Free Walking Tour in Prague

Trip Start Jul 09, 2013
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14
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Trip End Oct 12, 2013


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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Sunday, July 21, 2013

After chatting with Ches and catching up on things at home we headed off to meet our Sandemans Free walking tour guide, Tijo, who was passionate about the history of Prague and made an amazing guide for the day, entertaining us with factual information, personal anecdotes, myths and his own personal tips on surviving Prague on a hot, busy day.
We started in the Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti) to learn about the Gothic steeples of Tyn Church (1365) and St Nicholas Church(1730's) on to the Old Town Hall and its astronomical clock(1410) which has a parade of apostles and a bell ringing skeleton every hour, and of course a story to explain the skeleton. in the square centre is a memorial to Jan Hus, a religious reformer, critic of catholic doctrines and inspiration for Protestant movement-he was executed in1465! Next we moved onto Josefov, once the city's Jewish quarter. Here we saw the Old-New Synagogue , the Maisel Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Though the cemetery was closed to us we could see how over the 400 years of ghetto existence, with 200 years where Jews were only allowed to bury within ghetto, they couldn't expand the cemetery out so went up, 12 levels, where graves were layered one on top the other. This cemetery was apparently the inspiration for the artist of the Jewish Memorial in Berlin I mentioned and included a photo of.
Moving through the New Town, we saw the huge statue of St Wenceslas on horseback and beneath it, the shrine to the victims of communism, including Jan Palach and Jan Zajic, students who burned themselves alive in 1969 in protest of the Soviet invasion of Eastern European countries.
Of course, as we moved along the streets, we stopped and looked at numerous buildings, their architecture or historical significance, of which I can no long remember, it was such a full tour. I know we saw film sets for Mission Impossible, The Transporters and others. Prague has been a centre for educational expertise for centuries and the over 200 honoured educationalists of the past are responsible for the modern schooling methods of today.
There was also a church that houses the 'cut off arm' of a man from centuries ago along with the history of why it was cut off.
I'm learning that its not so good to leave editing my blog to another day. The days keep running into one another and I can't remember what's what. Also you'll be pleased to know that today I finally worked out how to embed the photos into the text. This does mean however, that I have to carry my iPad with me and take the photos as I go. This is not always possible so it will be random when they appear.
In the afternoon, we decided to sign up for a paid tour with Tijo as he has been so good and so headed off in 32 degrees to the Prague Castle on the hill. Thankfully it started with buying a tram ticket to get us up there. The stain glass windows of St Vitus Cathedral were as impressive as Notre Dame in Paris. We toured around the castle, seeing the various stages of its construction through the changes in architectural style with some parts, like the towers showing 4 distinct styles, built over a couple of centuries, starting in the 1500's. A highlight was the wonderful view of the city we got from this vantage point and the leisurely stroll around the palace gardens at the end of the day. We saw the changing of the guards, a bit like at the Vatican and my favourite was visiting the Golden Street, a street full of 'little houses' that even I had to bob down to enter. Paul checked out the armoury house and I grabbed a couple of post cards in one of the many houses selling souvenirs.
As if we hadn't done enough walking, we wandered through some back streets to find the John Lennon wall, complete with a free style Parisian artist working with groups of teenagers, before heading across the Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square for a meal of dumplings and sausage with beer, followed by chocolate crepes, all from the markt stalls. I just want to point out that I can spell 'market' but am being local with my spelling where I can!!!
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