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Old September 10th, 2005, 06:52 PM   #1
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Prague trip day 2-3

This is about day 2 on my Prague trip, continued from part 1. We are in Staré Mesto (Old Town).

Prasná Brána, the “Gunpowder Gate”. A copy of the gate tower to Charles Bridge. Founded in 1475 by king Vladislav II as one of 13 gates to the old town, it got its name because it later was used to store gunpowder.

Obecní Dum, Peoples’s Palace of Prague, is Prague´s most famous jugend building and is situated at the place where the old royal palace once stood. In the glass domed Smetana Hall, many popular concerts take place. Conference rooms, offices, restaurants and cafés are included in the complex. We went in and had a look in the jugend café. It was in Obecní Dum that the new independent state of Czechoslovakia was declared in 1918.

Right next to Obecní Dum a very large and modern new shopping mall is under construction inside an old building.

The silhouette of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn is rising above the old town.

Státní Opera (the state opera) from 1885. It was originally called the New German Theatre because it was built to compete with the Czech national theatre. In 1945 it became the city’s foremost opera. It is situated next to River Vltava.

One of the most famous views of Prague – the district Prazsky Hrad a Hradcany (the Prague Castle and Hradcany), dominated by St Vitus Cathedral above River Vltava. More about this part later.

A castle like building, probably an embassy.

Karluv Most, also called Charles Bridge or Karls bridge, is the most famous and beautiful monument in Prague and connects Staré Mesto with Malá Strana. It is 520m long and was built in sandstone.

It is made for pedestrians and on the way between the 2 similar looking gates to the bridge, there are a lot of famous religious sculptures integrated with the bridge. There is also a market along the bridge.

The gothic eastern gate tower to Charles Bridge was designed by Peter Parler. There is an observation deck in the tower. The tower on the other side of Vltava, and the Gunpowder Gate, or imitations of this tower.

The statue of Karl IV (or Charles IV), the king that the bridge is named after.

View from the bridge towards the castle.

S:t Thomas Church seen from the bridge. This church was originally gothic, but was reconstructed in baroque style when it was hit by the lightening in 1723.

The statue of Jesus Christ on the cross with the S:t Vitus Church in the background. Many of the statues are just copies, the originals are in the National Museum to protect them. As you already might have noticed, Prague is a very religious city.

View towards Manesov bridge to the north.

And Legií bridge to the south with the national theater to the left. Note Vltava’s level differences.

View towards Salvátor Church and the gate on the east side of Vltava, belonging to the popular and hilly district Malá Strana.

Is it Venice or Prague? When reaching Malá Strana, we could see this beautiful sight.
This is the first time we came to Malá Strana, or the Lesser Side in English, that is separated by the river from the city center.

A street with beautiful houses in different styles leads to S:t Nicholas Church on Malá Strana.

S:t Nicholas Church on Malá Strana, completed in 1761, is not to be confused with the church with the same name at the Old Town Square. This 79m tall domed baroque church separates the 2 half sides of Malostranské námestí (Lesser Side Square). The most famous artists of the 18th century have made sculptures and paintings inside. We were never inside, I can’t remember why.

An endless tunnel in the metro of Prague. The metro doesn’t only go under the city, it goes under the river and inside a bridge high above the city. The trains leave very often until midnight.

Hradcany a Prazsky Hrad at sunset.

Cechuv most. There are columns and statues both on and below this nice bridge.
In the background is Letná Park, across the river from Josefov, with its huge metronome, that is almost as unpopular as the statue of Stalin that stood there before the revolution.

The Prague Castle and Hradcany, dominated by S:t Vitus Cathedral, at sunset. Very beautiful, isn’t it?

At the northern edge of Staré Mesto is the district Josefov, that used to be a Jewish ghetto. In the 15th century the Jews where very oppressed, the severe laws where somewhat relieved by Josef II, that is why the district was named after him. In the late 19th century, the whole area, except for the Jewish town hall, the cemetary and the synagogas were destroyed because it was a sanitary risk.

The tragic Jewish cemetary. Many famous Jewish people are buried there. Unfortunately it is very crowded, because they didn’t get space enough 12 000 tombs are erected upon each other. That is because this was the only area where Jews where allowed to be buried.

