Charles Bridge, Town Square, Town hall tower, Castle Hill, Vrtbovská zahrada
Prague is, without a doubt, a beautiful city. We had all of two full days, plus an additional evening to skim the surface of what the city has to offer. Now for the complaint section. Prague is very tourist oriented. And, tourists take advantage of that orientation. The city was far more crowded than any others we visited, and much of the old world charm was lost to the jostle of the crowd. (IMHO...)
We arrived in the afternoon. After moving into our astonishingly small hotel room (at least you didn't have to worry about falling out of bed...) we put on our walking shoes and headed out on our own.
- Afternoon walk - we went through old town to the Charles bridge and crossed over to the west side of the river. We were headed to the Manessuv bridge to take pictures of the Charles bridge. As we were walking down a narrow street we saw crowds of people emerging from a small gate. Not wanting to feel left out, we pressed upstream through the crowd into a large garden, only to find we were on the grounds of the Wallenstein Palace, the current home of the Czech Senate! Here we came upon one of the most unusual things I have ever seen - the Dripstone Wall! Only pictures are adequate to describe this unusual feature. On our way back we found the main square and went to the top of the town hall tower for amazing vistas of the city at near dusk.
The next day was a quick bus ride to the Castle Hill to see Pražský hrad. (let's see, a tour of 'Castle Hill'... this must be Budapest! oh, no, wait.. Bratislava! no? Krakow?!) Well, in any case here we are. We watched a changing of the guard, which was almost humorous as the guards tried to perform their ritual amidst the adoring throngs surrounding them. The castle dates to the year 870. It is currently the seat of the Head of State for the Czech Republic.
- The castle
- The hike down the hill
- Old Town
- The concert on the hill - the most grueling event of the tour was the hike to the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence on Petřín hill. The chapel dates at least to 1135. It was hot, and I was carrying a heavy camera bag, music and recording equipment. When we arrived, the chapel was so tiny that our small choir took up more than half of the available seats. When we stood to sing our first number, my seat was quickly claimed by a parishioner and I remained standing for the entire mass, plus the hour concert afterwards, then carrying everything back down the hill to the bus. I barely had enough energy left for the...
- Evening in old town
Our final day in Prague (and the end of our tour) was a free day. We hit the sidewalks early. The sky was mostly overcast and temperatures were cool. We made our way on foot through the city on yet another adventure..
- Vrtbovská zahrada (Vrtbovska gardens) - This baroque era terraced Italian style garden is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in the early 18th century, designed by a Czech architect and is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Prague. We arrived minutes after the gardens opened and had the place pretty much to ourselves for the better part of an hour!
- Palacove zahrady pod Prazskym hradem (Gardens below the Prague Castle) is a series of terraces that have been tended as gardens for centuries. These gardens are more 'working' gardens, as opposed to formal gardens, with grapes, figs, fruit trees, etc.
- Czech Senate Building - We discovered the Senate Building is open to visitors on the weekends. What a treat - This is the Wallenstein Palace we inadvertently visited on our first afternoon in Prague.
- Our final pass through the city center on our way back to the hotel and ultimately home.