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...