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Beers, Castles and Spires

Prague, Czech Republic


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Travelling by train is great here! We took a train for 4.5 hours, saw lots of great countryside and arrived in Prague feeling relaxed and rested. It was very comfortable, no airport security, good wifi and comfy seats. (Certainly not like my 1988 experience leaving Berlin!) We arrived in Prague, dumped our luggage at our B&B, and went for our first walk across the iconic Charles Bridge:

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Our first Czech dinner at "Kolkovna Olympia", definitely a "meat and potatoes" traditional cuisine. It tasted great!

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Our B&B https://www.dumuvelkeboty.cz/cs/Dum u Velke Boty, (Big Boot) is an old Prague house converted to a bed and breakfast. It was lovely and the staff were super friendly. It was great being out of the main busy tourist area, but within an easy 10 walk of the old town center.

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The German embassy was right across the square, an impressive building:

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The backyard was gorgeous and home to a statue called “Quo Vadis Monument” (Where are you going?):

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Unlike many European cities, Prague was not bombed during the war (Czechoslovakia was literally handed over to Hitler by France, Italy and UK, assumedly to avoid WWII 🤔). The very slim silver lining of that was that Prague has great historical buildings and architecture that survived. Everywhere you look, it is quite stunning. Here is one of their many opera houses:

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So many cool facades and monuments:

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Prague Castle overlooks the entire city, set high up on the hill. The spikey turrets are the top of St Vitus Cathedral, a pretty amazing cathedral.
We have seen many cathedrals in Europe, but this one is pretty spectacular (no lack of funds here either!):

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We were surprised to see the statue of St George and Basilica of St George here. He is big in Spain, particularly Catalonia, but appears to be successfully fighting dragons and rescuing damsels in distress here too:

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They also have a formal changing of the guard:

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Lunch at Lobkowicz Palace Cafe was lovely, a nice garden area and terrace overlooking the city:

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After so much royalty, we walked down the hill through the Royal Gardens, Waldstein Gardens and Vojanovy sady (gardens). Spring is here and all the bulbs are bursting:

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One had an aviary for Great Horned Owls - we were surprised to see so many in captivity, but apparently, they were from a zoo and had been in captivity for too many years to return to the wild).

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There was also some very large fish in the pond and peacocks strutting about:

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My birthday dinner was at "Tast", super good and right next to our B&B (steak tartar, tomato salad, venison with veggies and trout with veggies):

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The Old Town Square in Prague is pretty spectacular:

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The large black sculpture is a memorial to Jan Palach, an activist who started himself on fire to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1969. The dark sculpture and red tulip contrast is striking…

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And here is the famous astronomical clock, more than 600 years old and still ticking!

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We went on a tour of the city one day and saw a lot, here are a few highlights. Firstly, an inn that Beethoven stayed in on many occasions (because Mozart stayed there too!)

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The famous John Lennon wall:

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There are a few bizarre sculptures around town relating to Frank Kafta, a famous writer from here. Firstly the babies, apparently a comment on communism (enlarged heads but no brains or faces?):

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The head of Kafta, with rotating parts, possibly alluding to the authors everchanging personality? It's a mesmerizing display (click the arrow to view):

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This one depicts Frank Kafka on the shoulders of a headless figure, in reference to a short story he wrote:

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Called "Proudy", this sculpture is of guys peeing in a puddle the shape of Czechia, and even the water appeared yellow!

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The Memorial to the Victims of Communism is quite moving. The stairs represent years from the 1950's - 1989, on each is printed the number of people by year that were executed (248), driven into exile (171,000), arrested (205,000), died in prison (4500) or shot trying to escape (327). The stairs are different sizes, symbolizing difficult times. The human figures fade away as communism continues:

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The National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror is also very impactful. Several Czech resistance fighters successfully assassinated Reinhard Heydrich in 1942, the one and only assassination of a senior Nazi official during WWII. After hitting Heydrich they hid in the catacombs below the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, but unfortunately someone gave away their location and the catacombs were flooded by the Nazis. All perished, and the Nazis reacted with a frenzied wave of terror, which included the annihilation of two entire Czech villages, Lezaky and Lidice. A heavy price to pay but at least they stopped Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich was one of the main architects of the “Final Solution.” He was chief of the Reich Security Main Office, the SS and police agency most directly concerned with implementing the Nazi plan to murder Jews of Europe during World War II.

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The catacombs:

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The memorial to a student protest for freedom from communism (Nov 17, 1989) on the 50th anniversary of the Nazi takeover in 1939. Over 1200 students were arrested and 9 died:

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The National Museum is very grand and sits on top of a hill with several statues, memorials and gardens flowing down from into Wenceslas Square. Apparently both the Nazi's and the Soviets assumed this was the center of power, so turned their tanks on the museum (oops). Since then, it has become a popular place for protests.

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There is nothing like sitting and enjoying a drink amongst the grandeur of historic buildings. The Old Town Square was perfect!

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Prague's jewish people suffered greatly and largely perished at the hands of the Nazi's in WWII. Their Jewish Museum and memorials are housed in a series of historic synagogues in the old jewish ghetto. The walls of the Pinkas Synagogue are inscribed with the names, birthdates and dates of disappearance of 77,297 Czech Jews:

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The Old Jewish cemetery, from the 1500s, with layers and layers of caskets placed there for hundreds of years, is said to be the inspiration for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin:

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Spanish synagogue is considered the most beautiful of the museum synagogues, which was built in the 1800s in the Moorish style - reminded us of Granada:

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The Old-New Synagogue is Europe’s oldest working synagogue, originally built in 1270, with the new one in 1652:

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We had lunch at the Municipal House, a cool art deco building, right beside a "powder tower" - interesting mix of history and architecture here!

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Prague’s architecture looks even more amazing at night:

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You never know what you will find behind a small closed door. Check out Vrtba Garden:

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There are many new buildings in Prague as well - check out the Fred Astaire and Ginger Robert’s buildings:

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We decided on Czech food for our last supper in Prague at "Kozlovna". It had a traditional menu but with a new twist, it very tasty and their home brewed beer was great:

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On our last morning we hiked up Petrin Hill, just behind our B&B, to see the view and the lookout tower (which was built for the 1891 Prague Exposition as a lookalike to the Eiffel Tower, not sure it's that but definitely provided nice views!):

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Praha - City of Dogs (yes, we bought the T-shirt):

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Next stop: Vienna, Austria

Posted by margofiala 13:37 Archived in Czech Republic

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Comments

OK I’ve now seen Prague ! Check that off my Bucket List Ha
Lovely narration and Pictures! Enjoy the next Adventure say Hi to
Zane!

by Mary

Having been to Prague multiple times I’d say you’ve ‘way outdone the typical tourist! And the tee was made for you Dean!

by Donna-Lynne

I loved Prague & agree that you have seen more than I did. And your narrative was also superior! Great blog!

by connieasm

Prague is on my bucket list and for good reason! I have been invited on programs there twice but timing has not worked out. Boooo!

by dsiemens

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