Walking the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

King Solomon Restaurant, located in the Jewish Quarter, is the oldest Kosher restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic

King Solomon Restaurant, located in the Jewish Quarter, is the oldest Kosher restaurant in Prague, Czech Republic

 

We continued our morning tour of the Jewish Quarter in Prague, Czech Republic with visits to several more synagogues, some of which are part of the multi-site Jewish Museum of Prague.  The Maisel Synagogue [Czech: Vysoká Synagoga], also known as the High Synagogue, was financed by Mordechai Maisel and was finished in 1568, the same year as the Jewish Town Hall.  It may have been modeled after High Synagogue, Kraków, which was built in 1556 in Poland.  The Maisel Synagogue exhibits a cross-section of the history of the Jews in Bohemia and Moravia, from the early Jewish communities of the 10th century to their emancipation in the 18th century.

 

The restored interior of the Maisel Synagogue [Czech- Vysoká Synagoga], also known as the High Synagogue which is part of the Jewish Muesum of Prague in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Cze

The restored interior of the Maisel Synagogue [Czech: Vysoká Synagoga], also known as the High Synagogue which is part of the Jewish Muesum of Prague in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

A close up of the Torah Ark, holding several torahs, in the Maisel Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

A close up of the Torah Ark, holding several torahs, in the Maisel Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An old Hanukkah menorah in the Jewish Muesum of Prague in the Maisel Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

An old Hanukkah menorah in the Jewish Museum of Prague in the Maisel Synagogue, the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Towards the end of our walk in the Old Jewish Cemetery, located adjacent to Pinkas Synagogue we came across the headstone that marks the grave of Rabbi Judah Löw ben Bezalel, who died in 1609, a great scholar who supposedly once met with Rudolf II, then Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.  Rabbi Lion (Loew means “Lion”) is credited with the creation of a golem, according to the legend in Prague.  “In Jewish folklore, a golem (/ˈɡoʊləm/ GOH-ləm; Hebrew: גולם‎) is an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (specifically clay or mud).  The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material in Psalms and medieval writing.” — Wikipedia

 

Near the Old Jewish Cemetery (where Rabbi Loew, the legendary creator of the Prague golem, is buried) there were many variations of miniature golems for sale on the street – around the

Near the Old Jewish Cemetery (where Rabbi Loew, the legendary creator of the Prague golem, is buried) there were many variations of miniature golems for sale on the street – around the corner from the Old-New Synagogue. In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (specifically clay or mud).

 

“Rabbi Löw lived at a time when Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler were stars of the local astronomical firmament, conducting their researches across the river Moldau [Vltava].  It has been said that Rabbi Löw went to the banks of the Moldau one night for his own form of experimentation: he gathered some wet clay, applied esoteric knowledge drawn from cabalistic texts and breathed life into the amorphous mass, creating the Golem.” – Edward Rothstein, New York Times, September 11, 2006

“The Golem of Prague: The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Löw ben Bezalel, the late 16th century rabbi of Prague, also known as the Maharal, who reportedly ‘created a golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava River [English: The Moldau] and brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations to defend the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and pogroms.  Depending on the version of the legend, the Jews in Prague were to be either expelled or killed under the rule of Rudolf II, The Holy Roman Emperor.  The Golem was called Josef and was known as Yossele.  It was said that he could make himself invisible and summon spirits from the dead.  Rabbi Loew deactivated the Golem on Friday evenings by removing the shem before the Sabbath (Saturday) began, so as to let it rest on Sabbath.  One Friday evening Rabbi Loew forgot to remove the shem, and feared that the Golem would desecrate the Sabbath.  A different story tells of a golem that fell in love, and when rejected, became the violent monster seen in most accounts.  Some versions have the golem eventually going on a murderous rampage.  [This story is believed by some to be the basis for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published in 1818.]   The rabbi then managed to pull the shem from his mouth and immobilize him in front of the synagogue, whereupon the golem fell in pieces.  The Golem’s body was stored in the attic genizah of the Old New Synagogue, where it would be restored to life again if needed.  According to legend, the body of Rabbi Loew’s Golem still lies in the synagogue’s attic.  When the attic was renovated in 1883, no evidence of the Golem was found.” — Wikipedia

 

The restored Bema and Torah Ark in the Old-New Synagogue, built in 1270, in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