The gate to the Jewish cemetary. It was now starting to get dark.

After dark, we decided to walk on the nearby Charles Bridge once again with all the lights.

The gate tower to Charles Bridge after dark.

On Charles Bridge after dark.

The house in the middle claims to be Europe´s largest music club with 5 or 6 floors. We planned to go there, but where too tired because we walked too much.

A government house between Josefov and the Old Town.

Týn Church at the Old Town Square after dark.

Václav Square after dark. After dark, strange people come out from the corners, trying to sell drugs.

We looked in the guide book after a cheap, but good restaurant. And we found Klub Architektu in the western outskirts of the old town, very appreciated by us. In a cozy basement under a courtyard next to the Bethlehem Church was this pearl. Pretty cheap prices, 35 koruna (about 10 euro) for a tasty dinner including a nice dessert, 0,5 liter bear and a fine glass of Italian vine, good service and a beautiful mysterious atmosphere. Cheers!

After that we went back to Hotel Opatov and had a good night’s sleep. After having breakfast the next day, we took the metro to Malá Strana (Lesser Side) that is divided from the city center by River Vltava.

Wallenstein Palace (Valdstejnska zahrada) is a romantic baroque palace with gardens. It stands as a monument of Albrecht von Wallenstein’s ambition to compete with the Prague Castle, that can be seen above it in this picture. The architect (Andrea Spezza) and the artists that made the palace where all from Italy. Despite that the palace houses the Czech senate, it is open to public. The fountains and bronze statues are work of Adriaen de Vries that was stolen by the Swedes in 1648 to decorate Drottningholms slott in Sweden (shame on us)!

On the right edge of the garden, there is a pound with a statue in the middle. Beyond this is a building, the former riding school, that nowadays is used by the national gallery for temporary exhibitions.

View towards S:t Nicholas Church and S:t Thomas Church with Petrín Park above.

This cave liked wall is impressive, one of my favourite decorations in Prague!

Detail of the “cave wall”.

Behind the large window is a caged room for birds.

Detail of Wallenstein Palace’s outdoor roof.

The entrance to the senate of Czech Republic in the Wallenstein Palace.

A hilly street on Malá Strana.

Malá Strana is very hilly. We walked up for the long, steep, but very nice street Nerudova towards Petrín Park. There are many nice embassys on this street.

Strahovský kláster and the Swedish embassy at the top of the hill. The abbey was rebuilt in 1258 in gothic (and later baroque) style because of a fire.

The entrance to the Swedish embassy at the top of the hill. All signs were in Swedish and we saw a copy of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on a table inside.

View from close to the embassy towards S:t Nicholas Church (left) and the TV Tower (right)

On the top of the hill and end of Nerudova, I saw this pink tram in front of the old building. It looked even more funny when the orange water truck passed by, one of many that flush the streets of Prague and make the following cars wet. If the reason is to clean the streets or to make the air less dry I don’t know.

S:t Vitus is rising 99 meters between the leaves of the beautiful Petrín Hill. More about the cathedral later.

Is it the Eiffel Tower we have spotted? No, it is the newly renovated Petrín Tower, Prague´s own imitation of the Eiffel Tower, built for the anniversary exhibition in 1891. It was the inventor Cimrman that designed the tower that pointed out to Gustav Eiffel that the Eiffel Tower should have its legs more apart. Petrín was completed only 2 years after the Eiffel Tower.

After passing the quiet park Petrín Hill and had some drinks, we came to Petrín Tower to climb the stairs. But first, we visited its own museum in the basement about the inventor Cimrman and his inventions on display.

Even if it is only 60 m high, the view is stunning because it stands on the 300m high Petrin Hill above the city. And the fact that you have to climb the 229 steps through the outdoor stairs instead of taking the elevator makes it feel even more exciting. Sometimes we felt the tower shaking, especially on the top! The views from the observation deck on the top:

Petrín Hill, old town and TV tower.

The nearby Strahovský kláster.

Prague Castle and S:t Vitus.

Skyscrapers in the southeast.

Old Town with to the east with Týn, Vltava and Charles Bridge.

