Friday, 14 November 2008

Prague - Part II

Sorry to have been 'away' for so long. I had company, you know. They left today, which is very sad, but they needed to go home and play with their new Granddaughter Nelly and we need to get ready for Thanksgiving, not to mention a few other upcoming events, like going to Manchester to see Simon tomorrow.

Also, we've changed Internet Service Providers (from Tiscali to BT) and there was a bit of down time in the transition. I'm hoping the service will be a bit more reliable. It would be true to say it couldn't be any worse, but then I'm afraid I'll jinx us by saying that.

So, about Prague. It's a wondrous and foreign place, but funny enough we've all been singing about it at Christmas since childhood. "Good King" Wenceslas was a Duke of Bohemia and St Stephen (of the feast) is also a local martyr. The story about Wenceslas and his brother is startling: Wenceslas was murdered by his brother Boleslav who later made a big deal of placing his brother's remains in the cathedral. When Wenceslas posthumously acquired sainthood, Boleslav managed somehow to bolster his own status as the new king, having a saint in the family. I think he would have done well in 'communications / public relations', don't you?

It's all a bit hair-raising but so was much of that period in history. And Prague definitely has history. Wikipedia talks about the beginnings of the castle at Prague as being around 590, but they have found prehistoric relics that long predate that time. I know, it all sounds very dry, but perhaps some pictures will liven this up.

The first thing that hits me is always the amazing architecture. I think I'm first drawn to the Victorian, but there is a huge amount of Art Nouveau and a bit of Cubism, and not a little of the stern looking statues on what Bill and I called "The People's Buildings" as of course
Prague was behind the Iron Curtain for a good while, but it took us a while to discover all those.

The first day we walked from the hotel along the riverside to the Charles Bridge. I almost didn't get there because I was so busy taking pictures along the way.

It wasn't raining, but it was misty and everyone commented on how romantic the river looked.

The bridge was having major repairs, but it was still open and still amazing. (Click on the pictures to make them bigger).

We passed by this gateway many times in the few days we were there and each time, I felt compelled to photograph it, just because it was so amazing to me each time I saw it again. Crazy, I know.

Charles Bridge, constructed in the 14th Century, is lined on both sides with replicas of statues (the real ones are now in a museum).

These statues are not all sweetness and light, but then neither was life in the 1300's.

I can't tell you who these three were, but the pigeons (as usual) had no respect for them.

This guy had an interesting story. Apparently he was the priest to whom King Wenceslas' queen made her confessions. King W thought she might be having an affair, but this guy, John Nepomucene, refused to break the confidence of the confessional and so King W had him bagged up and thrown into the the Vltava River where he drowned. The story is that when he was thrown in 5 stars flew out of the bag (or were reflected from the sky onto the water) and he became the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional and, bizarrely enough, a 'patron against calumnies' and 'a protector from floods'. Personally, I don't quite follow the logic, but you have to respect his commitment to his beliefs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a little hard to write with a lap dog, but I'll try. Prague is now definitely on my list of places I want to see -- eventually. We will have to come into some money, because the retirement and prices that keep going higher will not do it.