The restored Bema and Torah Ark in the Old-New Synagogue, built in 1270, in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The oldest synagogue in Prague is the Old-New Synagogue [Czech: Staronová Synagoga], dating back to 1270; it is also the oldest active synagogue in Europe.  Because it is an active synagogue, it is not part of the Jewish Museum of Prague (which includes six other synagogues).  We bought separate tickets for a tour of the synagogue, originally known as the New Synagogue; note that when newer synagogues were built in Prague in the 16th century, it became known as the “Old-New” Synagogue.  As noted above, the body of the Golem created by Rabbi Loew had lain in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue.  There are various stories about Nazi Gestapo not entering the attic during the war and sparing the building (and one story of a Nazi who did enter the attic and perished).

 

A close-up of the Torah Ark in the Old-New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

A close-up of the Torah Ark in the Old-New Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Brass memorial plaques for Jews from Prague who perished in the Holocaust, placed into the sidewalks in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

Brass memorial plaques for Jews from Prague who perished in the Holocaust, placed into the sidewalks in the Jewish Quarter, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

The Jewish Museum in Prague: Pinkas Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

A street in Josefov (the Jewish Quarter), the smallest district of Prague, Czech Republic; it is the site of the former Jewish ghetto, surrounded by Old Town Prague and the Vltava River

A street in Josefov (the Jewish Quarter), the smallest district of Prague, Czech Republic; it is the site of the former Jewish ghetto, surrounded by Old Town Prague and the Vltava River

 

We spent a day walking around and visiting many sites in the Jewish Quarter of Prague, Czech Republic.  As Jews began living in Prague as early as 970 A.D., the Jewish Quarter is one of the most historic districts of the city.  At one point, the Jewish Quarter was home to approximately 25% of Prague’s population.

“The Jewish Quarter in Prague, known as Josefov, is located between the Old Town Square and the Vltava River. Its torrid history dates from the 13th century, when Jewish people were ordered to vacate their disparate homes and settle in one area.

Over the centuries, with Jews banned from living anywhere else in Prague, and with new arrivals expelled from Moravia, Germany, Austria and Spain joining them, more and more people were crowded in.

To add to this, inhabitants of the Jewish Quarter, or the Prague Jewish Ghetto as it also became known, were forced to endure structural changes.  The latest occurred between 1893-1913, when a number of buildings were flattened, and the layout of many streets remodeled.

Fortunately, most of the significant historical buildings were saved from destruction, and today they remain a testimony to the history of the Jews in Prague.  They form the best preserved complex of historical Jewish monuments in the whole of Europe.

The Jewish Quarter has six synagogues, including the Spanish Synagogue and Old-New Synagogue, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall, and the Old Jewish Cemetery, the most remarkable of its kind in Europe.

The monuments even survived the Nazi occupation in the 20th century.  Adolf Hitler himself decided to preserve the Jewish Quarter as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”.  Indeed the Nazis gathered Jewish artifacts from other occupied countries, transporting them to Prague to form part of the museum.

Today, these historical monuments, all except the Old-New Synagogue, form what is called the Jewish Museum in Prague…

The Old-New Synagogue requires a separate ticket.  Built in the 13th century in early Gothic style, it is the oldest preserved synagogue in Central Europe, and is the main house of prayer for the Jewish community in the present day…

The Jewish Quarter is also the birthplace of the celebrated writer Franz Kafka, who is commemorated with a statue on Dusni Street.” — http://www.pragueexperience.com

 

Reconstruction of the Pinkas Synagogue (1950–1955), Prague, Czech Republic; photo courtesy of the Jewish Museum in Prague

Reconstruction of the Pinkas Synagogue (1950–1955), Prague, Czech Republic; photo courtesy of the Jewish Museum in Prague

 

“The Pinkas Synagogue is one of the oldest synagogues in Prague’s Jewish Town.  Dating from the early 16th century, it was built as a private house of prayer for the family of Aaron Meshulam Horowitz at the edge of the Old Jewish Cemetery.  After the Nazi occupation of Prague, the synagogue was vacated and converted into a warehouse of confiscated Jewish property.  Abandoned after the war, the devastated synagogue was put into the care of the Jewish Museum in Prague, which set about it’s gradual restoration.  In 1954-1960, the Pinkas Synagogue interior was turned into a memorial for the more than 78,000 Jewish victims of the Shoah from the Czech lands.  Visitors are required to respect the solemnity of the site.” — signage in the Jewish Museum in Prague at the Pinkas Synagogue  

