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Old September 13th, 2005, 11:10 PM   #1
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Prague trip day 3-5

This is about day 3-5 on our Prague trip. This was the last day in Prague (we should leave the next morning). Prague is divided into districts with numbers (Praha 1, Praha 8 etc), just like Paris. But they also have names. This part is mainly focused on Vysehrad, the high district a bit from the city center, and Nové Mesto. Nové Mesto means New Town in English and is twice as large as Staré Mesto, the Old Town. Nové Mesto was founded in 1348 by king Karl IV and was planned around 3 important marketplaces: Václavské námésti, Karlovo namesti and Senovázné námésti. In the end of the 19th century, many blocks of the New Town where totally reconstructed.

Commie blocks and commie cars at Opatov in the grey outskirts near our hotel.

As usual, we went on the metro, but this town we got off some stations before downtown, in Vysehrad, the district that is situated on a cliff. Vysehrad means “castle on the height”.

The first thing we saw outside the station was the 5 star Corinthia Towers Hotel with its nice glass walled facacde.

From just outside the entrance of the hotel where nice views:

The mirror of Prague in the hotels facade.

This highway goes high above the city on the high bridge Nuselsky most. The first night when we arrived I saw small old houses at Vysehrad below the road.

Corinthia Towers from a distance. It is 83 m tall and has around 600 rooms on 26 floors.

Church of S:t Peter and S:t Paul, the gothic church that dominate central Vysehrad.

The original church was completed in 1129. But in the 13th century it burned down and was replaced by a new church, with a later gothic addition of the twin towers.

The entrance to its beautiful cemetary, that is the country’s national cemetary, where many famous people are buried.

After going through the cemetary, we saw this view from the rock that this part of Vysehrad is situated on. The view was a lot spectacular in reality, I must tell.

Also a very beautiful view.

A closer look to Prague’s 2 tallest buildings: City Tower (ECM Tower, right), 109m and 27 floors reached its full height in 1986 as the country’s tallest building. It was meant to host the Czech radio, but was left incomplete and unoccupied. ECM is about to rebuild it as a mixed use complex. The building will also get a nice new glass façade. Empiria (left) from 1977, is currently the tallest used building in Czech Republic at 104m and 24 floors.

The famous rock above Vltava, from which princess Libuse was said to anticipate the grand future of Prague. The gothic ruin on the top is called Libuse’s bath. It was from there the medieval castle of Vysehrad was defended.

Libuse and Premysl, one of 4 statues by the famous artist Josef Myslbek that are situated in the park of Vysehrad, right in front of the church.

After seeing some more spectacular views from Vysehrad, we walked towards the city center along the boulevard Rasinovo nabi that goes parallel with the river.

Kláster Na Slovanech (Slovanech Abbey Emauzy) was the first interesting building we spotted when walking along the river. It has an impressively modern design because it was destroyed in WW2 and then rebuilt with modern concrete towers.

Ginger & Fred, Prague´s most famous modern office building, looks very strange because of its cool nongeometric cartoonish design. It hosts the exclusive restaurant Perle de Prague.

It is also called Rasín building or the Dancing House because of its strange design and its name from the famous dancers. It was not so big as I expected.

Elegant facades of Rasinovo nabi and Masarykovo nabi (different names of the same river boulevard).

Národni divadlo, the National Theater is in the center of this Masarykovo nabi picture. The theatre has always been a symbol of the Czech cultural renaissance.

When it was completed in the 19th century, the whole building burned down. So they had to rebuild it from the beginning. It is famous for its blue roof and its gold decorations.

A green tram in front of Laterna Magika’s modern glass facade that reflects old buildings opposite. Laterna Magika is the modern annex to the National Theater.

Legíi bridge above River Moldau/Vltava with one of Prague´s characteristic red and white trams and a backdrop of the Prague castle with S:t Vitus.

Petrín Hill with the funiculare we couldn’t find to the left and Petrín Tower that we climbed to the right.

Another old church in the new town.

Karlovo namesti (Charles Square), actually more a park (surrounded by streets trafficated by cars and trams) than a square since the middle of the 19th century. Many interesting buildings surround the large square/park.

