We started off the day with a guide named, Carl. He took us on a city tour of Prague. First we drove around in a bus to see the different sections and then the driver dropped us off in the Castle District. We continued our tour by walking for the rest of the time. The Castle District is on top of a hill 300 meters above sea level. The square at the top is an encyclopedia of European Architecture. There is Gothic, Baroque, Florentine, Renaissance and even a plain Bohemian Monastery all these buildings display the different styles of architecture over the ages. Prague was not bombed during the wars so these buildings have remained intact.
The Castle District is lovely. The Arch-Bishop’s Cathedral, St. Vitus Cathedral, is the sixth largest church in the world. The difference between a church and a cathedral is that cathedrals have Bishops and churches just have priests. Anyway this Cathedral is 1,200 years old! It has been added to and rebuilt over the years but it was started 1,200 years ago! The Bell Tower is 100 meters high! We didn’t get to view the inside but the outside is beautiful and reminded me of Notre Dame in Paris. Many Czech Kings and Noblemen are buried inside this church and all the Czech coronations were held here. There are actually five churches in the Castle District but this is the most amazing one.
Just behind the Cathedral is Golden Lane which is a street with all these tiny shops selling tourist items. Originally it was used as housing for the labourers working on the wall fortification and the palaces then they were turned into shops.
The word Bohemia was used to denote the Czech people and the Czech language before “Czech” became used in the English Language. In the year 1918 the Kingdom of Bohemia ceased to exist. This was when the Austrian/Hungarian Empire collapsed after WW I and Czechoslovakia was formed. Then the Nazi’s occupied Czechoslovakia before WW II and after WW II Soviets occupied the Country. In 1989 or there abouts Czechoslovakia was split into two independent countries Czech Republic and Slovakia. Throughout the ages six different Political systems governed Czech Republic over the years and today they are celebrating 20 years of liberation from the Soviet Union.
Eleven million people live in Czech Republic and 1.3 live in Prague. 21% of Czech Republic is religious whereas, in all the neighbouring countries such as Germany, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary 95% of the people are Catholic. So the Czechs are not as religious as their neighbours.
As we toured the city of Prague we walked across the Charles Bridge which is just one of 17 Bridges over the Vltava River. Charles Bridge is a “pedestrian only” bridge and has over 30 statues on it. One statue is of St. John of Nepomuk, who was thrown over the bridge to his death for refusing to tell the King what the Queen said in confession.
In the middle of Lessor Town (Just below the Castle District) is “Little Italy”. The Italians were invited here to live and help construct Prague. The Italians were the architects, artisans and bricklayers. They are still living here today and have their own school and churches where Italian is spoken. The Germans were also invited to live here in Prague and they lived here as a minority. Most of them were the noblemen and lords. For 700 years they lived here and after WW II they were expelled and sent back to Germany. Part of the Yalta decision!!
One of the streets we walked down was where the movie Amadeus was filmed. We also passed a portrait of Prince Winceslas on a building. There is so much history here, I love it. After lunch we stopped our tour and just walked around on our own. For dinner we met up with Heda, Thomas, and Martin who are with the Czech Woman’s Softball organization. Also Petra, and Ludec who are with the Czech Olympic Nordic Ski Team. We had a nice dinner and made plans with these two groups for them to stay at our house when they come to Canada.