 

The restored Pinkas Synagogue, viewed from behind the Bema, Prague, Czech Republic

The restored Pinkas Synagogue, viewed from behind the Bema, Prague, Czech Republic

 

On the walls on either side of the Ark of the Covenant are listed the names of the Nazi concentration and death camps to which the Czech Jews were deported; Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Cze

On the walls on either side of the Ark of the Covenant are listed the names of the Nazi concentration and death camps to which the Czech Jews were deported; Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic

 

“This exhibition, ‘The Deportation of Jews from the Czech Lands, 1939-1945’, focuses on the deportation of Jews from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which took place as part of the ‘final solution to the Jewish question’.   In 1939-1945, almost 81,000 of these Jews were deported to the ghettos in Lodz, Minsk, and Terezín and to the concentration, labor and extermination camps in the German-occupied territories of eastern Europe.  More than 78,000 of them fell victim to the Shoah.” — signage in the Jewish Museum in Prague at the Pinkas Synagogue  

 

Introductory wall text at the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, explaining the 80,000 hand-written names on the restored walls of the Synagogue which now is part of the Jewish Mu

Introductory wall text at the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, explaining the 80,000 hand-written names on the restored walls of the Synagogue which now is part of the Jewish Museum in Prague

 

A small section of the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, displaying the names of the Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the hands of the Nazis in World War I

A small section of the walls of the Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic, displaying the names of the Czech and Moravian Jews who perished under the hands of the Nazis in World War II

 

Two water color drawings by young Jewish children who perished in a Nazi death camp following their internment in Terezín concentration camp -- in an exhibit titled “Beyond the Looki

Two water color drawings by young Jewish children who perished in a Nazi death camp following their internment in Terezín concentration camp — in an exhibit titled “Beyond the Looking Glass – The Children’s Story, The Children’s Drawings from Terezín (1942 – 1944)”, Jewish Museum in Prague, Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic

 

“Immediately after German troops crossed the Czech-German border the early morning of March 15, 1939, the remainder of the truncated territory of the Czech lands was declared the so-called “Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia“.

“Literally overnight a number of people became in forest prisoners in the territory occupied by the Nazis. Immigration, by whatever route, was successful for only a paltry fraction of those who under the discriminatory provisions of the Nuremberg laws were designated as Jews.  Of the total number of 118,310 persons that were registered as ‘Protectorate Jews’ by March 15, 1939 (In addition, there were German and Austrian Jewish refugees living in the unoccupied territory of Bohemia and Moravia), there remained in the ‘Protectorate’ about 80,000 after the definitive shutting off of all routes of escape.

“From the first day in the “Protectorate“ the Nazi authorities enforced a tough repressive policy against the Jews.  They were fired from their jobs.  Their property was confiscated.  The absurd decrees went so far in this direction that the duty to surrender one’s property even applied to radios, bicycles, and skis.  Free movement was severely restricted; as of 1940 everyone had to be concentrated in the cramped conditions of newly demarcated Jewish quarters.  In Prague, the former Jewish ghetto in Josefov was designated for this purpose. Jews were for bidden entry to cafés, cinemas, theaters, and other public places, there were specially designated hours when they could shop, and at that only in selected shops and among a limited assortment of goods.  After eight o’clock in the evening Jews were forbidden to leave their homes.  They were allowed to ride the trams only while seated in the back, and they were not allowed on buses at all.

“On the edges of the parks or children’s playgrounds a notice appeared: ‘Juden Verboten’.  Jewish children, whom moreover were expelled from all schools as of September 1940, could only make use of the playground of the Jewish club Hagibor or the Jewish cemetery in Old Town or the one  in Żiżkov for their games.  As of September 1, 1941, all Jews were required to wear a yellow Star of David.  This visible sign was connected with, particularly out the outset, an enormous psychological pressure to which all ‘people with a star’ were exposed.  Only by virtue of this mark were they singled out from others at a glance.  For the children this was a hard experience, and they quickly became adults during this time.

