A Sunny Time in Prague

Trip Start Aug 29, 2010
Trip End Oct 04, 2010

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Flag of Czech Republic  , Bohemia,
Saturday, September 11, 2010

First full day in Prague, wooh! Once again, we embarked on Sandeman's free tour of the city by meeting at the beautiful Old Town Square. The square was not only full of tourists and Czech people, it was also being set up for a road race sponsored by Tesco (similar to our Walmart). This meant that it was extra packed and a maze to get through. Our tour guide happened to be the animated Justin, one of our guides from the Beer Challenge tour last night! We started the tour with the 2nd most overrated attraction in the world- the astronomical clock tower. On every hour, four wooden figures surrounding the clock move their heads while the 12 apostles peak out from little doors above the clock and a rooster crows. This display was so boring and anticlimactic that the city had to add a live trumpeter to the event!
Anyways, we learned about the history of the city and how it got it's name. The founders settled at the first location where a man was fixing a doorway as prophesied by their psychic princess, and the town was henceforth named Praha, or doorway. We also saw the New Town Square, Wenceslas Square, the Power Tower, Tyn Cathedral, St. Nicholas' Church and St. James' church. St. James' was cool because of two things- the inside is decorated in a very elaborate Baroque style and there is a shriveled human arm hanging inside the church. The story says that a statue of the Virgin Mary grabbed the arm of man who tried to steal her necklace and the only way to detach the two was to cut off the mans arm. And of course, the priests hung up the arm to warn others about stealing.
Prague also has a rather large and distinct Jewish quarter with a tragic history. Originally, it was a walled in mud pit filled with dilapidated houses and over 20000 Jews. Then the city knocked down the barrier (which finally allowed the Jews to move out of that section), razed the area and rebuilt it in the Art Nouveau style. Now it is the most expensive and nicest area of the city. They have the oldest active synagogue, the Old New Synagogue, and the Spanish Synagogue built in the Moorish style of architecture. The Jewish cemetery was very impressive too because it held over 100,000 graves in the size of a city block most of them piled over one another in seven to eight layers. Justin told us about the memorial dedicated to the Czech Jews who died in the Holocaust, which lists all the names of the murdered Czech Jews and also houses thousands of paintings done by children in the concentration camp outside of Prague.
After this sad portion of history, we finally saw the view of the Charles Bridge and of the Prague Castle from across the river. It was truly stunning. The castle is the largest Medieval castle in the world, something like seven football fields long! More about the castle another day since we're going on the tour on Monday.
We were starved from all this walking so we decided to go back to one of the pubs, U Medviku, we had visited last night since the food and and beer were so good. We had fried cheese, more delicious and real Budweiser beer, traditional beef and bread stew, and a massive potato pancake. The food and drinks were great but combined with all the walking and sun today, we desperately needed a nap! So we went back to our hostel for some relaxation before another pub crawl tonight. More on that tomorrow!
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trc on

wish i could be in Prague! i heard it's one of the most beautiful places...

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