A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about czech cuisine

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic Centre of Prague

Prague

Update from April 2021: It turns out that the statue was of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the co-founder and first President of Czechoslovakia, and 7th March was his birthday. That explains the military ceremony I saw in front of his statue...

Time for a wander through the Old and New Towns to Prague Castle!

It was cloudy to begin with but the sun started to come out as I crossed the Vltava River via the famous 14th-century Charles Bridge.

d388df30-9471-11eb-9e87-27ecb5806c52.JPGIMG_9441.JPGd55d02f0-9471-11eb-a9ad-5916da2e1454.JPGd5c365e0-9471-11eb-9e87-27ecb5806c52.JPG

I took my time crossing, taking in the views and admiring some of the statues along each side.

d5fee840-9471-11eb-9e87-27ecb5806c52.JPGIMG_9439.JPGIMG_9450.JPG

The latter included the 17th-century statue of St John of Nepomuk, who is said to bring good luck to those who touch him. Parts of the metal plinth decoration were shiny from years of people's touches.

IMG_9447.JPGIMG_9442.JPG

On the New Town end of the bridge I crossed a small canal.

IMG_9458.JPGd626bb90-9471-11eb-9a53-2bf3d5b28f95.JPG

From there I passed through the archway of the Lesser Town Bridge Tower and made my way gradually up the hill to the castle. The architecture was just as impressive as in the Old Town. It was exhilarating to wander up the cobbled streets in the cold sunshine, trams passing by, colour on all sides.

4f96d110-9484-11eb-8df0-eba0aa23711f.JPGIMG_9464.JPGIMG_9467.JPGIMG_9466.JPG94a86570-9484-11eb-baeb-236e6c8fa326.JPGIMG_9470.JPG

Eventually I reached the foot of the castle complex. A violinist serenaded passers-by as I stopped for a little rest and had a look at a little war memorial set into the wall.

IMG_9474.JPG3c7a9f50-9491-11eb-ace9-59cd099bd93a.JPG3b7dc8c0-9491-11eb-bb16-5908b1ccc7a8.JPGIMG_9480.JPG

Before reaching the castle entrance at the very top of the hill, there was a terrace with some stunning views over the city.

IMG_9488.JPGIMG_9487.JPGIMG_9483.JPG

A little further up, in the big square in front of the complex, I unexpectedly caught a small military ceremony in front of a statue. I'm not sure what the occasion was... it's not a public holiday today.

IMG_9493.JPGIMG_9489.JPG

Immediately after that I unexpectedly caught another military ceremony... the Changing of the Guard. I stood near Matthias Gate (the entrance to the courtyard) - I saw soldiers marching in, couldn't see much of what subsequently happened within the courtyard, but did get a good view of when the guards came back out to change positions within their pillboxes by the Gate. (No pictures of the ceremony, unfortunately, as I only took videos and I can't load them here without them already being on YouTube or Vimeo.)

IMG_9494.JPGIMG_9498.JPGa6da7880-952b-11eb-8441-d116e78ca2ce.JPG

My first stop within the castle complex was the magnificent Gothic and Neo-Gothic St Vitus Cathedral.

eea366d0-95fe-11eb-be38-a7bc4a1faa6c.JPG

Work began on the present-day cathedral in 1344, but it wasn't finished and consecrated until 1929! The more modern blends seamlessly into the old; examples of the new include some of the many stained glass windows, such as the Creation Rose Window (Frantisek Kysela: 1925) and those within a series of chapels in the Neo-Gothic part of the cathedral. The New Archbishop Chapel contains one designed by the Art Nouveau decorative artist Alphonse Mucha in 1930, which shows Christianity being introduced to the Slavic peoples via Saints Cyril & Methodius (I remember these two from my time in Bulgaria).

IMG_9516.JPGIMG_9550.JPG

My other favourite stained glass windows, both old and new, include the following:

IMG_9526.JPG992b2f50-9601-11eb-8ed6-55278d349936.JPGIMG_9553.JPG99fd2550-9601-11eb-a33a-09663e6144d7.JPG

I spent quite a while just wandering around, taking in the beauty and the atmospheric nature of my surroundings.