“It was extremely important that the children, who since the beginning of the occupation had to face daily the manifestations of persecution just like their parents, would not be continuously subject to depression, which could lead to a permanent feeling of skepticism.  Not only was it necessary to maintain the continuity of their education, but also it was just as necessary to fill their time and avert them from the depressing sensation of chaos and hopelessness.  Although this necessity was to become paramount only in the  difficult conditions of the Terezín ghetto, and in particular the unimaginably horrifying reality of family camp B II at Auschwitz, the adults approached the children in this manner from the very beginning.  They were greatly assisted in this endeavor by the leadership of the Prague Jewish community, at whose head was the active Zionist Dr. Jacob Edelstein, later the first chairman of the Council of Elders in Terezín.

“In addition to the possibility of attending the Jewish school, whose capacity was naturally insufficient, other, alternative forms of instruction were organized.  Lessons were held in the mornings in the impoverished conditions of private apartments, the afternoons were set aside for sport and play, even though the space for it was considerably limited.  From the outset the instructors were chosen by the community leadership from a number of young people of the hachshara Hechalutz.  On account of their strong orientation toward Zionism, which was reflected even later in the education of the young in Terezín, a positive meaning was given to the children’s Jewishness, of which many of them had been unaware before the occupation.  Yet the strengthened Jewish identity only afforded the children a slight relief from a life in continual fear of transport, which from October 1941 began leaving from the assembly area in Prague‘s exhibition hall, Veletrżní palác, primarily to the ghetto in Lodz at the beginning and then from the end of November of the same year to the newly established concentration camp in Terezín.

To spare the children in particular as much as possible the shocking reality, the Jewish self-government, therefore, tried to create from the outset a completely separate world for them, in which a normal, even innovative educational system founded on the highest moral values would be applied.  In the summer of 1942 they succeeded in establishing children’s dormitories in several individual buildings.  The children in them were divided up by age into so-called ‘Heims’.  These were separate rooms of about 20 to 30 children. There was an instructor (madrich) at the front of each room.  Considering the inadequate capacity of the dormitories, it was not possible for all the children to live apart from the adults; however, even those who remained with their parents were able to participate in the daily program of the Heim.  Even in spite of extremely limited possibilities the program was fairly varied.  Performances, recitation evenings, and lectures were organized.  Several children’s journals were produced in Terezín.  The most significant among them was ‘Vedem’, put out by the boys from dormitory I in L417 and coming out with weekly regularity for a year and a half.  During this time it managed to amount to almost 800 pages…

“In the effort to create a protective atmosphere of support, the self-government enlisted the best instructors and provided the children with the best food and clothing.  For this purpose there was established this so-called ‘Jugendfürsorge’, a department for the care of children and the young.  But the most important question continued to be the education of the children, so necessary for the maintenance and further development of ethical, aesthetic, and intellectual spiritual values.   Even though the organized education of Jewish children was strictly forbidden from the time of the expulsion from the schools, in the ghetto they managed after a certain time to obtain permission for instruction in crafts, drawing, and singing, to which was gradually included even the illegal teaching of languages, literature, history, and the fundamentals of the exact sciences.  In this respect the Terezín children paradoxically received the best, namely the best teachers chosen from the top scientists and artists.

“In the context of this education at Terezín, drawing lessons occupied a certain privileged status, similar to the children’s theater.  Primarily on account of the Viennese painter and graduate of Weimar Bauhaus, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, who was transported Terezín at the end of 1942, drawing lessons became an all-encompassing concept in which drawing was understood as a key to knowledge and to the acquisition of the fundamental principles of communication.  Despite a quite specific plan of instruction, Dicker-Brandeis absolutely respected the personality of a child and left free space for his self-expression, released fantasies, and emotions.  From this perspective, the drawing lessons had an invaluable therapeutic effect and significantly helped the children to bear of the oppressive reality around them.

