Prague-Longest Day Of The Year

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Our day started at 9:30 am with breakfast at our hotel, for the next 10 hours we walked, walked, breaked, walked, walked, dined, walked, walked and fell into bed around 9:30 pm. By the way we would highly recommend Hotel AbsolutIMG_2464 our room was spacious and clean as was the bathroom. Included in the cost was breakfast lots of bread,cheese, cold cuts, fruit, cereal and most importantly coffee. Location is great has it is only a four minute walk from the transit system which meant we were in the inner city in no time.

As our stay in Prague was short we decided to take a tour, picking a tour was not easy. It seems all the tour companies meet in the same area on mass. We arrived in The Old Town Square where about 15-20 sign waving, umbrella or bottle swinging as well as theatrical tour guides were trying to get the attention of the tourists. To say it was chaotic is an understatement it, took us about 15 minute to find a tour group we were aloud to join.

Unfortunately my son Derek did not talk to us for a few days as we informed him we took the Sandmann’s FREE tour (guides ask for tips later), which is the competition for the other tour companies around Europe where you pay for your tour. The free tour company was started by a young man who has an extremely rich father that financed all his tour companies. The idea being you have a free tour and then tip the guide whatever you want.

How does Sandmann make money you ask the tour guide has to pay the company 3 Euros per tourist that was in their group so you can imagine the guides want some big tips otherwise they could be left with making know money that day. Hence with the other companies guides get paid regularly and are not desperately begging for tips. Lesson when it is free there is always someone who has to pay.

Hoping before we leave we will be out of the dog house with Derek.

Taking the tour gave us some good insight on the history of Prague and the Czech people’s enduring patience in becoming a democratic country. Unlike Canada the cities and countries of Europe have history that spans over thousands of years. Even the Celts had settled here a long time ago before the Germanic people arrived and then they were replace by the Slavi people.

The main focal point then and still to this day is the Prague Castle. Steve and I had never seen anything so huge. As we were to find out it is one of the biggest castles in all of Europe. Unfortunately there was no time to take a tour of the castle inside. Just gives us an excuse to come back.IMG_2524

This castle was built in the 9th century, now jump ahead to the 1344 and the St. Vitus Cathedral is built right inside the grounds of the castle. This Cathedral is by no means small which prepares gives you an idea how large the castle and its grounds are. The Cathedral was build during the reign of Bohemian and Holy Roman Emperor CharlesIV.

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During his time he ordered several things to be constructed including a bridge  and not surprisingly is named The Charles Bridge. The bridge is adorned with many statuesand presently is under repairs which is causing havoc with the                                      hundreds of tourists on the bridge and the numerous vendors makes for a tight  squeeze. Notice all the people on the bridge with this aerial shot. I will not dealve further into the history of Prague, suffice it to say that there were many battles                                won and lost to bring Prague to its present day.

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Here are some other historical sights we saw during our three hour guided tour and touring around by ourselves for 4-6 hours. Prague Astronomical Clock which is in The Old Town Square mounted on the south wall of the Old City Hall.IMG_2469

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IMG_2512The Old New Synagogue which is the oldest active Synagogue in Europe, it was completed in 1270

The  photo on top of this page is of the Tyn Church which was completed 1450.

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Jan Hus Memorial erected 1915. Hus was a influential religious thinker, philosopher and reformer in Prague. His teachings did not go over well with the Vatican and was condemned by the Council of Constance and burned at the stake in 1415. Because the people of Prague had constantly been ruled by repressive regimes he became a symbol of strength (anti-Hapsburg) during the Hapsburg rule.IMG_2648

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The Statue Of The Iron Knight built between 1908-1910 representing Emperor Rudolph II, have feeling George Lucas was here .

Jan Palach Memorial, Palach died after setting himself on fire in Wenceslas Square on January 16, 1969 in protest of the August 1968  Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia designed to crush liberal reforms of the  government during that time. He was one of group of students to sign a suicide pact if the reforms were defeated most of the others did not go through with the pact.

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However his death was not in vain 20 years later on the anniversary of his death there began anti-communism protests in memory of him. These protests lasted a week later to be known as Palach week. The fall of communism in Czechoslovakia  happened 11 months later.

Statue of Franz Kafka a major fiction of the 20th century, his request that his books and unfinished works be destouyed upon his death was ignored. In death his books became one thee most influetial western European literature. Statue stands in the Jewish quarter where he spent most of his time. This statue does have you wondering what it represents, the small man riding on the shoulders of the huge shoulders of the headless man is Kafka. This scene appears in a book of Kafka’s Description of Struggle, is Kafka being guided blindly or does he have blind faith in his fellow man.IMG_2505

The house of the Black Mother of God or Black Madonna is an example of cubist architecture it was built between 1911-1912 . It now acts as a museum exhibiting works of Czech cubism. The Statue of the Black Madonna hangs outside of this building.

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Coat of Peace this broze staute is in front of the Stavovske Divadlo (Royal Theatre) commerating that Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” had its grand opening on October 29th 1787.IMG_2476

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As you can see by the many photos there was alot to see in one day. However it has confirmed for us that we do want to come back and see more of Prague, sounds like another Euro tour for next year.

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Cheers!!

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Published in: on July 29, 2009 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  

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