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Highlights of my last two days in Prague

Prague, Prague Airport and London Luton Airport


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I didn't do all that much these last two days - maybe the last six weeks of teaching and travelling had caught up with me rather, and I was in need of a rest. I was happy to relax in the hostel and wander around the Old and Lesser Towns and drop into one or two places I came across, rather than try to fit loads of stuff in.

The Astronomical Clock

Totally stunning, as I expected! Absolutely worth seeing, despite the thronging crowd.

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Bethlehem Chapel

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This medieval religious building, a national cultural monument, is well worth a look inside - though be aware that the main room is one big square hall, not the typical church or chapel interior, so it could seem a bit different to what you might expect. The famous Czech religious reformer, Jan Hus, lived and preached here from 1402 until his excommunication in 1412. He was burned at the stake in 1415, and every year a memorial service is held in this chapel on 5th July, the eve of the anniversary of his death.

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Founded in 1391, it was demolished in the 18th century but then very painstakingly restored in the 1950s using the remnants of the original outer walls. My favourite parts were the wooden features and the wall paintings, especially the musical notation (maybe of plainchant?) Sources seem to conflict about whether the wall paintings are original or not, but either way, they were interesting.

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Adjoining the main hall were some rooms which were originally where the preachers lived, including Jan Hus. They are empty now, save for some displays about the life and times of Jan Hus and one or two cases of artefacts. These artefacts included a 'liber decanorum' annotated by Hus himself, the Prague University foundation charter (1348), and five intriguing 'tiles with Hussite topics'; the ones I took photos of show 'A Hussite commander with a banner-carrier', 'A devil with a woman', 'Adam and Eve in the Paradise' (sic) and 'Three Hussite fighters'.

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Chimney Cake (Trdelník)

I saw a lot of places selling these and they seemed pretty pricey (the equivalent of at least £3.50-£4 for the cheapest version, and I wanted an ice cream-filled one, which cost more) so I um'd and ah'd a bit about getting one, but on actually trying one I realised it was absolutely worth it - bigger and therefore more filling and substantial than I expected, and absolutely delicious! To me it was less like a cake and more like a bun, similar to a Chelsea bun though roughly cone-shaped and with an outer layer of glazed sugar.

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Church of St Nicholas

There are two St Nicholas churches in the centre of Prague and unfortunately I've forgotten which one I went into. In fact, I could actually be wrong about it being one of the St Nicholas churches as the interior decoration doesn't seem to fit either. Maybe if there's someone reading this who is from the area and/or otherwise recognises the church from my pictures below, they could possibly comment to let me know?

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Wandering the streets, Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square

This I enjoyed a lot, just taking in the sunshine, the architecture and the ringing of the trams. The giant gorilla and panda were out again in the Old Town Square, this time accompanied by a polar bear and a couple of human statues.

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My Air Bagan flight on the 9th wasn't until 22:35, so I didn't arrive at Luton Airport until 23:40 GMT. A very smooth-running flight with no issues at all. To avoid the steep pick-up charge, I walked out of the airport and Dave picked me up from outside a nearby hotel instead.

Posted by 3Traveller 19:36 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged churches prague airport museum czech_republic explorations astronomical_clock unesco_world_heritage_site czech_cuisine Comments (2)

A Moment of Time

Rostock


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Before transferring to Hotel Sportforum I went for another, longer walk round town.

My first destination was the Kröpeliner Tor, the tallest city gate, but to get there I walked through a park with a stream which followed the path of the old city fortifications.

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I also passed an old Franciscan monastery, now a museum - I didn't have time to go in, unfortunately, but was able to have a quick look at the courtyard.

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After looking at the Kröpeliner Tor I walked down the main pedestrianised street, passing part of Rostock University (the oldest university in continental northern Europe and the Baltic Sea area) on my way.

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My next destination was the Marienkirche, which contains Rostock's pride and joy; a 12-metre high astronomical clock, which is the only one in the world still with its original mechanisms. It was built in 1472 by Hans Düringer and is a sight to behold! Carved wooden signs of the zodiac lie around the centre, and at the top, when the clock strikes midnight and midday wooden figures of six of the apostles come out of a row of doors and parade round Jesus. I got to see this as I timed my visit specially on Sunday morning to coincide.

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Underneath the main part of the clock was a fantastically detailed disc which tells people the exact date on which Easter falls in any given year. Each disc has space for 130 years and the last disc expired and was replaced in 2017. I tried to find out when Easter will be next year, but it was so incredibly complicated I couldn't!

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It lies behind the main altar and had handily-placed seats in front. As I took a seat and gazed at it, enveloped in silence save for the low, slow but audible tick-tock of the clock, I was overcome with the sense of history. I could almost see the woodcarver who had carved the signs of the zodiac. Time hung around me, suspending me in the moment. I felt a great sense of calm and peace.

The rest of the church was interesting too. There were more model ships hanging from the ceiling (like at the Petrikirche), an impressively massive (almost) floor-to-ceiling Baroque organ, an embroidery dating from the 16th century and a large gilded triptych of which I unfortunately forgot to note the date and artist.

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The only downside to the who place was that it was freezing cold!

After getting some lunch from a bakery I admired the Town Hall in the Neuer Markt before returning to the hostel to pick up my bags.

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My walk to Hotel Sportforum took a lot longer than it should have done, firstly because another wheel on my big case broke so it became slower and more difficult to get it about, and secondly because I took a wrong turn. Still, although I was knackered by the time I arrived, there was some lovely scenery on the way. These crocuses were the first sign of spring that I noticed on this Central European trip.

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View from my window, Hotel Sportforum.

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Posted by 3Traveller 13:42 Archived in Germany Tagged churches art buildings hotel germany museum monastery rostock astronomical_clock fortifications Comments (0)

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