Drawing opened the way for the children up Terezín to memories, to the world from which they were torn.  It enables them to see and describe sadness and a palling reality, but above all, it carried them away to a world of fantasy and pure imagination where good triumphs over evil, where free will and abundance reign, where there is paradise on earth.  The children constantly expressed in their drawings the hope of their happy return home, often drawing roads and crossroads with signposts pointing to Prague.  Only a small fraction of the children who passed through Terezín saw this hope fulfilled.  The majority of them were transported further east and virtually all perished in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

The almost four and a half thousand children’s drawings from Terezín, which since the end of the Second World War has created a component of the collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague, is not only an authentic document of the tragic persecution of the Jews, the victims of which quite indiscriminately included children, it is also a unique collection of the many times sole remembrances of those whose names would otherwise have remained completely forgotten.“ — signage in the Jewish Museum in Prague at the Pinkas Synagogue  

 

Two photographs of the performance of the children_s play, Brundibár, in Terezín concentration camp, filmed in 1944 for a Nazi propaganda film, Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Repu

Two photographs of the performance of the children’s play, Brundibár, in Terezín concentration camp, filmed in 1944 for a Nazi propaganda film, Pinkas Synagogue, Prague, Czech Republic; note that about 13 years ago a production of Brundibár, with a libretto by Tony Kushner and sets by the late children’s artist Maurice Sendak, was staged theatrically in both Berkeley, CA, and New York, NY

 

The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic, is adjacent to the restored Pinkas Synagogue; founded in the 15th century, the Old Jewish Cemetery is among the oldest surviving Jewish b

The Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic, is adjacent to the restored Pinkas Synagogue; founded in the 15th century, the Old Jewish Cemetery is among the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world, and is one of the most important historical monuments in the Jewish Quarter in Prague

 

Close-up of a headstone in the Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

Close-up of a headstone in the Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Vltava River Cruise, Prague, Czech Republic

Old Town Prague, Czech Republic, viewed from the Vltava River (known also by its English name, The Moldau), with the 14th century Gothic Charles Bridge and the Old Town Bridge Tower in t

Old Town Prague, Czech Republic, viewed from the Vltava River (known also by its English name, The Moldau), with the 14th century Gothic Charles Bridge and the Old Town Bridge Tower in the center

 

In many cities we have found that a great way to appreciate the monuments, historic buildings, contemporary neighborhoods and waterfront life is to take a river cruise.  In Prague, Czech Republic, we took a very pleasant late afternoon cruise on the Vltava River (English: The Moldau) with our friends – our captain even provided Champagne and snacks.  Our tour began and ended near our hotel (The Four Seasons, Prague) on the east bank of the river just north of the Charles Bridge.

 

This idyllic scene – having just sailed south under the Charles Bridge on the Vltava River in the center of Prague, Czech Republic, gives a very different vibe than walking through the

This idyllic scene – having just sailed south under the Charles Bridge on the Vltava River in the center of Prague, Czech Republic, gives a very different vibe than walking through the crowded Old Town, nearby

 

The Old Town Bridge Tower is a striking 14th-century tower with a wide, arched gateway, Gothic ornamentation & sweeping vistas – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

The Old Town Bridge Tower is a striking 14th-century tower with a wide, arched gateway, Gothic ornamentation & sweeping vistas – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Historic buildings on the Old Town (eastern) side of the river – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

Historic buildings on the Old Town (eastern) side of the river – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The Bedřich Smetana Museum, in an 1880s Renaissance-style waterworks building, houses documents and personal effects of the famous Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana – viewed from the

The Bedřich Smetana Museum, in an 1880s Renaissance-style waterworks building, houses documents and personal effects of the famous Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic; while sailing past the museum our captain played a portion of Smetana’s “Má Vlast” (English, My Homeland), a collection of six symphonic poems, including one featuring the Vltava River (The Moldau)

 

The Bedřich Smetana Museum is housed in the neo-Renaissance building of the former Old Town Waterworks on the Vltava River near Charles Bridge, in a place with stunning views of the Vltava River and the panorama of Prague Castle.  The museum’s unconventional exhibition describes the life and work of Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884), one of the greatest Czech composers.