Hotel Opatov, the hotel we stay at in the middle of the far eastern commie block district! The church to the left is probably Ludmila.

Commie blocks close to the tower with a background of beautiful villas and mountains.

Strahovsky Stadion. A football stadium.

The wall right below the tower.

Petrín Park.

TV Tower and the much lower radio tower in the distance.
Now, we climb down the stairs! After we did that we had to find the way down the hill to the Prague castle. It was very hard because there were several paths and no signs. When we finally came down, we thought we where trapped behind a fence, but we found an opening to the city.

S:t Vitus.

Old meets new. Two generations of Skoda parked opposite each other in Malá Strana.

And a Skoda police car.

The winding streets of Malá Strana. After walking down the Petrín Hill, and failing in finding the funiculare, we also had to walk down this steep street to Hradcany.

Prague´s highrise skyline from the left: Corinthia Towers Hotel, Empire, Corinthia Panorama Hotel and the abandoned City Tower. Below them are the “new town” and a street light!

The entrance to Prazský Hrad, the Castle of Prague. Note the stiff guards on each side of the gate and S:t Vitus two towers. We witnessed the changing of the guard at the other end of the castle.

These old veteran cars are for hire with a driver.

Královský Palác, the Royal Palace that also has been used for the government and as a courthouse. The bohemian conqueror ruled Prague from here in the 11th century. It was renovated in 1924. It is built in 3 different styles: a roman palace (in the basement of the current palace), the gothic Vladislav Hall (a hugh royal hall with vaults) and a chapel in baroque style.

Kláster Sv. Jirí, or S:t George’s Abbey, was Böhmen’s first abbey. In 1974 the abbey was transformed to a baroque art gallery. S:t Geroge’s Basilica (Sv. Jirí) is towering above.

S:t Vitus Cathedral, or St Veit. It is the most impressive gothic cathedral I have been to and the most famous landmark of Prague. In Czech the cathedral is called Sv. Víta or Václava a Vojtécha.

The side tower is the tallest one and is 99m high. The start of construction was demanded in 1344 by Johan of Luxemburg. When its architect Matthias from Arras, died, Peter Parler from Schwaben continued his work. It was completed in the early 20th century.

Details of the cathedral.

The cathedral and Pulverturm.

S:t Vitus is impressively high inside. This is the gothic chancel that Peter Parler started to build in 1372.

The organ.

The chandelier.

Note how the light of the windows reflect.

The gate to the outside world, the district Hradcany. That’s where we saw the changing of the guards.

Views just outside the gate at Hradcany:

Prague skyline with the national theatre to the left of the bridge.

TV Tower and Týn Church in the middle. Old town hall to the right.

The churches S:t Thomas and S:t Nicholas in Malá Strana.

An interesting mix of old and new towers of Prague.

Ledenbour Terraces. We didn’t have time and money to get inside, but it looked very beautiful from below. It consists geometrical garden terraces from the 16th century inspired by Italian renaissance style, later (in the 18th century) decorated with baroque fountains and statues. They have nice views.

Grand Hotel Evropa at Václav Namesti was completed in 1906. It is a classic 5 star jugend hotel where most of the interior is original.

Soon to be continued
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Old September 10th, 2005, 09:22 PM   #2
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Wonderful. Love it.
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Old September 11th, 2005, 04:30 AM   #3
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Old September 12th, 2005, 04:09 PM   #4
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Later the same day, in the evening:

Me at Jezera, another nice but not expensive restaurant where we tried the Czech national food meat with cabbade and dumplings. It tasted good, but not very. The restaurant was in a basement at Vávlav Namesti, but the staff was a bit too stressy.

Václav Square after dark.

Narodny Museum at Václav Namesti is impressively light after dark.

Yet another restaurant, but here we just ordered Czech vine. The restaurant was called Primitive and was located in a basement close to Václav Square at Sokolská in Nové Mesto (New Town). The interior was very cool, it looked like a cave and was decorated with bones, fur and other primitive stuff that belong to a hunter. The staff were dressed in cloth that should remind of the stone ages.
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Last edited by Nightsky; September 12th, 2005 at 05:05 PM.
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