Thursday, June 14, 2012

May 15 - Prague

Big sigh! It's our last day of our trip in Prague. We were supposed to do an optional day trip to Cesky Krumlov and had paid for it. However, while on our tour of Terezin yesterday our guide mentioned that it was a three hour trip there and back. We looked at each other and said, no, not spending our last day stuck on a tour bus. Even though it would be a great place to visit.
It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day and we spent it walking around the city and truly appreciating its beauty.
I had written about Prague here and here. Today we'll trace some of those steps and find new venues.

As we left the hotel DH needed to get some cash so I wandered the little Farmers' Market that was set up.

We walked passed the Municipal House and through the Powder Tower. Powder Tower is adjacent to the Municipal House. In the 13th century, this Gothic Gate was one of thirteen entrances into the Old Town. In the 17th century it stored gunpowder. Wander through Powder Tower to cobbled Celantá Street, and you’ll be strolling down one of the oldest streets in Prague.

We came across the House of the Black Madonna.
Built as a department store between 1911 and 1912 by Josef Gocár, the House of the Black Madonna is one of the finest Cubist buildings in Europe, housing a permanent exhibition of Czech Cubism of the period 1911 to 1919, as well as Czech and international art from the first half of the twentieth century.
She is a copy of the Black Madonna of Loreto and locals say: "She is like an address sign." Indeed, many of the old houses in Prague bear some kind of image by which they are identified. At least this Madonna was important enough to be saved when the old house she used to adorn was destroyed.

At times during the morning it looks overcast but it brightens up as the day went on.

Located next to Old Town Hall, the Minute House (once a tobacconist's shop) was Franz Kafka's childhood home. The Renaissance-era house has black and white designs covering the facade. The lane leads from  Old Town Square to Charles Bridge.

Along the way we encountered a mime.

We wandered through the Old Town Square and into the Jewish Quarter heading towards the river.
Down by the river we came across this statue who struck my fancy.

Then we came to this great sculpture to the Czech artist Josef Manes, I had never heard of him, but found one of his paintings online that I put just below. He painted portraits and genre scenes with detailed representations of Czech costumes. Mánes also illustrated the medallions (thumb sketches) of calendar disc of the Astronomical Clock (Horologe) on the Old Town Square hall, the story of Dr. Faust (1858) and Czech folksongs (1856-62).

 Romantic Postcard, c.1910 Giclee Print

Great beer ads on the edge of the bridge.

The bridge looking towards the Charles Bridge

Once across the bridge our mission is the monastery located somewhere behind the Church of St. Vitus at the top of the hill. The other day when we went to the Castle we went up the easy way directly from the Charles Bridge. Today we took another bridge and we climbed the old Castle stairs.
Old Castle Steps (Staré zámecké schody) - the stairs start near the Malostranská metro station and put us at the beginning of Jiřská street. It is a tough climb but we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful views of Prague.

That was a thirsty climb so we stopped for a beer at Lobkowicz Palace, the terrace had amazing views of the city. The Lobkowicz Palace at the Prague Castle used to be a residence of the noble family of Lobkowicz.

Records indicate that Prague Castle is the largest castle area in the world. Its three courtyards and a number of magnificent buildings cover over 7 hectares (18 acres), so we were prepared to see a lot and do some walking. I had posted about the Castle the other day so I won't go into any detail here.

 One of the large courtyards, the following photos were all taken in this courtyard.

We continue strolling through the Castle district and came upon The Loreto.
Prague's Loreto, known simply as the Loreta in Czech, is referred to as a sanctuary or a palace. But what is the Loreto? The Loreto is a religious pilgrimage site that was built in commemoration of the legend of a cottage said to have been the home of the Virgin Mary, which was transported with divine help to Loreto, Italy, centuries before Prague's 18th century Loreto was built. To promote Catholicism, dozens of copies of the Loreto were erected in the Bohemian region.

It is a remarkable sight consisting of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, a Holy Hut and clock tower with a world famous chime that has been situated in Prague Hradčany for more than 300 years.

It was a former church of the Lobkowitz family (the founders of the church).  The Capuchin monks (whose monastery  with the Church of the Holy Angel Virgin is situated in the neighbourhood) take care of Loreta.

In 1140 King Vladislav II built a new monastery on the approach route to the Prague Castle. The monastery, which became known as the Strahov monastery wasn't much of a success until 1143, when a group of Premonstratensians settled here.
The Premonstratensians are a Roman Catholic order of canons founded in 1120 by St. Norbert. They are also known as the Norbertians or White Canons.

The name “Strahov” means “guarding place”, because it is situated near the former road to the princely castle, which was guarded.
This is the library which  houses over 16,000 books.

Klášterní pivovar Strahov (Strahov Monastery Brewery) is our stop for lunch.
The brew pub and St. Norbert Restaurant are divided into separate buildings with a pleasant outdoor area in between. The historic brewery dates back to the 17th century and brews the very tasty St. Norbert beer (amber and dark).

 Our guide, Monika, had mentioned in passing that we had to go to the monastery to have a kind of cheese. I didn't quite catch the name but had remembered her mentioning how delicious it was. And there it was on the menu.  Nakládaný Hermelin is a garlicky Czech specialty. Hermelin is a bloomy rind cheese similar to brie, and it is pickled in big ol’ jars of spiced oil made heady by garlic, peppers, and onion. It was absolutely delicious. We ordered a bunch (too many) appetizers in an effort to try lots of different things and we weren't disappointed!
 Middle platter contains ham, homemade sausage, duck pate and head cheese.

 After all that food it was time to stroll through back down to the river.
The views of this storybook city were magnificent from the monastery grounds.
Looking back at the monastery

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your photo tour and commentary of Prague. It is a beautiful city.


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