 

Details of the riverfront top exterior of the Bedřich Smetana Museum – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

Details of the riverfront top exterior of the Bedřich Smetana Museum – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Behind the Charles Bridge, on top of the hill is Saint Vitus Cathedral – the largest and most important temple in the city -- located within Prague Castle (Czech- Pražsky hrad) – v

Behind the Charles Bridge, on top of the hill is Saint Vitus Cathedral – the largest and most important temple in the city — located within Prague Castle (Czech: Pražsky hrad) – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The barricade in front of the bridge is for its protection– viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

The barricade in front of the bridge is for its protection– viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Canals in Prague? This small channel off the main section of the river is known locally as “Little Prague Venice”, or Čertovka in Czech, and was built in the 12th century by the O

Canals in Prague? This small channel off the main section of the river is known locally as “Little Prague Venice”, or Čertovka in Czech, and was built in the 12th century by the Order of the Knights of Malta – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

On of the few remaining waterwheels on the river in the center of the city – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

On of the few remaining waterwheels on the river in the center of the city – viewed from the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Prague Castle (Czech: Pražsky hrad), Prague, Czech Republic

Saint Vitus Cathedral, within Prague Castle (Czech- Pražsky hrad), is the largest and the most important temple in Prague and the site of coronations of Czech kings and queens; Prague,

Saint Vitus Cathedral, within Prague Castle (Czech: Pražsky hrad), is the largest and the most important temple in Prague and the site of coronations of Czech kings and queens; Prague, Czech Republic

 

Prague Castle (Czech: Pražsky hrad) is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, dating from the 9th century.  It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world.

“Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci).  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m² (83,719 square yards).  A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from the remains of Romanesque-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century.  The famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik was responsible for extensive renovations in the time of the First Republic (1918-1938).  Since the Velvet Revolution, Prague Castle has undergone significant and ongoing repairs and reconstructions.” – www.hrad.cz

 

Details of the Gothic front façade of Saint Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

Details of the Gothic front façade of Saint Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of a Gothic cathedral, with construction following – on and off – over the following centuries with the Union for the Completion of the Cat

In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of a Gothic cathedral, with construction following – on and off – over the following centuries with the Union for the Completion of the Cathedral in the late 1800s pushing for repairs and completion; the consecration was in 1929; Saint Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

One of the administrative buildings still in use by the government, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

One of the administrative buildings still in use by the government, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Vladislav Hall, a large room used for large public events of the Bohemian monarchy and the modern Czech state, was built between 1493–1502 during the reign of Vladislav II and was the

Vladislav Hall, a large room used for large public events of the Bohemian monarchy and the modern Czech state, was built between 1493–1502 during the reign of Vladislav II and was the largest secular space in medieval Prague; it belongs to the most complex structural and architectural spaces of the late Middle Ages, Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

St. George_s Basilica – dedicated to Saint George -- is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic, and was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia

St. George’s Basilica – dedicated to Saint George — is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic, and was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920 A.D.

 

A lane of shops within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

A lane of shops within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The view downhill and across the Vltava River from Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

The view downhill and across the Vltava River from Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The view from Svatováclavská vinice (St. Wenceslas' Vineyard) which is within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic – it was really amazing to see a working vineyard in the center

The view from Svatováclavská vinice (St. Wenceslas’ Vineyard) which is within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic – it was really amazing to see a working vineyard in the center of a city!

 

Looking back up at the center of Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic, from Svatováclavská vinice (St. Wenceslas' Vineyard)

Looking back up at the center of Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic, from Svatováclavská vinice (St. Wenceslas’ Vineyard)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Strahov Monastery (Czech: Strahovsky Klášter), Prague, Czech Republic

The Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library of Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, was built in 1783 and the interior was installed from 1794 to 1797 and quickly became famous t

The Strahov Library of Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, was built in 1783 and the interior was installed from 1794 to 1797 and quickly became famous throughout Europe and cultural circles

 

Strahov Monastery (Czech: Strahovsky Klášter) in Prague, Czech Republic, is a Premonstratensian monaster founded in 1140.  In the complex there is the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the rare Strahov Library with a number of medieval manuscripts, maps and globes, the Baroque Theological Hall, the Classical Philosophy Hall decorated with frescoes, and the Strahov Gallery, one of the most significant Central European collections of Gothic painting, Rudolfian art, and Baroque and Rococo paintings.

 

The Strahov Library has around 280,000 titles, of which 3,000 are manuscripts and 1,500 are incunabula, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

The Strahov Library has around 280,000 titles, of which 3,000 are manuscripts and 1,500 are incunabula, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

This globe from the early 1700s in the Strahov Library shows the western part of North America (Baja California, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska) as an island

This globe from the early 1700s in the Strahov Library shows the western part of North America (Baja California, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska) as an island, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Strahov Library, which was the part of the Monastery that we visited, is the second oldest church library in Bohemia with uninterrupted existence.  The library has around 280,000 titles, of which 3,000 are manuscripts and 1,500 are incunabula.  The oldest manucscript is the Strahovospel, dated in 860 A.D.    Our visit focused on the Philosophical Hall, while there is additionally the Theological Hall.

