Prague, Czech Republic: 2nd October 2003 – 6th October 2003
Prague, Czech Republic
It’s Pete’s birthday, so off we go to the Czech Republic for a long weekend in Prague to check (no pun intended) out the local beer, local cultures and, in Pete’s case, the locals. “Dekuji” to Pete, Paul, Dave, Phil and Graham for a long weekend of culture and drinking.
Tyn Church, Prague
Tyn Church with it’s gold effigy of the Virgin Mary and “strangely disturbing spires”* overlooking the Old Town Square. Construction commenced in the late 1300s on the site of an old chapel and was completed sometime in the 1400s.
Old Town Square, Prague
The Old Town Square (or Staromestske namesti) was once the central marketplace of Prague. For over 1000 years this part of the city has been popular for various celebrations and executions, though I guess the latter are on the decline as we did not witness any. The balcony of the Golz-Kinsky Palace (on the left) was where the first Communist President of the Czech Republic announced his coup d’etat in 1948. The monument in the middle celebrates the 500th anniversary of Master Jan Hus being burnt at the stake. Graham and I celebrated all of this by getting drunk on local brew in an outdoor cafe in the square.
House of the Minute, Prague
I don’t know much about the House of the Minute other than it forms part of the Town Hall. I can only speculate on the name – it doesn’t look to be design for small people, so I guess meetings were held there. Anyway, never mind that, just look at the decor. This sort of exterior design can be found all around the older part of the city.
Astrological or Astronomical Clock, Prague
I’m not entirely sure whether this is called the Astrological Clock or the Astronomical Clock, it looks like there are elements of both. Either way, on the hour, the bell tolls and some figures shake their heads. Death nods his head. Jesus and the Twelve Apostles do a little parade and a cock crows at the end of it all. The best bit, however, is that the chap who made the clock, Master Hanus, had his eyes poked out with a red hot poker by the city councillors to prevent him from building a similar marvel in any other city. At least, that’s the popular myth. Needless to say, this all took place in the 15th Century when Europeans were quite keen on torture.
Prague Castle, St Vitus’ Cathedral and Charles Bridge, Prague
Prague Castle, which doesn’t look much like a conventional castle and St Vitus’ Cathedral which is worthy of it’s name. Nothing particularly interesting ever happened at the castle. The changing of the guards takes place at noon – they get to wear uniforms designed by a stage and costume designer in 1990…hmmm. The cathedral is far more interesting, building started in the 1300s and was not completed until the early 1900s when the two great gothic spires were added. What’s more, the tomb of Wenceslas can be found here as can the brass ring that he grasped onto during his death throes. He was murdered by order of his brother, Boleslav the Cruel.
Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague
Check this out, it’s the Old Jewish Cemetery in the Jewish Quarter of Prague. In the three hundred years before 1787 over 20,000 Jews were buried here, some up to twelve graves deep. There are only 1200 gravestones here and just look how cramped they are. Rabbi Loew is also buried here. He busied himself creating and, ultimately, destroying the Golem (a sort of Frankenstein character created to help the Jews) and fighting off the Demon of Persecution. I was fascinated by this place and made a fuss until we went to see it, only to find it closed. I will return.
Tiger Bar, Prague
Tiger Bar or “U Zlateho Tygra” in the Stare Mesto district of the city was recommended to us by a local couple who we met in another bar. Apparently, Bill Clinton visited and it was the regular watering hole of Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. We were told that the bar has not changed since the country’s Communist days. Very pleasant it was too with it’s accordion wielding locals. Oh look, it’s two of my drunken comrades. Ahoj! Pivo prosim!
Suspended Statue, Prague
I can’t explain this, there were no plaques explaining what this was all about or who it was meant to be. I’m sure I saw a similar non-suspended statue with a live, upright horse elsewhere in the city, but didn’t investigate for some reason. We found it in a small shopping mall on the west side of Wenceslas Square. Explanations welcome by email to Webmaster.
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Graham and I decided that the picturesque town of Cesky Krumlov required visiting. Unfortunately, the train timetables lied and we were stuck in not-so-picturesque
Cesky Budejovice for four hours on the way home and, consequently, missed out on Saturday night in Prague. Otherwise, it was quite a pleasant day out.
Cesky Krumlov Castle Tower
This castle tower is the focus of the town. What looks like brickwork is actually painted on. In fact, the whole town was full of steep cobbled streets with narrow side streets with pot holes big enough to lose a baby down. There was also a live bear pit, which I suspect the pot holes led to.
Cesky Krumlov Cathedral
I didn’t have many decent pictures of Cesky Krumlov, but here’s one of the cathedral, some scaffolding and the Vltava River which flows in a tight S-bend through the town. The town is built on the two promontories. Try this link for a better view of Cesky Krumlov.
* Prague In Your Pocket, Michelin Travel Publications, 1996