Prague

Trip Start Mar 31, 2002
1
8
17
Trip End May 11, 2012


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Monday, April 16, 2012

Ahoj (hello),

Here we are in Prague!
This is certainly a beautiful city full of lots of things to do. We have been starting our major city visits with waking tours from the Sandemans tour company. They are free and at the end you give a tip if you were satisfied with the tour. Starting with the walking tour of the city, every corner you turn you find a treasure and 3 hours later we end up at the base of the castle complex to do yet another 3 hour walking tour of the castle grounds, courtyards and palaces.

The old city has some significant towers, buildings, theatres, concert halls etc and over seven bridges across the river. The castle and cathederal dominates the skyline in one direction.

Saint Vitus' Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Prague, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Located within Prague Castle it containing the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, this cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and is the biggest and most important church in the country. The cathedral is under the ownership of the Czech government as part of the Prague Castle complex. Leadlight windows, beautiful gargoyles, flying buttresses all make this gothic cathedral a must see. Our tour guide is from NZ and she is easy to understand and gives good information. It is much easier when your guides native language is English as the translations do not all mean the same in another language.

In the old city is a Jewish Cemetery, for over 300 years it was the only burial ground permitted for Jews. Jews were not allowed to be buried outside the ghetto so because of the lack of space, people had to be buried on top of each other, up to 12 layers deep. While there are 12,000 gravestones your can walk this raised site (some 3-4 metres above street level) where over 100,000 people are buried here. The last in 1787.

In the same block but in a separate building is the Pinkas Synagogue founded in 1479. This building now is a memorial to all the Jewish Czechoslovak citizens who were imprisoned and murdered by the Nazi's. On the walls are inscribed the names of 80,000 Jews from Prague and the south areas. Above this level is a floor where some of the children's drawings completed while they were imprisoned at Terezin concentration camp are displayed. There were 8,000 children and most of them went to Auschwitz never to return. The drawings show a range of things happening in the camps but all leave you with a sour taste of the outcome for all these children.

The Jewish Quarter in Prague was not destroyed during the war as the Nazis were planning to use the area after the war to show a "Museum of an extinct race".  The information here is quite explicit and tells part of the story from the Czech Jews viewpoint. Unfortunately it was very crowded and many tour and school groups were visiting.

The food in Prague is diverse and cheap compared to Australian main course prices. In Cesky Krumlov we were eating a great main course for under $10 Aus. In Prague a little dearer, about $12-15 Aus for salmon with vegetables. We are not so keen on the dumplings that come with most meals but we have tried most local produce and have only eaten at authentic restaurants recommended by the people at our hotel. As a result we may have avoided the tourist trap of over-priced meals.

Andrew and I have walked and walked, most days about 6 hours and as a result have sore legs, calfs, ankles and backs but it is the best way to see the nooks and crannies of the city.

The most spectacular part of the old town is the area around the river where Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock is. This famous historic bridge crosses the Vltava river, the construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century.(you really do need to be up at dawn to get a good photo) The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas. At night Charles Bridge is a quiet place, but during the day it changes its face into a very busy venue with painters, owners of kiosks, and vendors alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge. We have been to the bridge each day, it naturally draws you back here as it is so beautiful.

So Andrew and I are off to Berlin, back to Germany for a few days, Geoff and Sue are off to Poland. Our impressions of Prague are mixed, to some of us it seems very culturally diversified and very European and yet at odds with other parts of the country we have seen which seem to be very poor and still with a communist legacy. We all agree that it is very crowded with tourists and school groups now and can not imaging what it would be like in high season.

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the snapshot of our travels

Na Shledanou (see you later)
Andrew and Michele
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Comments

Lorraine on

Lovely to read your historic perspective and I envy your sore calf muscles..... worth having.

Jackie on

Seems to me there isn't much happen' in Prague...again.

Paul Burke on

Yes...am enjoying the travel posts....have spent the last couple of days here inside as it has been absolutely bucketing ! Always wanted to go to prague so will have to chat more !

Bridget on

Sounds fantastic guys, and don't worry about the schnapps Michele...apparently it aids digestion so it will be helpful in burning off those sausage calories if the walking doesn't get rid of them.
The ghetto in Terezinstadt is interesting because it was set up by the Nazis as a supposed 'typical' ghetto, where Jewish life was supposedly allowed to continue to operate pretty much as it did before the war, except confined within the ghetto. Of course, it was all show. The International Red Cross were invited to come and view the ghetto, as evidence of the Nazis humane policies towards Jews . As you said, most of them were sent to the death camps....something not mentioned to the Red Cross of course!
Well, you guys would know more than me but you will be coming home to a new boss. CLF and SRD going well. ANZAC Day tomorrow.

Megie on

Finally had the time to catch up on the recent posts, things have been very busy here besides me having a ton of marking to do and juggling new enrolments at work- Nathans phone has been going balistic and life running two business is hectic to say the least, and throw in playing league and AFL an we i guess you would say are running on empty! Glad your having fun the culture and heritage of the sites just seams magic! xxx

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