. was a lucky man – unlike his son Wenceslas IV., whose reign was accompanied alternately by droughts, very cold and barren summers with little crop, or floods. And hussites. Some historic theories say that the revolutionary movement was closely related to the insufficience of nourishment and the desire of the poorest to fill in their bellies – including their so called „graceful rides“ abroad, which were in fact plundering expeditions to neighbouring countries.
Observing and measuring the weather in Prague
The very centre of Prague – the Klementinum Jessuite College, which is to be found just a few steps from Hotel Rott, saw the beginnings of the exact observation and measuring of the weather in Central Europe. And it was a very noble and instructed beginning, as the Prague Jessuits had lively contacts with the scientific centre of the order in Tuscany, and some local members contributed to the inventions of the measuring appliances and methods. The various instruments – thermometers, hygrometers, anemometers, needed particular producing skills – such as dexterous glassmakers, who were able to produce tiny glass tubes – and Tuscany was known for its progressive glass making workshops just the same as Bohemia.
The very first measurements of the temperature, rainfall and wind force were made here in 1752, and from the year 1775, there are regular daily records on weather in Prague. Weather in Prague is recorded here until nowadays! So when we talk about the weather dates in Prague, we take into consideration historic dates back to 1775…
First, the data were taken twice daily – at 7 am and 3 pm, at the beginning of the 19th century, so called „Mannheim clocks“ were introduced as a standardized time to measure the weather – 7 am, 2pm and 9 pm, applied all over the Europe.
Well, our short expedition into the weather of Prague shall end up here – just as every other natural element, it was and is one of the determining elements of the life and the image of the city – and the more you realise how close this connection is, the more will you understand the actions, human thinking and history behind the visible parts of Prague.