Where did all these people come from?

April 23-27 – Prague, Czech Republic

Dobry Den Nate (that’s “Good Day” in Czech):

Our stay in Rothenburg was over, so it was time to take another train trip. This time we’re going to Prague, which is in a country called The Czech Republic. It used to be part of a larger country called Czechoslovakia, but a few years ago they decided to spit into two countries. The other part of Czecheslovakia is now called Slovakia.

The picture below is a special train car that just shuttles between Rothenburg and Steinach. This was the same train we arrived on.

Train between Rothenburg and Steinach

After another train change in Ansbach, we made it to Nuremburg again, were we had time for a quick lunch in the train station (left) before catching the train that would take us all the way to Prague (right).

Nuernburg train station Train to Prague

The main square in Prague is much bigger than the squares in Rothenburg and Munich. It’s really huge, and is full of lots of people at all hours of the day. By the time we left, we’d decided Prague was the most crowded place we’d visited.

Main square in Prague

Looming over the square, but partly hidden behind some buildings, is the Tyn church. The steeples on this church look like no other church I’ve ever seen, with lots and lots of pointing things. They told me the church is 600-700 years old.

Tyn Church, Prague

Just around the corner in another, smaller square that feeds into the main square, is an amazing 600 year old clock. It’s got a lot of hands and dials; I’m not sure I can read it. Don says that this clock tells the hour, the phase of the moon, the position of the sun and the sign of the zodiac. It also tells the number of hours since sunset, and something called “Babylonian Time”. Don started to look and sound kinda funny when he tried to explain this part, so I guess I’ll just have to take his word for it.

Astronomical clock in Prague

The clock also puts on a show every hour, chiming the hour and showing statues of the apostles. Pretty neat clock!

One of the main reasons we wanted to come to the Czech Republic was that part of Linda’s family came from here. Her dad’s family were Moravian (that’s what they call the eastern part of the Czech Republic). We didn’t actually spend time in Moravia, Prague is in an area called Bohemia.

Prague is divided in two by a river, the Vltava (yes that really IS how it is spelled). Connecting the two halves is a pedestrian bridge, the Charles Bridge. It was built more than 600 years ago out of stone.

Over time they added statues to the bridge, and today it can be a very crowded place during the day, as tourists move between the two halves of town. One thing that makes it crowded is the artists and performers who set up along the bridge and try to sell things to the people going by.

Charles Bridge (Prague)

On one side of the bridge is the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. On the other side is the town square in old town. Here’s what the castle and cathedral look like all lit up at night, from the middle of the Charles Bridge.

Prague Castle from Charles Bridge at dusk

We spent the better part of a rainy day exploring the castle and cathedral grounds. We had to pass a guard to get inside. I said “Hi!”, but he didn’t move. I’m not sure he’s real. He looked real. His gun really looked real.

Prague Castle guard

The Cathedral part of the grounds was cool. The cathedral had rain spouts on the roof that were made to look like monsters. Don says these are called “gargoyles”. I asked “Is that because they gargoyle the water in their throats before they spit it out?”. Don said nobody likes a smart guy.

Prague Cathedral Prague Cathedral porch Gargoyle on the roof of Prague Cathedral

Inside the cathedral is pretty neat too.

St. Vitus interior; Prague Jan Nepomuk monument, Prague Cathedral Prague Castle window

We visited the rest of the Castle grounds, including another smaller and much older church, St. George’s Basilica, on the grounds, and an area called “Golden Lane”, which is a bunch of really small houses (now shops) built into the exterior castle wall itself. After this, we headed back into town.

St. Georges Basilica, Prague Castle Side altar, church in Prague Castle Prague Castle courtyard Golden Lane, Prague Castle

Back in old town, we went to see an opera, “Don Giovanni” by Mozart. Mozart was really loved by the people of Prague, and he performed this opera the first time in Prague, in the same theater we saw it in.

Interior of Estates Theater, Prague Interior of Estates Theater, Prague

We spent a half day seeing the sights in the old Jewish section of Prague, called “Josefov”. Most of the original buildings have been replaced, with the exception of some synagogues and graveyards. This picture shows a section of a graveyard where it got so crowded there’s almost more gravestones than grass. We also went into one synagogue where they had written the names on the walls of all the Jewish people of Prague who died in WWII. 80,000 names. It was very very sad.

Jewish graveyard, Prague

One day we went to Wenceslas square. This is a bigger square than the square in old town and it really isn’t square. It’s more of a rectangle. They still call it a square. At one end is a statue of Wenceslas; he ruled Bohemia (the western part of the Czech Republic) as a duke over a thousand years ago. He’s the guy they wrote the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” about. He never really was a king, but he was pretty important and he shows up a lot in Prague. He was made a saint by the church, and is now the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

Wenceslas square (Prague)

Here’s another statue of Wenceslas on his horse. This one is hanging from a ceiling in a shopping arcade, and the horse is upside down with Wenceslas sitting on the horse’s stomach. No, I don’t know why. At the end of Wenceslas square with the statue is the National Museum, with a really elegant staircase.

Wencelas\' upside-down horse (Prague) Wenceslas Square (Prague) Staircase at National Museum (Prague)

Don took photos at night again.

Kampa Square (Prague) Prague Castle by night Municipal House and Powder Tower at night (Prague)

The last photo shows the Powder Tower (used to be part of the town wall, now torn down) and Municipal house. We had a light dinner here, and went to a musical concert.

Street signs (Prague) Lunch by Bethlehem Chapel (Prague)

Even though there were places to get “American food”, (see signs above) Don insisted we avoid places like KFC and eat at local restaurants. At one place where we had lunch they had a ‘pretzel tree’ on the table. The charged you for any pretzel you ate. They had other yummy food there too.

We also visited the Strahov Monastery Library in the Castle district. The library has two fabulously decorated rooms. You can’t go in, but you can look at them from the doorway. Wow!

Strahov Monastery Library (Prague) Strahov Monastery Library (Prague)

After visiting the library, we went to the back of the monastery where they had a little café overlooking the castle and the town and had some lunch.

Flat Stanley eating lunch at Strahov Monastery (Prague)

Going back through town we went past a little open-air market, like the one we had seen in Munich but smaller.

Marketplace in Prague

Well: it looks like that’s it for Prague. We’re going to do something different tonight, we’re going to take an overnight train to Krakow (in Poland). That means we’ll be in a little train compartment with beds and we’ll sleep on the train in bunk beds. This sounds like fun!

Na Shledanou! (that’s “good bye” in Czech)

Hladký Stanley

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