Saturday, September 14, 2013

Prague, Presidents, Problem, Police.......eeek!

We left our hotel headed for Praska Hrad (Prague Castle). It was likely to be an all day affair, and the ticket was actually valid for two days since there was so much to see during a visit. We too the metro to Mustek.

At Mustek we transferred to another train, and rode to Malostranska. Little did we know what would transpire between this stop and Starometska several hours later.

Disembarking at Malostranska, it was clear this was no ordinary stop since it was evident by the statuary in the lobby of the metro stop.

When we went outside there was a water fountain. I had to sample the local vintage. Scooterchick was appalled. You're not actually going to drink from that thing are you? It tasted good!

We transferred to Tram #22 and rode up the hill to Prasky Hrad stop. As soon as we left the tram we walked onto the castle grounds. This was one of the gates to the royal garden, before you get to the castle proper.

The next thing one sees is a long view of St. Vitus Cathedral. It's full name is actually the Cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adelbert. The construction began in 1344 and it was actually opened to the public in 1929.

This is the entrance to the castle proper. We pass through and enter Courtyard #1 to purchase tickets. Tickets start at 200CK, but we opted for the full meal deal which was 350CK plus a photopass for an extra 50CK and a map, another 5CK.

This brought our total to 755CK or about $38.75USD. Not too bad you'd think.

This is a selfie of yours truly standing at the entrance to the courtyard. I'm excited to be here. After all when does one get the opportunity to go traipsing around a castle that has been here since 870. It has been the seat of Bohemian Kings, The Holy Roman Empire and the President of the Czech Republic.

Shortly after we arrived we heard the sound of a fanfare, and saw part of the ceremony of the Changing of the guard, which occurs every day at 12:00.

Here is a grand staircase which is not accessible to the public, but which is very picturesque.....there's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold (shameless ripoff.)

We need to find a bathroom so followed our map to the marked position. A lady was guarding the gate and demanding 10CK (about $ .50)

Really.....really? I didn't realize the government of the Czech Republic it needed an extra half a buck so I know. I decided to hold it!!!

Here are Patsy and I at what could be the Midget entrance to the cathedral.

This is the cathedral itself. We had to wait in line to enter, but it was worth it.

The stained glass alone was worth the wait. I guess if you have access to a Royal Treasury, you can afford some swanky windows. It must have taken years to complete this and there are at least a dozen equally intricate ones in this joint.

I think this was the equivalent of the pulpit. While the prelate was dozing up front they would have had some lesser luminary give the homily. It was entered from floor level and there was a spiral staircase perhaps 20 feet to get up to this box.

This is one of the crypts off to the side of the cathedral. Needed a whole lot of coin for a place of thus prominence and lavishness.

There was a statue of an angel (Michael?) spearing the devil with a spear bearing the marks of the Holy Trinity. Pretty plain message for the masses.

Here is another crypt with reliquaries. These were bones of Saints, and were imagined to have some mystical sanctifying power. All I know was there were enough reliquaries floating around that you would wonder if there was anything left of the bodies of the saint where they were supposed to be buried.

I am not sure what this was. Perhaps the Royal Coat Rack. It was incredibly decorative and intricate. Someone spent a lot of time on it.

Rounding the end of the cathedral, we came upon this casket of St. john of Nepomuk. He was drowned in the river at the behest of King Wenceslas, because he acted in a disagreeable manner. He was the confessor of the Queen and it is said he refused to break the sanctity of the confessional.

The crypt is solid silver, of unknown weight and is very finely wrought. I imagine the church had it placed right where Wenceslas could be reminded of it as long as he was king.

Another picture of the detail. What amazing work.

Here is another side crypt. Who this was I don't know, but the three saints of the cathedral are standing guard on his monument. Dude #4, I don't know either....

This is an allegorical figure holding the "light of the world" When you consider that it is carved of stone it took a very fine touch indeed.

