Last Day in Prague

Trip Start Dec 05, 2013
Trip End Dec 22, 2013

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Hlavní město Praha,
Friday, December 13, 2013

The day before had been a bit foggy, so the goal of today was to walk up the hill to Prague Castle. The Castle is north of the river (nearer to my hostel than the city center), so I started my short hike up.  On the way, I was pleased to pass some not-so-touristy shops including a bakery with marzipan animals like my Oma makes!! I love Marzipan animals, and I always will.  Continuing up the hill, I passed the castle walls and finally came to the castle center.  The hill is almost a little city within itself, with a number of buildings and a small square outside the main gate of the castle. Even when I say "castle" what I mean is a small complex of buildings and palaces, most notably St. Vitus Cathedral.  I decided to take a guided tour at 12:30, leaving me about an hour to tour the other buildings.  I went to the Golden Way, a small street at the end of the complex that was once inhabited by goldsmiths.  This is also the location of Franz Kafka's old home.  I walked through the quaint little buildings, some made to look like the former residences with replica furniture and décor, some converted to shops.  I actually really enjoyed the little replica houses, with their meager workspaces and tiny beds.

Before long it was time for my tour.  I snapped a quick picture at the south end of the wall (looking out into the city of Prague), and then headed back to St. Vitus Cathedral.  The Cathedral is designed in the gothic style, with large and numerous buttresses and towering steeples.  The tour entered the Cathedral and took us directly to my main point of interest.  The Cathedral is a stylistic wonder, due in large part to the 6-centutry construction time. The project ran out of money a number of times, and was only completed in the beginning of the 20th century. The front of the Cathedral is done in the neo-gothic style, with a few art nouveau accents.  The main attraction for me was the stained glass window designed by my new favorite Czech, Alfonse Mucha.  The giant window depicts a number of scenes from Slavic history, all with the intense facial expressions that define the style.  The coloration forms a beautiful spectrum of red and yellow in the center, to green, and then a cold blue/violet on the outline. It is a truly awe-inspiring piece.

The other big attractions in the Cathedral were the graves of the first rulers of Bohemia, a very ornate, all silver grave of some really important priest whose name escapees me, and the grave of St. Wenceslas.  St. Wenceslas is very important to the Czech people, which is why so many buildings, streets, squares, and bridges are named after him.  This room was beautifully decorated in gold leaf and images of angels flanking the grave.

After the Cathedral, we were taken for a short tour of the main palace.  We saw the throne room, where heads of state would discuss political matters, and a replica crown and scepter.  We walked through a great hall that had actually been used for jousting in the winter! It was an impressive space, but the real draw of the tour was the Cathedral.

My last stop on the castle hill was the Lobkowvicz Palace. This unassuming building was less a palace and more a museum of old family artifacts.  They had a number of paintings, jewels, and well decorated arms, but the most amazing piece was definitely the music room.  A member of the Lobkowvicz family had been very instrumental in funding Mozart, and in some ways is accredited as the reason that Mozart felt so free to compose some of his best works.  As such, some of the original composition sheets, with hand written notes and corrections, from Mozart and Beethoven were on display.  I was really impressed by these pieces. 

I only spent a short time at the Lobkowvicz Palace before heading back to the hostel to pick up my bags.  I said goodbye to my little kitty friend WiFi, and headed into the city center. The plan was to grab some food in the Christmas Market and then walk over to the train station for my 6:40pm train. I had some delicious potatoes with peppers, onions, and ham, and I grabbed some fatty sausages for the road.  At the station, I found my train listing, but noticed there wasn’t a platform listed. I figured correctly that it was simply too early to post the platform.  I began to walk around the station. 
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