Well here we are again, back in late May of 2011 and it was a fantastic night last night walking around this magnificent city. Now, after a goodnight’s sleep it’s time to take in as much as we can on day 2 in the Czech Republic’s city of Prague!
And…We are off. Good Morning beautiful!
A little look down the street from our room… priceless!
So our backpacks are now packed and ready to go so we set off for the castle! It’s quite a long walk so we decided to take the trolley up the hill. Remember, the castle towers above the rest of the city so unless you want to walk all the way up, our advise would be to do the same and grab a ride!
See all the lines above the street, those are for the buses and trolley cars. It’s a maze getting around down there but it’s also quite a thrill so hold on and watch the excitement around you!
It’s not a long ride, so after we hopped off and bought our tickets, we were headed up! Drop off came just right outside the front gates, and since there was both a castle AND a cathedral in today’s agenda, I could hardly wait to start! Just ask Paul, I’m a little crazy when it comes to both of these things. (A little bit of “us” information… everywhere we go, I have to be ready to inform my other half of all things history, so I’ve done what research I could before hand to be prepared!)
And, here we are…
We’ve made it to the top! Tickets are in hand and we are ready to rock n’ roll! As we get closer, this view came into sight and my heart started to flutter!
There it was… St. Vitus Cathedral. The correct name is The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and an excellent example of Gothic architecture. It is also the largest and most important church in the country, containing tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.
Here we get even closer yet! Can you tell I’m a little excited?
But first, we actually have to get inside, and you must enter by this…
Once we get inside, it’s like walking in a city by itself. The people are everywhere, cars going in and out… remember, the castle is also the Presidential residence.
So the little history of the castle. Cunstruction began in 870 when its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built. The Basilica of Saint George (which we will go in shortly) and the St. Vitus Cathedral were founded under the reign of Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia and his son, St. Wenceslas (yes, from the Christmas song) in the first half of the 10th century.
Here is Paul standing in front of the Cathedral, which he now tells me we should do after we tour the castle, you know, just to make me wait!
So we start our tour of the castle, which mind you, takes a long time to do! remember, this is the largest castle in the world and we want to see as much of it as we can! Sadly, photos are not allowed inside most area’s, so you just need to book your plane ticket and get there so you can see the inside for yourself!
Now there is an actual “town” inside the castle where all the servants lived. It’s really neat to walk around since they have them furnished like in the olden days. These areas are much newer than the ancient parts of the castle… they had things like movie theaters and pubs! Here’s one of the kitchens that is stocked and ready to go!
This is the room of a very famous fortune-teller back in the day, (I can’t remember the specifics, but the story goes something like this…) She was famous for actually telling your fortune correctly, and was hunted during one of the wars that was going on at the time. She used this home as her hide out where she managed to stay hidden for quite some time but was ultimately found and met a terrible and tragic end to her life… When we go back, because we will be going back someday, I will get the actual story in writing and share with you! But here is her room.
So this little village inside the castle has a very intriguing build design… take a look and see if you can spot anything out of the ordinary.
You probably won’t be able to guess it by this picture, because the man standing by the green framed doorway is rather short, but all of the doorways were made very low to the ground. The reason: The people of Bohemia were very short people, but the rest of Europe was not! Back in the days of war, whenever the castle was invaded, the residence would scurry inside their homes without having to duck while the intruders would immediately hit their heads on the door frame and crash out! Genius if you ask me!
Take a look at the average size man from that period! (yes i know, I would be included in that “short” category back then!)
So… moving on! Here are some pictures of the area’s where we could take pictures!
Armour from way back in the day! And more weapons used throughout the history of the castle.
Could you see yourself wearing these clothes everyday?
Pretty neat stuff right?
Even though you couldn’t take picture inside the castle, I did manage to sneak these of one of the ceilings from the private chapel the kings used. I just couldn’t help myself… Now can you imagine what you’re missing out on in the rest!?
So now we have made it to the other end of the castle and it’s time to turn around and head you. know. where!
But on our way back, we had to stop and take in this view! Yes, Prague really is this beautiful!
Onward we go, but let’s just stop one more place… This place!
Remember yesterday me telling you about the castle and the Thirty Years War, well this is the window where it started. The Defenestration of Prague to be exact. Three representatives of the Habsburg were tossed out of these windows. As the story is told, they didn’t meet their demise from being tossed out of the window, but instead they landed on a parked cart of fresh manure. And so the “spark” ignited. Curious about more, go read for yourself! It’s quite the story! The history that has touched this place is really incomprehensible, as it seems each part of European history has a print left behind here. Another one of my favorites, is the Empress Maria Theresa (who we will learn much more about when we make it to Vienna!) who carried out the last major rebuilding of the castle.
But getting on with our walk towards the cathedral! First though, we have to visit St. George’s Basilica.
The basilica was enlarged in 973 with the addition of the Benedictine St. George’s Abbey, pictured above. The Baroque facade dates from the late 17th century and currently holds the 19th century Bohemian art collection of the National Gallery of Prague. It also doubles as a concert hall! (Paul, when you read this… hint hint!)
Here is the interior!
Pretty remarkable if you ask me!
SO…. let’s take these last few steps together before we hit the big one. And by big, I mean BIG!
Look at this detail…
And finally, we get to go inside!
The height from floor to ceiling? 109 feet. The tallest tower? 317 feet.
The construction on the present day cathedral began in 1344, when the see of Prague was elevated to an archbishopric. King John of Bohemia laid the foundation stone for the new building.
One of the most outstanding places in the cathedral, is the chapel of St. Wenceslas, which houses relics of the saint. The chapel is pictured below.
Another piece of amazement, the tomb of Nepomuk, is yet another interesting person to read about. Basically, Jan Nepomuk, (1340-1393) a vicar of Prague, refused to reveal confessional secrets of King Wenceslas IV’s wife. He was tortured and thrown off of the Charles Bridge where is body floated for some time surrounded by a halo of stars. He was beautified in 1721 and canonized in 1729. His tomb contains two tons of silver.
Here are a few more from inside…
Here’s my organ!
A few from the vaults below…
The sculpting though… Incredible.
And one more from the vaults.
Here was a tomb that was on the main floor…
History… Everywhere is history.
And that brings us to the end of our time in Prague… Time to head back to the hotel, pack and get on the road! Next stop, the incredible city of Vienna!
I so hope you have enjoyed the city of Prague and all it has to offer. What we have seen here is a sliver of what the rest of the city has to offer. Out of all of our travels in Europe so far, this city takes the cut on being the finest, for many reasons. If you are to ever make the journey, make it a point to see Prague. You will not be disappointed. Trust me!
Until next time, and as always, stay tuned!