Thursday, July 07, 2005

going to Prague

I'm so excited, I've booked a holiday to Prague. I've never been there but it sounds wonderful. It is the ancient capital of Bohemia. I must bone up on some of the history, I like to know the background to places I visit. For example, who were the Premyslid princes? Why was the counter-reformation particularly strong in Prague, resulting in lots of new buildings? And I've just discovered there's lots of musical events while we're there, though it looks as if we'll miss the festival of early music. I must re-read the chapter on Prague in Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time of Gifts, too.

Useful websites: - Prague Information Service

The origin of Prague goes back to the 7th century and the Slavic princess Libuše, a woman of great beauty and wisdom who possessed prophetic powers. Libuše and her husband, prince Přemysl, ruled peacefully over the Czech lands from the hill of Vyšehrad. A legend says that one day Libuše had a vision. She stood on a cliff overlooking the Vltava, pointed to a forested hill across the river, and proclaimed: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." ("Vidím město veliké, jehož sláva hvězd se dotýkati bude."). She instructed her people to go and build a castle where a man was building the threshold (in Czech práh) of a house. "And because even the great noblemen must bow low before a threshold, you shall give it the name Praha". Her words were obeyed and some two hundred years later, the city of Prague became the seat of the Premyslid dynasty.

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