Thursday, July 21, 2005


It's a long walk to Vyšehrad, the site of the original foundation of Prague by Libuše and Přemysl. On the way we passed the dancing building (Tančící dům) and the Emauzy kláster, and called in at the Botanical Gardens, a peaceful oasis where we had our elevenses. We eventually got to Vyšehrad and entered via the Cihelná brána (brick gate), then had a picnic lunch on the ramparts.

Then we walked round to the Vyšehradský hřbitov - the cemetery where Alfons Mucha, Smetana, and Dvořak are buried). It was a fabulous cemetery, particularly the arcading around the edge with the painted ceilings and mosaic tombs. The we went into the church of St Peter and Paul - very beautiful, with lots of paintings by Czech Art Nouveau artists - it was like being inside a William Morris cushion with extra bits by Alfons Mucha. Wild, and completely fabulous.

Outside, we saw the statues of legendary Czechs: Libuše and Přemysl, founders of the Přemyslid dynasty and Prague; Lumír and Píseň (the singer and his muse, Song); Záboj anbd Slavoj (two mythical Czech warriors); and Ctirad and Šárka (the doomed lovers, apparently the subject of an opera by Janáček). Then we walked alomg to the Rotunda of St Martin, which dates from the 11th century. After this we walked back round the ramparts and down Vratislavova to the river, and then back to the hotel.

After a long rest we went back to the Old Town Square to watch the clock striking again. Managed to find the entrance to the church of Our Lady before Týn this time, and walked around the back streets where we found a mad Baroque church that looked as if it had been designed by Josh Kirby (sadly didn't have a camera with us). On the way back to the square we saw the Betlémská kaple - another place associated with the Hussites. Reformist Praguers won permission to hold services in Czech instead of Latin, and built this chapel, which could hold 3000 worshippers. Jan Hus preached there from 1402 to 1412. It was later destroyed in the Counter-Reformation and rebult in the 18th century to the original designs and with some of the original stones and materials. Had dinner in the Franz Kafka café - excellent again.

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