Prague and Last Day of Trip
Trip Start Apr 28, 2014
25Trip End May 23, 2014
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Where I stayed
Kampinski Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic
The tour that we all did together was of the Estates Theater where Amadeus Mozart himself conducted the world premiere of his Don Giovanni in 1787--the theater was only 4 years old at the time. It is where Milos Forman shot his famous movie Amadeus, shortly before it was closed down for renovations in 1983. Drama, opera and ballet are performed there nowadays. It was very beautiful especially since it's done in blues and golds instead of the reds and golds that are typical. After our tour, we were taken to the Mozart salon where a quartet performed for us a selection of Mozart's music.
We then walked to the old Jewish Quarter which doesn't have as many old buildings left as the Old Town section does. There are several synagogues still standing but only the first one that we visited (the Old-New Synagogue) is still used for services. We saw an old graveyard that was quite large and had lots of headstones with symbols on them that we were told indicated what the deceased did for a living. This one with the hands, I was told by one of the men in our group, indicated that the dead man was descended from priestly stock (Kohanim) who blessed the people in this fashion. He also said that Star Trek's Vulcan salute is based on this as Leonard Nimoy is Jewish.
We took a little coffee/tea break after this so the guide could talk about what happened to the Jews from this district during WWII. Then we were off to two other former synagogues that are now museums. The walls of the Pinkus synagogue hold the longest epitaph in the world, listing the names of those from Prague who died in the Nazi concentration camps. It also houses the permanent exhibition of children's drawings from Terezín. Terezín functioned as a transit camp between 1941 and 1945 where Jewish inmates were held before shipment east to extermination camps and the kids drew and painted what they saw. It's amazing that the drawings survived to tell the children's story.
Our group met again, and for the last time, for a private tour of the Lobkowicz art collection and a dinner in the palace. It was a great tour because it tied in with the art and history that we had seen and heard during other parts of the tour and the dinner was delicious and a nice ending to the trip.