Prague: can’t get enough of the buildings and the sculptures. It’s just an amazing city, full of history and intrigue.
I think the metronome on top of a hill is a statement to the tenacity of the Czech Republic.
The metronome replaces the world’s largest statue of Stalin, that was destroyed by a bomb in 1962, when communist regime was weakening.
Our guide for the six-hour, all inclusive tour, said the meaning of the metronome demonstrates the changes in the country, including WWII and then Communism, and then finally it’s own republic.
Stalin’s statue has it’s own tragic story. The sculptor, Otakar Svec, who, under pressure from the government and secret police, received hate mail from Czech citizens and committed suicide before the statue was unveiled.
It was the Communist party who began the process of de-Stalinization, and it was the new party organization that took it down with explosives.
On a six-hour tour that left me with tired, aching knees, up and down stairs, hanging on to railings, and an occasional helping hand, wasn’t one I’d want to leave out of my itinerary.
Our tour guide had a storehouse of information that we might not have learned on our own.
We saw the Prague Castle where I shot a video of the changing of the guards, (see Facebook), the St. Vitus Cathedral, several palaces, breathtaking viewpoint of the city, St. Nicholas church, Charles Bridge, astronomical clock, Jewish town with Pinkas, Maisel and Spanish Synagogues, the cemetery, town hall and, also, within the Jewish center.
St. Vitus Cathedral was built in1344, and is the burial place of royalty from throughout the centuries. It’s gothic, grand and opulent.
Our guide said all the gold that is seen on statues and buildings is pure 24 carat gold. Large domes, and splashes of gold can be seen all over the city, and especially in the old town.
We saw the oldest pub from the 1400s, and learned that even today, Czech beer is made from the river we cruised on.
Then we were inside a medieval restaurant for a typical Czech lunch. We walked down a winding wooden staircase, and found the room was lit only by candles, as it would be in the medieval days. I chose pork, dumplings, red cabbage and sour kraut, and a local red wine. The dumplings are made from either potato starch or bread. Both are steamed. They are not dumplings as we have in America. I’m not certain what they are like in other countries. Maybe someone will enlighten me here about that.
I have tried to stick to a vegetarian diet for several years, but when faced with an opportunity to know an ethnic food, I just have to try it. Also, when I’m a guest in someone’s home, I eat what is served, and I’m always delighted to get fed.
So many details were given to us on this tour, that I just don’t remember them all, but one are the small stones on the sidewalks. Our guide said they were placed there a few years ago, because when the city workers must get under the sidewalks, the stones are easily removed and replaced when the work commences.
Prague, I learned, is also the center for the purchase of the semi-precious stone, the garnet, and crystal.
Yesterday I went to the old town (and we were there today, as well), and among the old buildings, palaces and wealthy folks’ homes from old days – that have now been turned into hotel’s – I saw store after store of Czech crystal.
I went into one shop just to look at the sparkling chandeliers. I have always wanted a chandelier, and I told the salesman that, but he didn’t get a chance to sell me one. He was hard pressed to believe that I didn’t have a ceiling to hang one on, and that I was homeless, to boot.
Today, our guide showed us the place to purchase crystal in a showroom that, if we didn’t want to purchase crystal, the store could be used as a museum.
“If you buy from this place you know it comes from Czech Republic and not China as some do from the smaller shops.” (Where I had been the day before, I might add).