Czech Republic (Czechia)
Prague is situated on the Vltava River. The Old Town Bridge Tower is a very old, beautiful Gothic Tower on one end of the Charles Bridge. It was completed in 1380 and forms part of the old fortification system of Prague, built to protect the Old Town from northern invaders. You can climb 138 steps inside the tower to get to the tower gallery. Once there, you can enjoy a view over Charles Bridge, the Vltava River, Old Town and Prague Castle.
We took the picture to the left during a night time walk across the Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge links the two sides of Prague. There are always people on the bridge. Street artists sketch and musicians play as the crowds walk about.
Originally, the only decoration on the bridge was a simple crucifix. Later, the Catholics wanted more ornamentation and added 30 statues between 1600 and 1800. There are currently 75 statues on Charles Bridge. Of course, many are copies, as floods and catastrophies over the centuries damaged the originals beyond repair.
The bridge and its surroundings look very different during the day versus the night. We would recommend strolling across it during both day and night to experience the very different panoramic views of the city.
The bridge was originally called Stone Bridge. It's 621 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide. It's also currently shielded by ice guards. It's considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic style buildings in the world. It's truly a treasure and a very memorable experience.
There are so many things to see in Praha (Prague). We had the opportunity to tour the inside and the outside of the biggest and most important church in the Czech Republic.
St. Vitus Cathedral is a towering gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral built in the 1300's. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague and a place where saints, kings, princes and emperors of Bohemia are buried.
St. Wenceslas Chapel is decorated with frescoes and semi precious stones. The Crown Chamber is where the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are stored.
It's free to enter the first part of St. Vitus Cathedral but you need to get a ticket to see the entire cathedral. It's well worth the time and money to see it.
The cathedral is part of a vast complex that includes the Hradcany Castle, the Romanesque Basilica of St. George, an old monestary, defense towers and other structures.
In this picture, to the left, we are at the south end of the Cechuv Bridge which we had just walked across after our exploration of St. Vitus Cathedral. This is one of many bridges that span the Vltava River. The bridge was completed in 1908.
In the background, the Hradcany Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral complex is visible.
Hradcany Castle is said to be the biggest castle in the world. It's almost 570 meters in length and around 130 meters wide.
Rulers made their own additions so there is a mixture of styles. The castle has three courtyards and it has always been the seat of Czech rulers, as well as their official residence.
From here we walked down Parizska Street which was lined with ornate buildings and led us to the old Jewish Ghetto.
The picture to the right is of the castle/cathedral complex and is one of many "Kodak spots" that can be found throughout the city.
As many pictures as we take, we're thankful for digital photography! Whether taking pictures of the architecture of the Hradcany neighborhood, Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Romanesque Basilica olf St. George, the Renaissance Archbishop's Palace, a monastery, defense towers, the royal complex or the Castle District, we're sure to have hundreds of pictures to enjoy.
And, of course, there are pictures of buildings and clusters of homes on the River Vltava with the characterstically decorated Czech hooded dormer homes.
Wenceslaus Square is one of the two main squares in the city of Prague. It's a bustling area of restaurants, hotels, shops and apartments.
The National Museum, which sits atop one end of the square is the largest and oldest museum in the Czech Republic. The picture to the left is of the National Museum. This neo-Renaissance building was completed in 1891.
On some evenings, it is a setting for classical music concerts. We found it to be a great place to walk around and take in the atmosphere.
We found a very nice restaurant where we had an enjoyable dinner of goulash with a hot fudge sundae for dessert. The fresh Pilsner Urquell was excellent!
The picture to the right highlights some of the hotels that are situated on the square. The yellow one in the middle of the picture is the Hotel Europa.
In the photo to the left, we are in front of the the Medieval Astronomical Clock located in the other main square, Old Town Square. The oldest part of the clock dates back to 1410. On the hour, every hour, a small trap door opens and Christ walks out ahead of his disciples. All twelve apostles are included in the procession. The skeleton of death tolls the bell to a defiant statue of a Turk.
The Astronomical Clock also has 12 medallions with the signs of the Zodiac below the clock.
We didn't know it at the time but there is a staircase inside the Old Town Hall Tower that one can take to enjoy the view of the Old Town Square.
In 1364 the Old Town Hall Tower was joined to a private home adjoining it. Then, that home was joined to another, and on and on until there was an amalgamation of builldings that became known as the Old Town Hall. In 1470 the buildings were remodeled in the Gothic style.
The picture to the right shows us in the market area of the square. Dating back to the late 12th century, the Old Town Square started life as a central marketplace for Prague.
Over the next few centuries, several buildings of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles were erected around the market. As you walk through the square today, there are a variety of vendors selling roast pig, hot wine, pretzels, cotton candy and beer.
During our visit to Prague we encountered an unusual cold spell so we purchased hats, scarves and gloves to bundle ourselves up as we walked throughout the city.
The picture to the left, showing the colorful rooftops of Prague, was taken from Hradcany Castle.
Prague truly is a beautiful city. Nicknames for Prague have included "city of 100 spires".
The extensive historic center of Prague has been included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.
The glorious city of Prague showcases a myraid of architectural styles.
We truly enjoyed our all to short vist to Prague.
The National Museum in Prague is made up of two buldings. The Main Building is the original, the interior of which is closed for renovation until June 2015.
The other is the New Building which became part of the National Museum in 2009. This building was previously the parliament during the communist era.
The main building sits at the top of Wenceslas Square, behind the statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse. It is built on the site of the former Horse Gate which was Prague's horse market.
The Museum is grand, includes sweeping staircases, and intricate stonework.