The city of 100 Spires (10/13/03)

Last updated 11/03/03                                                                                                                                

Praha (or Prague), the "city of 100 Spires" is both the starting and ending point of our European adventures. From the breathtaking gothic architecture in Staré Mĕsto (Old Town), to the medieval castles of Hradčany, Prague offers visiters a smorgasbord of visual delights as they stroll the streets of this eastern european gem. Walking through this city feels like walking inside a fairy-tale, with all of the beautiful cathedrals and castles (equipped with fearsome gargoyles to boot), albiet one in which you run into the occasional tourist.

The architecture of Staré Mĕsto allows a glimpse into the city's distant past. The Tyn Church, with its twin Gothic steeples, dates back to 1365, while the astronomical clock built into the Old Town Hall was built in 1410. At the top of the hour, a procession of metal-carved apostles moves along a track on the outside of the clock to the delight of onlookers -- oh and do you hear that bell that's counting the hour? It's being rung by a rather interesting-looking skeleton which holds the bell's chain in one of its bony hands. As you can see from the pictures, many tourists and locals alike are attracted by the majesty of this portion of town and its generally bustling with people gathering for the clock or just gazing in amazement at the abudance of man-made beauty surrounding them.

The grounds of Prague Castle, one of the oldest castles in the world, offers visitors a variety of sights, ranging from the impressive gothic facade of St. Vitius's cathedral to a little alley with all sorts of old homes, including Franz Kafka's childhood home (which now houses a bookstore), which now sell all sorts of handicrafts. One of the coolest shops we saw in this alley was a shop where you could purchase all sorts of swords and armor. In addition, they had several instruments of torture on display and even offered visitors the ability to take place in target practice with a crossbow -- I really wanted to try out the crossbow, but there was a pretty long line and we didn't have much time, so maybe some other time.

We attended a pretty good classical concert at the national theater, which was interesting because of the seating arrangements. The concert took place at the base of a bunch of staircases (it was even promoted that way in pamphlets, with the location being something like "Base of stairways") --- all of the performers (several violinists, a bass, a cello and a pianist) were located on the base platform while the audience sat on little cushions placed in the stairways. All of the stairways were packed and there must have been something like 200 people there that night. All in all a pretty fun time!


                            Old Town Square

                            In and around the Prague Castle

                            Bridges and museums

              And some more random views of Prague...