Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Václávske náměstí & Staroměstské náměstí

Walked to Wenceslas Square (Václávske náměstí). Saw the insurance company where Kafka worked (though we didn't realise at the time), the many lovely buldings, especially the Grand Hotel Europa, and the equestrian statue of Sv Václav ("Good King Wenceslas"). We walked to the National musum and saw the memorial to Jan Palach and Jan Zájic, woh set fire to themselves in 1969 in protest against communist repression. It was a sombre moment - what an awful way to die. Then we got the Lonely Planet Guide out and followed the walking tour. Good thing we did or we'd have missed the David Černy version of the Sv Václav statue, which is in the central atrium of the Lucerna Palac. Then we walked through the Franciscan garden and on to the kostel Panny Marie Sněžné (Church of Our Lady of the Snows) which was very tall. We went in, but there was a mass being celebrated, so we lurked at the back. It was very Baroque but the décor was very dark and heavy.

Then we walked up to the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí). We got there just after eleven so we missed the striking of the town hall clock, so we wandered around for a bit admiring everything else, especially the statue of Jan Hus, Our Lady Before Týn and kostel sv Mikuláse. Had a beer in the café opposite the famous clock, and got a good view of its performance. Then we walked to the Jewish quarter, and stopped at the café Franz Kafka for lunch (highly recommended). Then we went to the Staronova Synagoga. It had a very different atmosphere from a church, and the focus of the ritual space was different. We saw the curtain screening off the Ark of the Covenant, where they keep the Torah scrolls; there were apertures in the walls for the women to see in from the women's gallery. Apparently the attic of this synagogue is where the remains of the Prague golem lie.

Walked home via the Charles Bridge and the Mala Strana gardens (the lower slopes of the hill of Petřin). There was lots of nettle-leaved bellflower there, and we had great views of the castle, and from the other side of the ridge, of the rest of Prague.

Seeing the statue of Jan Hus had a peculiar symmetry for me, as when I was in Konstanz in 1988, I saw the place where he was burnt. It was nice to see a place where he was celebrated.

In the evening we went to a Czech food restaurant, Jihočeská restaurace u Šumavy for dinner. Excellent food. The waiter didn't speak any English so we conversed in German instead. I got as far as saying Dobry večer (Good evening) in Czech and that was it, as I had forgotten to take the phrasebook - lucky we had a language in common.

1 comment:

Prague Hotels said...

I recently visited the City of Prague, also known as “the golden city of spires” on Vltava River. I found Prague very attractive, and the thousand-year history was visible particularly in the architecture. The touristy Old Town, the Prague Castle, the Little Quarter and the Jewish Town made a deep impression on me with beautiful medieval, gothic- and baroque-style churches and renaissance residential buildings, museums, cafes and theaters. One could wander through the meandering streets of Prague for days in a row and continuously discover hidden alleyways and unique views.