Our last day in Europe - Prague's rich history

Trip Start Jun 24, 2012
Trip End Jul 09, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ibis Hotel
What I did
Everything you could walk to.

Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Thursday, July 5, 2012

Today in Prague, we covered many, many miles on foot, led by an excellent local tour guide named Simona.  We began at the entrance to the old castle complex, standing atop a hill overlooking the Vitava River and the city of Prague. 

Within the complex, we visited various palace buildings, courtyards and gardens.  St. Vitus Cathedral stands within the palace grounds and is a magnificent building full of sculptures, stained and painted glass windows, reliquaries and altars.  The stained glass windows were on the western side were glowing with the morning sun, sending complex patterns of colored light onto the chapels lining the interior of the cathedral.  On the eastern side, there is a gorgeously painted window by the famed artist, Alphonse Mucha.

From within the walls of the courtyard adjacent to the cathedral, we stepped down into a newly renovated garden which offers wide-open views across the river to Prague.  You can see the many spires and towers in the old city, the river boats cruising along the Vitava, and the little Eiffel Tower that has been built on top of a neighboring hill by local admirers of Paris.

From the garden, we walked down through castle town to the Charles Bridge.  It was covered with people admiring the view and the statues of saints that line its length.  There were crafts-people and souvenir-sellers offering their wares, along with musicians and photographers.

We went into the old town of Prague again, to the central square.  There is an astronomical clock which chimes on the hour and presents a rotating view of the 12 apostles through little blue windows.  At the same time, a trumpeter comes out on the top of the tower to play a short tune for the crowd assembled below.

Our afternoon brought us deep into the Jewish history of the city.  We visited several synagogues, all located in a very small area of the town -- which for much of its history it was a completely segregated community.  We walked through the old Jewish cemetery located between two of the synagogues, the Old Synagogue and the Old-New Synagogue, which held layer upon layer of graves due to the fact that the location of Jewish burials was restricted for so many centuries.

Another famous citizen of Prague, Franz Kafka, is memorialized in an appropriately strange statue by the Spanish Synagogue.  The statue stands on a mosaic of a giant cockroach, and shows Kafka seated on his own shoulders.

Our last evening in Prague was an idyllic one.  As a summer storm came over us and rain fell, we floated along the Vitava River in a boat named Slapy.  From every vantage point, we saw wonderful views of the castle, the city of Prague, the bridges and the people out enjoying the evening.  As dusk fell, lights came on in the city, illuminating the wonderful architecture and reflecting in the waters of the Vitava.   A beautiful way to say goodbye.

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