After making coffee in our room and having yogurt and fruit (our hotel room had a small fridge - so very handy) we walked to the nearby metro station and took our first (and last) ride on Prague's metro. I found the metro dated but it worked ("London's is so much better" I whined to myself knowing full well London had much more money to support such a system) Our destination: Prague Castle.
Prague Castle dates from the 9th century and is currently home to the President of the Czech Republic. It is a huge complex and when you buy your admission ticket there are different packages. We got a package that let us visit the caste itself, the Golden Lane, St Vitus Cathedral and St George Basilica.
Our first glimpse of St Vitus cathedral was after a short walk through a passageway and into a courtyard where it's suddenly in your face. You would have to be a real jaded traveler not to have a "wow" escape your lips...yes even pouty Laurie was impressed..it was beautiful. Claudia had thought our tickets didn't allow admission to the cathedral but they did so we visited later...however here are some photos of inside AND out.
|I love all the scary gargoyles on the sides of churches|
I have to point out that we entered the castle through one of the back entrances which was less than impressive; we left out of the main entrance which was much more grand. We realized the Changing of the Guard was happening although due to crowds we could not get anywhere near it. We did see a few soldiers marching but nothing too impressive..
We then headed over to St Georges Basilica which was founded in the early 9th century.
I loved the colourful facade of the Basilica.
Next up was the Golden Lane which was my favourite part of the castle complex...
These are where the trades people lived. Some are now operated as shops while others have been restored to what they may have looked like back in the day.
We then wandered back to the beautiful gardens we had seen upon our entry. They were lovely and provided a respite from the tourist crowds.
We then walked back through the complex which is when we visited the interior of St Vitus cathedral (once we discovered we could visit there was a huge line to get in; after our garden visit the tour group had left) and we then found ourselves at the main entrance of the Castle.
We then had lunch. Our lunches tended to be heavy and then we snacked in the hotel room in the evening...
Ta da! The best meal I had in Prague...Beef and Czech dumplings with cream and cranberries...it was absolutely wonderful. I did have some great food in Prague I must admit.
From there we wandered around the area first stopping to look at the Loreto which is one of Bohemia's most important centres of Christian pilgrimage. It dates back to 1620 when the Hapsburgs built replicas of the Santa Casa of Loreto in Italy all over their land.
I had read in my small Berlitz guide on Prague (I highly recommend these guides - small enough to fit in a pocket but jam packed with all sorts of information..heck I am referring to it right now) about the area near the castle called Nový Svět (meaning "New World) which was the poorest part of the Castle district and therefore left undeveloped. Claudia and I spent a happy half hour walking around admiring the buildings and taking photographs.
We then walked back closer to the castle complex area and sat and enjoyed the view...
We stayed admiring this view for quite a while...you can see why....
The tram ride was fun and once back on the other side of the river we walked over to Wenceslas Square again.
We then headed back towards the Old Town...we had to stop at this pastry shop...I can vouch for the pastries being made on the left....very tasty.
And then there was a market...however mostly bric brac and nothing I wanted except one or two postcards...
We had to visit this market - although it was more a bric brac market and we came away empty handed except for a couple of postcards...
This might have been interesting to visit...
Heading back to the hotel we walked through the Old Town Square. This is the Old Town Hall - unique because it is made from several different houses as you can see from this angle.
Below is the famous Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square from 1490. It is quite the production when it goes off every hour with Death consulting his watch and pulling a bell, Christ and the Apostles appear and the crowing of a cock ends the proceeding. Getting a good view without being jostled (and keeping an eye on your belongings) is difficult with the hoardes of tourists that gather to watch the spectacle. This was mid April...I can't even fathom what summer must be like.
The Church of Our Lady before Tyn
Back to our hotel as it had been a long day. The next day we went to Kutna Hora and from there back to Germany.
I'd definitely revisit Prague sometime in the future....not for a few years though...and not when I am tired! I dream of walking those streets again with my camera meandering down the narrow streets with no particular agenda...it really is a photographer's delight.