Prague - immersion in history

Trip Start Sep 24, 2012
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Trip End Nov 02, 2012


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Hlavní město Praha,
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The old city square is the starting point for many walking tours, where we selected a local woman (Jana) for our guide with a broad mixture of people from other English speaking nations. Her English taught to her by the Russians under the communist regime made for a complex accent and style which took time to master. Her life coming initially from the privations and limitations of the regime and then the change from 1989, meant she had a rich personal history and story to help us understand the recent history of Czech Republic. We were ahead of most others in the tour new to Czech. as we had learnt quite a lot via museums and Vladamir in Cesky Krumlov.

The 4 of us spent the afternoon on a tour of the range of sites in the 'Jewish Museums in Prague'. The major Jewish landmarks included -the Spanish synagogue (so-called as when it was rebuilt in 1868 Moorish styles were in fashion) with beautiful intricate designs and gold trim and some long history of the Jews in Prague, the Pinkas synagogue which has been changed into a memorial to all Jews in Prague and Moravia killed by the Nazis. A very simple building with white walls with meticulously written out the 80,000 names of those killed; very confronting and moving to see the walls completely covered in this way. Upstairs included a display of the art work of children in the concentration camps. The themes were of daily live and of the traditions. E.g Shabbat. No scenes of desperation, hunger or ill treatment. I was left uncertain whether this was due to the Nazi censorship and destruction of other work, and that they used propaganda to try to show everyone the new model townships they had set up with the Jewish population.
The old Jewish cemetery has 12,000 tombstones and 100,000 buried in an area less than a normal Australian house lock, with people buried 12 deep. The old town had a vey limited space with the river path and water level. The Klausen synagogue aimed to show customs and traditions, e.g. Ceremonial torah's, robes.
After feet up for a while after all the walking, we enjoyed the pleasant surrounds of a jazz club for dinner. The location in the old city square meant an average tourist menu, but the ambience and the rich voice of the singer (and warmth on a cold nite) made up for this.
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