437a7380-9dd7-11eb-92b3-1fc082bb778f.JPG8a206380-9dd7-11eb-92b3-1fc082bb778f.JPGIMG_9525.JPGIMG_9529.JPGIMG_9535.JPGIMG_9532.JPGIMG_9528.JPGIMG_9547.JPGIMG_9520.JPG

Special mention to the stunning St Wenceslas Chapel, focal point and cult centre of the cathedral; I admired the 14th-century wall paintings of the Passion Cycle, amongst other magnificent decoration.

IMG_9537.JPGIMG_9543.JPG

On my exit from the cathedral I had a good look at the decoration of the chapel's exterior entrance.

IMG_9556.JPGIMG_9560.JPGIMG_9559.JPG

My ticket allowed me entrance to four attractions within Prague Castle. With St Vitus Cathedral being the first, the Old Royal Palace next door took my fancy next. Of special interest to me was the room in which the most famous Defenestration of Prague took place, in 1618 (the spark which ignited the Thirty Years' War). I was interested to find out that the victims actually survived - I'd always assumed that they'd died in the fall. We weren't allowed to take photos here or in the adjoining rooms, but we were in the nearby Vladislav Hall.

IMG_9564.JPG2c4d63b0-9e00-11eb-a3ef-21b78b5440e1.JPG2cb06b40-9e00-11eb-9cfa-b1c326b03ed6.JPG

My next stop was St George's Basilica; founded in 920, enlarged in 973 and then rebuilt after a fire in 1147, it's one of the oldest buildings in the castle complex.

7ca5b8c0-9e06-11eb-b575-b51fb403b0d1.JPGIMG_9580.JPG7c7d2220-9e06-11eb-bb50-e56b7d343ab5.JPG7c2d7b80-9e06-11eb-b0de-c7c5b46740d2.JPGIMG_9584.JPG

After that I moved on to the Golden Lane, which is a street of small historic houses first built for castle guards in the 16th century. Craftsmen moved into the houses after about half a century - including goldsmiths, who gave the street its name. These craftsmen in turn left, however, and in the 19th century the street became a slum, inhabited by poor workers and artists. The houses were lived in right up to 1939 - the writer Franz Kafka lived in one of them for a couple of years during the First World War. Most of them are souvenir shops now, but there were a couple of museum houses too, set up to look how they did when craftsmen or notable inhabitants were living in them over the last couple of hundred years.

Before I had a look at any of the houses, however, I looked round the medieval armoury museum and a former dungeon, both of which are contained within 14th-century fortifications accessed through Golden Lane.

IMG_9596.JPGIMG_9589.JPGIMG_9587.JPGIMG_9590.JPG

In one of the long underground corridors in the fortifications I got to try out a crossbow!

Once back up at ground level I walked down the Golden Lane, peering in at the museum houses.

IMG_9597.JPGIMG_9598.JPG4e4ecf40-9e1d-11eb-a14a-45d3b3c9b9a1.JPGIMG_9601.JPGIMG_9603.JPG

Before I left the castle grounds I managed some photos of an amazing view over the castle gardens and the city beyond.

IMG_9606.JPGIMG_9613.JPG

A cat kept tabs on me from a first floor window as I retraced my steps down the hill to the river and Old Town.

IMG_9615.JPG

I was knackered by now, and hungry because I hadn't had any lunch, so although it was only about 4pm I decided to have a very early dinner at a restaurant there and then, with the plan to subsequently get a sandwich or other bakery item from a supermarket to have at the hostel later. I decided on Czech goulash with dumplings and red onion - I was surprised at the dumplings, as they were more like slices of bread than the dumplings I've had elsewhere, but it was all very tasty anyway.

I passed through the Old Town Square on my way back to the hostel. Street performers were there in giant fluffy panda and gorilla suits, playing around with members of the public who wanted photos with them. They were very amusing, but I didn't hang around for long as I was so keen to get back and flop at the hostel. The famous astronomical clock is to one side of the square, but I decided to leave that until the next day.

d3271550-9e23-11eb-b1dd-f78a036f9955.JPGd32d7df0-9e23-11eb-91ce-8df1621a7302.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 09:25 Archived in Czech Republic Tagged bridges churches prague museum czech_republic explorations fortifications changing_of_the_guard unesco_world_heritage_site czech_cuisine Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 1 of 1) Page [1]