 

One of only three remaining old library “research desks” in the world, this clever “desk” had rotating shelves that allow a scholar to have multiple open books accessible instant

One of only three remaining old library “research desks” in the world, this clever “desk” had rotating shelves that allow a scholar to have multiple open books accessible instantly, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Muralist Anton Maulbertsch painted the fresco called “Spiritual Development of Mankind” on the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library ceiling from 1776 to 1778, Strahov Monastery,

Muralist Anton Maulbertsch painted the fresco called “Spiritual Development of Mankind” on the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library ceiling from 1776 to 1778, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

This section of the “Spiritual Development of Mankind” fresco in the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, contains motifs with Old Te

This section of the “Spiritual Development of Mankind” fresco in the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, contains motifs with Old Testament themes – in the center of the painting are tablets with the Ten Commandments and Moses with the Ark of the Covenant behind them

 

Details of the 18th century woodworking and gold gilding in the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

Details of the 18th century woodworking and gold gilding in the Philosophical Hall of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

The prize possession of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, is the Strahovospel (“The Strahov Evangeliary”) manuscript dating back to 860-865 A.D.; the b

The prize possession of the Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic, is the Strahovospel (“The Strahov Evangeliary”) manuscript dating back to 860-865 A.D.; the binding (9th to 16th centuries) is decorated with statuary and gems

 

Two pages of the Strahovospel (“The Strahov Evangeliary”) manuscript dating back to 860-865 A.D., Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic; “illuminations of the

Two pages of the Strahovospel (“The Strahov Evangeliary”) manuscript dating back to 860-865 A.D., Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic; “illuminations of the Evangeliats represent Trier School of Ottoman book painting”

 

A hand painted page from the Missale of Louka, 1483, Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

A hand painted page from the Missale of Louka, 1483, Strahov Library, Strahov Monastery, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, is located just below Prague Castle and has an outstanding view of the city and the Vltava River and Old Town, beyond, from

Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, is located just below Prague Castle and has an outstanding view of the city and the Vltava River and Old Town, beyond, from the terrace where we dined al fresco

 

From our hotel in Old Town, Prague, Czech Republic, our friends and we walked across the Charles Bridge to the neighborhood below Prague Castle (which is referred to as the Hradčany district) where we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně on the terrace (4th floor) of the Golden Well Hotel.  From the terrace the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires.”  The hotel, which dates back to 1528, is situated just below the Royal Gardens of Prague Castle.  The restaurant was extensively renovated in 2008 and has been rated for several years as the best restaurant in the Czech Republic (by Tripadvisor.com) and is highly rated by the Michelin Guide.  The chef, Pavel Sapík, comes from a family from Southern Moravia, where his family had worked as inn-keepers and butchers since the 17th century.

 

From the terrace, the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires”, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

From the terrace, the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires”, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of white asparagus soup, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of white asparagus soup, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of shrimp in an Oriental broth, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of shrimp in an Asian broth, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of scallops with asparagus, strawberries, and caviar, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of scallops with asparagus, strawberries, and caviar, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of foie gras two ways with fruit sorbet and macaroons, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of foie gras two ways with fruit sorbet and macaroons, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An entrée of lamb loin with fava beans, snow peas, pea puree, white mushrooms and demi-glace, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

An entrée of lamb loin with fava beans, snow peas, pea puree, white mushrooms and demi-glace, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An entrée of duck breast with gnocchi and vegetables, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

An entrée of duck breast with gnocchi and vegetables, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

After dinner, the view of the city from Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, included the full moon – a fitting conclusion to a wonderful evening

After dinner, the view of the city from Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, included the full moon – a fitting conclusion to a wonderful evening

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Prague (Czech: Praha), Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic, a magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten cen

Prague (Praha in Czech), Czech Republic, a magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries; this view of the 1402 pedestrian Charles Bridge was taken just after sunrise from our hotel room

 

