Classical music in a very old church

Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
Trip End Aug 05, 2007

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Flag of Czech Republic  ,
Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tara here. We arrived in Prague on a Saturday morning and quickly dropped our bags and headed for town. The place to start in Prague is Wenceslas Square. This is a public square named after St. Wenceslas, of "Old King Wenceslas" fame. Good King Wenceslas (Vaclav) was actually murdered over a thousand years ago by his brother, and has always been a Czech national hero. He is considered the saviour or the favourite Saint of Prague and so he stands proudly over the most famous public square.

The square was established over 600 years ago and over the years has traditionally been the place where Czech's come to let off steam. The square has seen anti-communist uprisings as well as celebrations, such as when the Czech team won the Gold Medal in men's ice hockey at the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Nathan here: Team Canada's playoff loss to the Czech Team in a shoot-out still irks me to this day, but I digress.

Tara again. On our first day we witnessed a very large and noisy demonstration at the above-mentioned square. I guess a lot of government workers are not very happy with their employer and were there to show their displeasure, in as loud a way as they could. There were signs (which we could not understand, of course) and whistles and singing and marching, etc. It was quite somthing.

As we had only a short time in Prague, we decided we should take a sightseeing tour to really get a view of the town. There was a tour company recommended to us that did walking tours ( and so we set off away from the square to escape some of the chaos. The tour took us through the four main areas of Prague: the Old City, Josefov (the Jewish area), Prague Castle and New Town (not so new now). We explored the four areas briefly. The next day we took a longer tour of the Prague castle and went inside St. Vitus' church.

Nathan here: We had been told that Prague Castle is a key symbol of the Czech Republic. According to the Guiness Book of Records, it is the largest continuous castle complex in the world. Not surprisingly, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. As an aside, I guess at some point we're going to have to count how many we've been to on this trip. Back to the castle. It comprises an extensive group of palaces and church buildings in a variety of architectural styles - from 10th century Romanesque buildings to 20th modern additions. It also houses the coronation jewels, the remains of previous Czech kings, precious artifacts, etc, etc.

St. Vitus' Cathedral was a real highlight of our visit to the castle. Construction of this gothic-style cathedral began in the 14th century and it took nearly six centuries to build. Should mention that it was built on the site of a 10th century rotunda so there's lots of history to the place. The final phase of construction only ended during the years 1873 to 1929.

Unfortunately Tara and I were not able to attend a classical music concert in Vienna. However, there would be plenty of opportunities for us in Prague and we took advantage of one performance at St. George's Basilica. I believe it is the oldest church building within the Prague Castle complex and is also the best-preserved Romanesque church in Prague.

A word about this building. It was founded early in the 10th century so it is very, very old. Since then, it has been enlarged and rebuilt a couple of times so the current Baroque facade (see pics) dates from the late 17th century. The Basilica now serves as a concert hall and the acoustics are fantastic. We saw a performance of selected works by Pachelbel, Mozart and Vivaldi by the Prague Royal Orchestra. Highly recommend the experience to others.

So despite the short visit, we enjoyed our time in Prague and are keen to come back. Next stop: Spain. N&T.

PS - Tara purchased more shoes. Comments about the gold?
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