Europe conjures up imagery of still rivers, glass lakes and snow- capped mountains. It is no wonder then that certain places endear themselves to travellers for those reasons and more. The older generation will remember Czechoslovakia and the countries checkered past. At the time of World War I it was known as the Austro Hungarian Empire encompassing Bohemia and Moravia. Czechoslovakia broke into two countries in 1993 which seemed inevitable with Slovakians and the Czechoslovakians not seeing eye to eye both politically and economically. So as travellers we now have two stunning countries to visit.
The romance of Prague began around the time of the Palaeolithic Age. It is said that a princess married a common ploughman to fulfil a prophecy for the future. This quote seems to show that she indeed did see the magic or dreamt of the future for Prague. ‘I see a vast city, whose glory will touch the stars! I see a place in the middle of a forest where a steep cliff rises above the Vltava River. There is a man, who is chiselling the threshold (prah) for the house. A castle named Prague (Praha) will be built there,’ she envisioned.
For some it is a fairy-tale land with spires and goblins, crystal chandeliers and statues of a bygone era. Today Prague is still noted for incredible Marionettes depicting the past and the present. The puppet (bringing wood to life) theatre dates back to the 17th century. Marionettes tell stories of imps and brave knights, princesses and demons and still entertain children and adults alike the world over.
Prague is also home to the ‘Good King Wenceslas’ Christmas carol written somewhere around 950. Who knew it was that old – the feast of Stephen and the snow laying round about. Wenceslas is buried in the Chapel of St Vitas Cathedral, a stunning testimony to the gothic Romanesque architecture of the time. Prague Castle emanates a sense of history as it proudly stands above the banks of the Vltava River. Built around 880, it is one of the largest castles in the world. Look hard enough and you might see horses riding through the hall.
The city flourished under the reign of Charles the IV in the 14th Century and the Charles Bridge was named to honour his memory. The old town square is like moving through a time capsule. The buildings are old but modern shops have filled the doorways of history. Churches are in abundance with the Tyn Church and the church of St Nicolas being the most prominent. The Mala’ Strana or main square is where you will find many of the tourist hot spots including the world famous Astronomical Clock- built in 1410. There are three main components of the clock and feature the position of the sun and the moon in the sky – and statues of catholic saints. The figure of death strikes the hour with apostles circling the time piece. There is a superstition that indicates the failure to keep the mechanical timepiece in good order will result in Prague suffering some downfall. The calendar dial was added in 1490. It is the main attraction in the square followed by Minute House, the home of famous writer Franz Kafke. Catch the lift in the adjoining building to get a birds eye view of the city. The Jewish Quarter must not be missed with the cemetery allowing us a glimpse of the beauty and romance of the past. Happy Travelling
Deanne Scanlan Travel - Follow me on Facebook and Instagram