Prague (Czech: Praha), capital city of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River.  Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, which gives an animated hourly show.  Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with statues of Catholic saints.  Prague, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries.  The city is famous for its unique medieval architecture, and the historical center of Prague is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

 

Prague, Czech Republic, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuri

Prague, Czech Republic, with a population of about 1.2 million, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries

 

Prague, Czech Republic, thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century - many of the city's most important attractions date back to th

Prague, Czech Republic, thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century – many of the city’s most important attractions date back to that age; Prague Castle, on top of the hill (with its church and spires) remains one of the top attractions in the city

 

“This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries.  Almost undamaged by WWII, Prague’s medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her.  Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveler’s thirst for adventure.

“It is regarded by many as one of Europe’s most charming, colorful and beautiful cities, Prague has become the most popular travel destination in Central Europe along with Vienna and Krakow. Millions of tourists visit the city every year.

“Prague was founded in the later 9th century, and soon became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.  The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century — many of the city’s most important attractions date back to that age.  The city also went under Habsburg rule and became the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  In 1918, after World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia.  After 1989 many foreigners, especially young people, moved to Prague.  In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic.” – http://www.wikitravel.org

 

We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, from Vienna, Austria, by high speed rail and our first sight of the city was this beautiful main hall of the Art-Nouveau train station, Praha hlavni

We arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, from Vienna, Austria, by high speed rail and our first sight of the city was this beautiful main hall of the Art-Nouveau train station, Praha hlavní nádraží, that first operated in 1871 and is named Franz Josef Station after Franz Joseph I of Austria

 

One of Europe_s biggest and most beautiful urban spaces, Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) has been Prague_s principal public square since the

One of Europe’s biggest and most beautiful urban spaces, Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) has been Prague’s principal public square since the 10th century, and was its main marketplace until the beginning of the 20th century

 

Kinsky Palace is one of the older buildings in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic; note that all of Old Town in Czech is St

Kinsky Palace is one of the older buildings in Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic; note that all of Old Town in Czech is Staré Město pražské (Staré Město for short)

 

Týn Church and its spires and the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Týn Church and its spires and the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

The Church of Mother of God before Týn, often translated as Church of Our Lady before Týn (Týn Church), is a gothic church and a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague, Czech R

The Church of Mother of God before Týn, often translated as Church of Our Lady before Týn (Týn Church), is a Gothic church and a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague, Czech Republic

 

Architectural and decorative details on one of the buildings in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Architectural and decorative details on one of the buildings in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

The oldest surviving residential-commercial building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) dates from around 1400, Prague, Czech Republic

The oldest surviving residential/commercial building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short) dates from around 1400, Prague, Czech Republic; the famous astronomical clock (covered in scaffolding for renovations during our visit) dates to 1410 (making it the third oldest astronomical clock in the world) and the Old Town Hall gothic tower was constructed in 1364

 

The art glass at Moser (in Prague, Czech Republic, since 1857) is regarded as some of the best in Poland and Europe; their main retail store is in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské n

The art glass at Moser (in Prague, Czech Republic, since 1857) is regarded as some of the best in Poland and Europe; their main retail store is in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short)

 

Beautiful architectural and ornamental details on an old building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

Beautiful architectural and ornamental details on an old building in the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí, or Staromák for short), Prague, Czech Republic

 

Havelské Tržišteē (Havel_s Market) in Old Town (Staré Město pražské) Prague, Czech Republic, dates back to 1232

Havelské Tržišteē (Havel’s Market) in Old Town (Staré Město pražské) Prague, Czech Republic, dates back to 1232

 

Trdelnik is one of the most common pastries to find on Prague_s streets; the pastry was originally known as kurtsoskalacs and hailed from Szekely Land, Transylvania — home of the Sze

Trdelnik is one of the most common pastries to find on Prague’s streets; the pastry was originally known as kurtsoskalacs and hailed from Szekely Land, Transylvania — home of the Szekely Hungarians

 

Musicians playing for the walkers on the pedestrian Charles Bridge in the early evening, Prague, Czech Republic

Musicians playing for the walkers on the pedestrian Charles Bridge in the early evening, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An early evening view of the central east bank of the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic, from the pedestrian Charles Bridge

An early evening view of the central east bank of the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic, from the pedestrian Charles Bridge

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.