Monday, March 31, 2008

The Magical City of Prague

: Let me start out by saying this is going to be a long post with a lot of pictures, so you may want to go to the restroom first or get some popcorn. I can't help it, Prague is just a breathtaking city.

My friend David Lassen reminded me that Prague was NOT bombed during World War II thus helping it to preserve the city as it is today. Let's hear it for both the Allies and the Axis Powers on this small oversight!

Besides the city's physical beauty, there is very good shopping for chic clothing, crystal, ceramics and beer. Every great city has a river running through it and Prague has it's Vltava River to fit the bill. You got river boats, the European red trolley cars you see in the movies, extremely polite, pleasant people and, of course the architecture.

I repeat, if you come to Europe anytime soon, go to Prague first!

This is the Czech Republic's Parliament Building near my hotel.

Wenceslas Square

O.K., it's more of a boulevard than a square but this area pictured has tremendous significance to the freedom loving Czech people. The creation of the state of Czechslovak was celebrated here in 1918, the Soviets put down demonstrations here in 1968 and in 1989, 300,000 Czechs rallied here to claim their freedom and bring the Communist government to it's knees.

Good shopping and ice cream too!

Parts of Prague are very serene like this water mill near the Charles Bridge.

Inside the Spanish Synagogue

Prague has a very interesting Jewish Quarter neighborhood named Josefov after Emperor Joseph II who in the 1780's eased much of the discrimination against the Jews.

The Quarter now houses a six part Jewish Museum complex that includes the Old Jewish Cemetery, the Ceremonial Hall and four Synagogues...Pinkas, Klaus, Maisel and Spanish.

Much of the articles on display are related to the Nazi's and the Holocaust but exhibits also include Torahs and various articles of Jewish life in Prague over the centuries.
It was very impressive to say the least!

The Old Jewish Cemetery

The reason that all these 12,ooo+ headstones are all over the place is that it was the only place Jews could be buried in Prague between 1439 and 1787. Because Jews believe that the body should not be disturbed after burial, lack of space and sheer numbers, tombs were piled one on top of another. As the newly built plateau settled the tombstones got crooked.

"Wenceslas Riding an Upside-Down Horse"

You'll find this in the Lucerna Gallery, a Prague shopping center. It was created in 1999 by controversial Czech artist David Cerny. He stirred up a lot of trouble with his anti-Communist stance and just doesn't like authority in general to this day from what I've read.

Since I am traveling alone in one of a most romantic city what could be better than posing with a statue that honors Prague's own Franz Kafka.

How about a delicious lunch of chicken schnitzel, chips and apple strudl (correct Czech language spelling) topped off with a little Pilsner Urquell beer at the Cafe Franz Kafka Delicatesse

Would my solitary meal qualify as Kafkaesque?

This may be the ONLY beer they sell in Prague, it is so good you really don't need another brand

Did you know that Czech people drink more beer per capita than any other nation on earth? Every Czech man, woman and child averages 80 gallons of beer per year! I've got some serious catching up to do!

The Czech Language

First, I love that they use accent marks, little v's, circles and sometimes the two dot umlaut (not on this sign) to help you completely NOT understand how to pronounce a word.

Then there are the multiple consonant combinations screaming to buy a vowel.

I like the sound of the language. It is not as beautiful as Italian or as harsh as German but it has a cadence that appeals to me.

Co Ad-of-the Day

What could he be wanted for? He looks perfectly harmless to me.

Co Ad-of-the-Day

I do not know.

These red trolley cars, to me, mean Europe almost as much as the unique sound of European ambulance horns.

Charles Bridge statue with the Prague Castle in the background.

The Old Town Square

This building is part of the National Gallery housing temporary art exhibits.

The Jan Hus Memorial on the Old Town Square

Hus was a Czech reform leader who was martyred by fire in 1415 A.D. He is a big symbol of freedom for the Czech people.

The Tyn Church of the Hussite movement on the Old Town Square

This is the church that I tought looked like Snow White's Castle at night in yesteday's post.

The Powder Tower

The Old Town was once the hub of the walled city of Prague. The Powder Tower was one of the original gates leading into the old city.

The inside of St. Vitus Cathedral inside the walls of the Prague Castle

Where else but the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague could you find a stained glass window with images of both St. Wenceslaus AND St. Wolfgang?

Who let St. Joanna in on this?

This room houses the tomb of St. Wenceslas at St. Vitus Cathedral

Why did I feel like dancing inside this church? The Czech kings were crowned in this room.

How much would it cost to build just this room in St. Vitus Cathedral today?

Another doorway into the Tomb of St. Wenceslas

Who doesn't love a great flying buttress?
The back side of the St. Vitus Cathedral

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