The following buildings are situated around Charles Square:

The New Town Hall (Novomestká radnice) is actually as old as from the 14th century. It occupies the whole block in the northern edge of the square. The town hall’s tower can be seen to the right.

The sublime park is very nice with its fountains and flowers.

What is the most interesting, the old Jesuit school or the Hummer?
The very old building Karlovo namesti at has been a hospital since the Jesuits were banned in the middle of the 17th century.

S:t Ignatius Church, a baroque church built for the Jesuits belonging to the nearby school.

Faust House (Faustuv Dum). Prince Václav of Opava, Edward Kelly and count Ferdinand Mladota are all alchemists that lived in this house and gave it its name. Today it doesn’t feel so dramatic, we went inside the courtyard in daylight, and it has been partly painted in ugly pink the latest years. Today it has some medical facilities.

The entrance to the Faust house’s garden.

We are now leaving Karlovo namesti to head for the botanical garden.

The botanical gardens of Prague is owned by the university and was founded by Karl IV.

The garden is a nice place to relax in and is divided into smaller sections divided by bushes and walls. But it doesn’t use the right way of treating the flowers according to my girlfriend.

This view remind a lot of Manhattan´s skyline seen from Empire State Building!? 

A brand new residential building, close to Vinohrady. When we entered the Lidl store in the bottom floor, it felt just like home, but the prices where 1/3 of the one I use to visit in Malmö, Sweden.

The impressive Narodny Museum from the back.

Státni Opera, State Opera, the original old building at Václav Square, not by far as heavily guarded as the new one by some strange reason. Originally it was called The New German Theater because it was built to compete with the Czech theatre. In 1945, the theatre became Prague´s foremost opera house.

Wilsonovo nádrazi, also called Hlavni nadrazi is the largest of Prague’s 4 train stations. It was very worn inside and really need a refurbishment, even if the building is nice with its decorated dome. The annex to the right is Hotel Vesta.

Now we wanted to cross the rails to get to the district Zizkov next to Vinohrady, because we wanted to visit Prague´s famous TV tower.
We a guy around 30 or something about the way and he was very kind and talked about everything from terrorists to how he was too young to remember the communist times and how he had got used to the beautiful buildings after moving to Prague while he walked we us to show us the right way.

Praha TV Tower (televizni vez Zizkov) – finally there it is! At a height of 216m, it is Czech’s by far tallest structure.

It was built during the communist time to prevent the Czech citizens from watching West German TV. But It was not completed until 1992. If this, or the structure’s monsterious architecture visible from the whole city, is the reason why most Prague residents hate the tower, I don’t know.

”Miminka”, an odd artwork of climbing babies where added on the façade by the artist David Cerny in 2001! They seem to be climbing up to the top. Future members of a skyscraper forum may be?

A mother’s worst nightmare!

If Prague was the world…

The views from the observation deck on the top:

It had became cloudy just in time to when we reached the tower. After all, this was also almost the only time it was cloudy on our trip. After all the windows where dirty and it was starting to get dark too, so nevermind…

After watching the views, we went down on the bar in the lower section (8th floor I think) and had a bear in the bar with a view. It was as cheap as all other bars in Prague despite being in a tall TV tower with a view.

Meanwhile we where sitting there it was getting dark. So we went back up again by the fast elevator to see how Prague’s skyline looked after dark.

When going home, we went towards downtown through the surroundings of Vinohrady and Zizkov that were consisting of old beautiful buildings and ugly grey midrise blocks. It was now dark and this district has a nice and mystic atmosphere. We passed the classic shopping arcade Vinohrady Pavilion (an old red beautiful building) that we wanted to visit (it should be open to 9 according to the guide book), but it was closed for reconstruction and modernisation. So unfortunately there will be no more chances to see how it looked in the communist times...

The metro of Prague is clean, fast and comfortable. It is not fantastic, but it is above average. It is small for being in such a large city, it consists of only 3 lines. Every time we had to go back to our hotel, we had to take a 20 min long journey by metro to the Opatov station.

Back on our large hotel room. This is just one of 2 rooms included in our “apartment”.