This is very impressive. Consider if you will starting with a stone slab, of perhaps 4 by 24 feet and then meticulously carving away everything that does not fit. Your final plan is a balcony with hanging arch which has a pendant center above floor height of perhaps 8 feet. Then the whole thing is brought into the Cathedral and painstakingly blocked up inch by inch to rest on  pillars awaiting it's arrival. Was this the Papal box? Certainly seems weighty enough.

This is a view toward the organ loft. We did not get to hear the organ, but I am sure the interior of the cathedral resounds with it's tones.

Leaving the cathedral we continue our investigation of the site. Here Scooterchick is pretending to demand keep a knockin'  (another equally shameless ripoff.)

This is the entrance to a toy shop and another exhibit. We passed on this one.

This is the Basilica of St. George. It was commissioned by Vratislav I of Bohemia in the year 870, and is the oldest church on the castle grounds.

There is a side altar, to which we are not allowed entrance. No commoners here sorry. Who knows what dusty relics repine within.............ahhhhhchooo!

This box is reputed to contain the remains of St. Wenceslas, who was the son of King Wenceslas. A lot of Wencesly to keep straight, or is it Wenceslites?

This is a crypt on the way out. There are statues to each side, and if you look carefully you can see the skeleton of the interred in the base.......creepy or what.

What are we supposed to venerate the bones this what we're doing now?

This is the dome above this area. These guys liked a lot of decoration.

By now it was time for a break. It had been raining hard while we were under the protection of St. George....or at least the roof of St. George and the crowd had thinned substantially, so we had this little place to ourselves. look it's a picture of you taking a picture of me taking a picture of you, or something like that.

We decided on coffee and warm strudel. Good choice as it had turned chilly and this was just enough to warm us up.

This is the street that leads to the castle exit. Close enough, on we go.

This was a Christmas store. we decided against anything from here. It was tiny and incredibly crowded. I'm sure there is an expression in Czech  that probably goes something like  Můžete zlomit jste jej zakoupili. (you break it you bought it.)

Our tickets included the Rozenberg Palace. Though we didn't go through this door, I would have liked to. Cool eh?

This was the chapel. It was small but it had a 4 story ceiling which contributed a very airy feeling, though what you do with all that wasted space is beyond me.

This showed some period furniture from the 1700's. In this parlor you could receive the ladies for tea of an afternoon. Just ring for the servants to bring the tea and cakes when you're ready.

Perhaps you would prefer to catch up on some correspondence. This desk was situated at a window for light and had a commanding view of the city.

These are some plaster casts of gargoyles from the cathedral. The artist would design the gargoyle in plaster, then the mason used the models for the gargoyles.

This is the gate to the toy museum. It was ripe with symbolism of the guilds which kept offices in here before it became a museum.

So we leave the castle grounds. Here is one of the guards at the gate.

One gets an excellent view of the city from the ramparts.

Here are your intrepid correspondents, blissfully unaware of the trouble scant minutes away.

Another view from the ramparts toward the Vltava. The city is quite as large.

This is the long stairway that leads down toward Malostranska. It was a steady walk down and at one point there were an accordionist and his violin accompanist. As we walked by they started to play a tango, so we took a few turns on the steps, and were applauded by other tourists.

We got to Malostranska and boarded the metro. At Starometska, I had to step off to allow some people off, an discovered my wallet was missing. I actually collared the little reprobate that had it, but he cried no no and pointed towards 2 of his accomplices that had distracted me on the train. When I turned around, he was gone, and though I raced up the escalator and gave chase until I thought my heart would burst, he was in the wind.......

We returned to the hotel, cancelled the credit cards, and had to go to the police station to make a report. By now the sun was setting.

I made my report and talked to a police constable named Lucie and described the incident to the best of my ability. She remarked, "oh yes that's exactly how they do it." She made note of our hotel, and if my wallet shows up they will bring it. I think the chances are twofold. SLIM AND NONE!!!

I had to calm down. That's why this blog post is a day good night.


Helen Marie said... sorry for this trouble you had on the tram.

I'm glad though that you got to enjoy this massive exquisite beauty of a! is all I can say...amazing.


Scootard said...

Thank you Helen. The thing about Europe is you can't go anywhere without tripping over history, We have seen things from the First Century AD on up. Amazing!