Prague: Survivor of the Nazis and Russians

 

Prag-River2Researching  before  a trip is good, but it’s still a shock when you arrive. The picture above revealed more about Prague, City of the Czech Republic, than what we had read. Prague, derived from the old Slavic root “Praga” means “ford” and the second one above is the Charles Bridge (1402) crossing the Vitava  River,  the most important connection between Prague Castle (up the hill on the right)  and the Old Town (on the left). This bridge gave birth to the city.

CharlesBridge    A truly Pedestrian BridgeWe crossed, heading for Prague Castle. This pedestrian bridge  was crowded: locals, tourists, sellers of all the accouterments  of a popular tourist site. There are 30 statures (1700) of important saints and heroes posted along the sides.

st-vitus-cathedral-prague-castle-hradcany

St. Vitus Cathedral (1344) dominates the hilltop and the castle surrounds it. The original castle was built in 1135 (still visible in the basement) while another was built in the 13th century….and another in the 14th. The site is a treasure trove of period buildings and antiquities.

 

richard-nebesky-two-guards-in-front-of-the-gate-to-prague-castle-hradcany-czech-republic

 

 

 

 

We were greeted by guards at the entrance…but without searches or charge.

 

 

 

 

 

thQQ7T3JDQ  inside Prague's Hardcany Castle

 

 

There are numerous squares in this large castle and we only had the time and energy to check out this one, a museum and coffee at an outdoor  café. We decided to head down to the Charles Bridge and the Old Town.

 

 

 

Top-7-Things-to-do-in-Prague-in-the-Czech-Republic

 

Our return path stepped down steeply through the narrow street with tightly clustered houses  looming  above us. About half-way, we stopped for lunch and a glass of wine…reviving!

 

 

 

charles-bridge-2   Fog The fog had eclipsed the sun by the time we reached the Charles Bridge and “damped” the number of people crossing. And it was only 4:30.

The Wenceslas Square

wenceslas-squareThis square, originally a horse-market in 1348, became the hub of Prague life. In 1919 the Czechs  celebrated their Independence of becoming The Republic.

Later the Square was mobbed with a million Czechs assembled to celebrate their riddance of the Nazis followed by the process of separation from the Soviet Union.  This area with the statue, lights, restaurants and people seemed to reflect their joy!

Down the street Mike spotted the Grand Hotel Europa (fitting name).

 

wen12     Grand Hotel Europa

Rebuilt in 1889 in the Art Nouveau Style with glittering lights and bright colors.

Europa inside

Notice the columns, brown woodwork and arches in the 1st level bar/café. The dining room  above is partially hidden behind the beautiful, arched balcony.

We had an excellent dinner in the upstairs restaurant —where it was difficult to efficiently place the fork in one’s mouth—while staring at the beautiful décor. After wiping our faces, we decided to look at one more square. There was lots of pedestrian activity and many lights. The National Theatre was nearby and well lit.

Fotografoval: Libor Svacek, Kaplicka 447, Cesky Krumlov, 381 01 CZ

When the original theatre burnt down in 1881, it had become so vital to the National Consciousness, that Czechs from all walks of life contributed money to rebuilding. In 1868, this picture shows the result of their desire for music, plays, artists and writers. Theaters sprang up all over the country emphasizing the importance of the Czech culture.

 

national-theatreL2PCGP52

 

Standing by the river, looking up at the top, I thought there were people moving about ….but only statues. Time to return to the hotel and bed…….too much wine with dinner.

 

 

The next morning we headed across Wenceslas Square to the National Museum.

6ae32d25a3d686a37ae4a796ef2c17b8  National Museum, Prague, Czech RepublicThis Neo-Renaissance structure, completed in 1890, over looked the square and was fronted by a fountain splashing water over an allegorical figure that symbolized the Czech Nation. If you were there and looking closely at the façade, you would shell marks from the Worsaw Pack tanks from the Prague invasion in 1968.

1024px-NM_interior_1of National Museum

What a delight to enter the Museum and see the spectacular Grand Staircase with

an overhead  skylight! This hall way leads to the Pantheon…which would have been fascinating, but we had more places to go and much to see.

On to the Staronova  Synagogue of the Old-New Synagogue (originally  called the “New” Synagogue until another was built nearby and later destroyed ).

17429652-md  Old Synagogue, Prague

Built around 1270, this is the oldest Synagogue in Europe. It survived fires, slum clearances of the 19th century and Jewish pogroms. It frequently was a refuge and now is a religious center for Jews. It is almost totally surrounded by the Old Jewish Cemetery.

In the 13th century  the Prague Ghetto had been formed by Jewish Tradesmen who settled here . There were conflicts over the following years but the Ghetto grew and became part of Prague.

 

 

In 1940 the Nazis  arrived and the Jews were registered and segregated.  The Nazis confiscated their homes, businesses, apartments and closed the Synagogues. Then they deported them to concentration camps.                                                                                        The Ghetto cemetery

1373992353_1df8b09b43_z  Old Synagogue Cematary

Founded in 1478, this was the only burial ground permitted to Jews. Due to the lack  of space, bodies were buried on top of bodies—up to 12 layers deep. There are over 12,000 gravestones standing, but it’s estimated that there are over 100,000 bodies buried there.

The Jewish Ghetto,  ironically, survived destruction because, although the Nazis destroyed ghettos elsewhere, they wanted to preserve this Prague “collection” as a Museum of the extinct Jewish Race in Europe after the Final Solution had been achieved!!

We were leaving soon, so we stopped by a typical Czech Old Town Square and admired  the enthusiasm and endurance of these people.Czech-Republic-Prague-Old-Town-Square-Night-L

 

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About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels. Kevin Klimczak, extraordinaire, is the website designer and editor of the blogs.
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5 Responses to Prague: Survivor of the Nazis and Russians

  1. rabbiray says:

    WOW, Sissy hat is some presentation of Prague and its only a few inches from Moscow!! Take me with you next time.

    • carolinebotwin says:

      From what I have learned, I think Prague can hold their own against anybody….but
      you’re on your own with Russia. Thanks for the comment!

  2. carolinebotwin says:

    Reblogged this on 2Independent-Travelers.

  3. Ann says:

    What a beautiful city. No wonder so many historical/costume dramas are filmed here. Really enjoyed this!

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