Prague : A feast for the eyes and heart.
Prague Travel Blog› entry 15 of 268 › view all entries
PragueâŠah PragueâŠâsighââŠMy word. Whether to write a journal entry for or a love letter to this fabulous city? Ok, Iâll spare you the latter, but itâs a pretty darned special place. I can see why latterly my parents so much enjoyed their trip or two here. My time in this centre of Bohemian history and culture is bathed in adoration every step of the way. I think this city is a reeeal little chocolate box of delights. A new building; church; street; square or view to delight the senses at every turn it sometimes seems. This too is true of many other beautiful European cities, but something about PragueâŠI dunno?âŠ just gels better; works better for the soul.
Following a breakfast chat with a pleasant Sri-Lankan doctor in the peculiar bunker-like breakfast basement of the Chili Hostel I head out riverwards. The sun still sleeps, snug and warm beneath itâs vast blanket of comforting cotton wool clouds.
An hour or so flicking through Isobelâs âTime Out Guide to Pragueâ whilst she was out on the lash last night has given me a few pointers as to what to go check out, but I pretty much just grab a free tourist map of the city from the hostel reception and start strolling.
Now in Mala Strana and heading up some winding, steep roads towards Prague Castle, one of the sights that dominates the city landscape when viewed from afar. The largely walled castle grounds is principally comprised of The Old Royal Palace and Pragueâs most impressive cathedral St.Vitus. As I queue outside the cathedral mild rain threatens and umbrellas are prematurely popped up by doom-mongering tourists, but thankfully it never comes. The cathedral contains some of the most beautiful, intricate and vibrantly coloured stained-glass windows I have yet seen, however I suspect these are more contemporary than historic. I really couldnât say? Also at the rear of the cathedral nave rest the remains of the canonised St.
Within the castle walls are accesses to various parts of the historic castle, palace and exhibitions therein (varying priced passes will obtain varying levels of access to these sights) and also Golden Lane, a quaint stretch of tiny little medieval terraced residences (built in the days when EVEN I would have been in danger of bumping my head on door-tops!) now occupied by various money-sucking tourist-trap-crap shops.
Back at the base of the pedestrian hill (a long, wide stairway down called StarĂ© ZĂĄmeckĂ©) and now time for a change of scene. A little splash of green in the quiet Wallenstein Gardens. A real little gem set in the sunshine today, and away from the main thoroughfare. A small(ish) well kept garden arrangement of plants, hedge-bordered paths and water features including a pretty pond inhabited by large carp fish which your eyes follow about whilst lone peacocks (the menâs feathers having fallen for the season already) strut about the periphery. You move through the garden to a strange and impressive high wall of artificial drip-stone âstalactiteâ formations.
In the heart of Mala Strana (The âLesser Quarterâ) you will come across and MUST visit the Church of St.Nicholas. Do not hesitate to hand over the pitiful entry sum of 70 krona as you will not regret it. This church is absolutely one of the most ornate and beautiful high-Baroque style churches I think that I have been in so far on my travels (and remains so at the time of writing/ early Oct 2008).
âOh my GOSH!ââŠ so much seen I could (yes, you know I could!) fill pages waxing lyrical about the treasures to be found in and around Pragueâs many and winding, pedestrian-friendly city streets, squares and avenues!
Still on the Mala Strana side of the Vlatva river more quaint churches and the fabulously colourful and creatively schizophrenic âJohn Lennon Wallâ.
Mooching back in the direction of The Charles Bridge there seems to be a queue for an imminently departing boat tour trip up and down the Vlatva river so I think âwhat the heck, yep for 200 krona Iâm hoppinâ on board too!â The weather is now staggeringly hot (the hottest of my journey so far!) so a good time to be kickinâ up your feet and floating down river.
I stroll back across The Charles Bridge now and into the medieval centre of the city. Specifically the Old Town Square (Stavo Mestske Namesti) a fab, large pedestrianised space where cycle-taxis, horse and carriages and even a pair of newlyweds happily congregate amidst the throngs of tourists and touring groups here to see the sights. Here again you are spoilt for choice as to where to put your eyes first! Another grand church by the name again of St.
Aaaagh!!âŠ so much to recall!âŠ the opera house; some other impressive tower thingamy; the synagogue; the mighty Wenceslas Square with the gold-domed National Museum at the top of the hill and a fab temporary photographic exhibition of the radical and satirical photo-journalists and cartoonists that continued to work anonymously before and after the Soviet tanks rolled into town to begin the occupation exactly 40 years ago this year; the building and shop facades with their occasional frescoed frontages; and theâŠ and theâŠ AND THEâŠ and it just keeps on coming âtil the sun goes down and beyond.