The City of a Thousand Spires

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
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10
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Trip End Nov 24, 2009


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Where I stayed

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prague is my favorite city on this trip so far! Or maybe of all time, not sure yet. It's definitely in my top 3 though. It's a beautiful town with amazing buildings. The styles are all different. It’s mostly Art Nouveau (my favorite) but also has some Baroque, medieval-Gothic, Roman Catholic gothic, cubism, and the list goes on. Every street is so amazing to walk down because there is so much to see. The buildings are so beautiful and decorated from the ground up.

We are staying in a hostel in the Old Town. It’s near the Old Town Square, which is a huge square that is popular with both locals and tourists. Really neat buildings and cathedrals surround the square. One of the main attractions is the Astronomical Clock on the bell tower of the Old Town Hall. It’s a very one-of-a-kind clock. There are actually two clocks, the one on the top is the real Astronomical one and the bottom is one that has a calendar with the 365 Czech names of the year. The Astronomical clock on top has the sun and moon going around and an arrow pointing to what time of day it is- sun (day) or moon (night). There is also a faint painting of the universe, which revolves around Prague. Roman numerals are painted in black and gold, showing modern time. Bohemian time (not modern) is also another layer to the clock. Finally, Astrological signs go around in a circle and there is a clock hand point to which sign we’re in currently. No regular person can actually read this clock. A story we heard on a walking tour is that the Czech people burns the clockmaker’s eyes out so he couldn’t build another clock like it and then they cut his tongue out so he couldn’t tell anyone how he’d made it. This was all to keep this Astronomical clock an original, one-of-a-kind clock only for their country. A crowd in the thousands gathers every hour to watch the clock go off at the top of the hour. There are figures on the clock- 3 men portraying human deadly sins and one of a skeleton. At the top of the hour the skeleton "comes to life" and pulls a rope which makes two windows open up and noblemen figures parade by the windows, sticking their heads out. Then the golden rooster way above the clock crows. That part is not nearly as exciting as it sounds though. The cool thing is just seeing the famous clock.

Since I wrote so much about the clock, I guess I’ll briefly say what we’ve done here in “Praha.” We went to the Mucha Museum. That is Alfonso Mucha’s official museum. He is the famous Art Nouveau artist. He became famous at the turn of the 20th century. Everyone has seen one of his works whether they know it or not. I think he’s my favorite artist right now. I really wanted to buy a print but don’t have the means to carry it. I think I’ll order one when I get home. His lithographs are absolutely beautiful. Everyone should google “Mucha” and look at his beautiful art.

We saw the biggest castle in Europe- the Prague Castle. It has an enormous Roman Catholic gothic cathedral within the castle walls called St. Vitus Cathedral. It’s beautiful on the inside. It has so many stained glass windows too- one designed by Mucha himself. We also went on a 3 hour walking tour with a guide named Justin. He was energetic and funny. We got to walk everywhere around the city, starting in the Old Town Square, through the Old Town, to the “New Town” (still old to Americans), through the Jewish Quarter, and on to the river where the famous Charles Bridge is that separates Prague into two sides. We learned a lot about Czech history while we were here and heard a few cool legends. It would be too long of a blog entry to write them now but ask me later. Oh and we went to a Toy and Barbie Museum where they not only had really old toys from the 1700’s through the 1900’s but they had an entire floor dedicated to Barbies- starting from the original Barbie! It was awesome! I took so many pictures. There were even Spice Girl Barbies! We also went to an orchestra one night at the Church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town Square. The instruments were just an organ, a baritone, 2 trombones, and 2 trumpets but the music was incredible. We also walked down Wenceslas Square in New Town and found out about the 21-year-old who so wanted his country to be free from Communist rule that he burned himself to death in a demonstration on the steps of a the National Museum in 1969. The demonstration was in vain until 1989 when the Iron Curtain finally came down and a few days later the Czech Republic had it’s “Velvet Revolution.” We got to see his memorial site. He is now a Saint in Prague.

This town is perfect for walking. That’s all we’d done up until today when we took a tram for the first time. We estimate we must have walked at least 13 miles yesterday because we were on the go all day, starting from that walking tour.

We met some really cool people in our hostel too. We’re staying in a room with 8 bunks so we meet new people as they cycle in and out every day. So far a lot of people seem to be traveling on their own. It’s a great city to be on your own though. There is so much to do and see, so many people to meet, (so many English speaking people here), and it’s an extremely safe-feeling town.

I love it here and am sad to say goodbye. We are leaving for Krakow, Poland tomorrow in the afternoon.

Bye!

-Michelle

Prague has a little city feel for a big city. I feel that when I look around I see buildings from all over Europe in one city. The fall colors are out here. It’s the first time we’ve finally broken into 50 and 60 degree weather, where sweaters are required. Eating here is affordable. And a huge upgrade from Spain- no more damn bocadillos. (Lame Spanish sandwiches.) We both really enjoy our Art Nouveau and Mucha Museum. We had a great meal at the Louvre Café- we’d both highly recommend it. We also walked by the National Theatre, where the Czech President was attending a performance. There were dozens of police officers guarding all entrances and secret service men. Oh, and the Pope is in town. He is staying up at the Castle apparently. That’s where the Czech President’s offices are too. We also saw “Fred and Ginger,” the dancing buildings designed by Frank Gehry. Overall, it’s been a great experience. There are no negatives here. There’s a lot of stuff to do and see, the prices are great, our hostel is great…

All for now,

-Andre
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Comments

nancyk136
nancyk136 on

fabulous
i am your fan! looking forward to more.

esltanns
esltanns on

A place I want to visit next year
Great pics of Prague. I didn't know it was such a beautiful city with so many churches. I have never been there before so it will be a city we want to visit next year. Tell me more about Czech Republic as I know just a little. Hope you are getting a good grasp of history and can use it in your classes next spring, Andre!

m and p

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