The next day, we had a delicious hotel breakfast and took the metro to the Václav Square. We decided to spend the day on shopping and seeing some of the last sights. It fitted well, because it was a bit cloudy that Saturday.

Atrium Hilton close to Václav Square. This hotel is definitely more luxurious than our hotel…

The atrium of Hilton with its pyramid glass roof, marble floor, palms and glass enclosed elevators.

The modern mirroring façade of the energy company Eon’s office building opposite from the Hilton.

Hotel Opera with its pink facade. It is a 4 star hotel from 1890.

We passed a market, right next to the hotel, where I bought very cheap clothes from Asian people. It seems like the streets of Prague of are much more empty on Saturdays.

We went inside an old, but large department store called Billa Labut (White Swan) at Na Porici. Despite being its anchor store, it was very worn and the fashion was out of date. And it was very hot inside, it felt like a relic from the communism, but that’s just what I wanted to see.

The view from the furniture department on Billa Labut´s top floor.

Kotva, Prague’s largest department store, is a bit more modern than Billa Labut, but is also a little bit more expensive. Kotva means The Anchor and is situated at Námesti Republiky.

Hotel Mercure.

Old buildings reflecting in a gold coloured glass facade.

S:t Agnes Church at S:t Agnes from Bohemia Abbey (Kláster sv. Anezky Ceské) in Josefov.
The abbey is almost a small town in itself with its quiet narrow cobble streets and yellow old buildings with restaurants and pubs. We sat down here for a while to eat some delicious ultra cheap cakes that we bought in the department store.

Looking up the curvy roof of the abbey, one of Böhmen’s first buildings in gothic style. Agnes, who founded this abbey was the sister of king Václav I. Nowadays, it is used by the national gallery as a museum for Bohemian art.

Different architectural styles and heights in the old town.

More beautiful buildings.

This Lamborghini Gallardo is a contrast to all small and midsized cars of Prague.

Parizská is probably the most exclusive street in the whole Prague.

Not only because of these buildings; the stores, the cars and the restaurants looked very exclusive. Parizská goes between Josefov and Old Town Square.

Staronová Synagoga (the New Old Synagoga) in Josefov from 1270 is Europe´s oldest synagoga and also the first gothic building in Prague! It is a religious center for the Jews even today and has for a long time protected Jews. The famous researcher Rabbi Löw used to sit in a chair in the synagoga. Note the stunning new Mercedes in the front.

A spooky character from Mozart’s Don Juan outside a theatre.

By the way, now we where heading to the Mozart Museum. It is situated in Bertramka, near Andel, and not far in the outskirts as we first thought. We took the metro to Andel and a musician guy wanted us to have his CD with a suspect cover. After I took it, he wanted a donation. I didn’t want to give money to a sect, but I couldn’t avoid it.

This unusual modern glass building was situated at Andel. From there we took the tram to Bertramka.

Bertramka is the villa that is used as a Mozart Museum. Originally a farm from the 17th century, Mozart and his wife Constance lived here as guest to the composer Frantisek Dusek and his wife Josefina in 1787. Mozart composed the overture in the garden just few minutes before the premiere.

It felt like checking in to a 5 star hotel when arriving. The somewhat snobbish staff where waiting at the stairs and took care of our baggage.

Then we “checked in” to see the museum, only consisting of about 4 rooms with instruments and other other things that Mozart used.

There where also a very large new shopping mall in 3 floors with a walkway to a hill that we came back to later, after the Mozart Museum. In the TV department of the hugh 3-story Carrefour hypermarket I was reminded of the New Orleans storm and got the news that the city had been flooded, so we went to an internet café to read more about it.

In the evening, the hotel helped us book room at Klub Architektu, the basement restaurant next to the Bethlehem Church, that we liked very much before. It took much time getting there and we even went the wrong way, but the food was delicious. Tomorrow morning we where supposed to leave Prague, so we ordered both vine, bear and a dessert to the dinner as a grand finale.

Soon to be continued
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Old September 13th, 2005, 11:21 PM   #2
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I love this city

it's like a beatiful jewel..
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