STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Old Town Square and Praha from above

I'm getting a little behind on the blogging. My main purpose for doing this from Prague was not only so that you can follow along on my adventures but also to serve as my Journal, as I am not keeping a written one- no time to do both... As I have already mentioned, the Internet connections are often iffy and uploading of photos takes forever, some nights. Other times it is pretty good... so I'm just doing the best I can with what energy I have left at the end of the day (and usually it's minimal!!)

After the Photo adventure on Monday, I was bushed. The walking and the hot sun were beginning to catch up with me, so Tuesday was a bit of a slower day. I knew I could not keep up this brutal pace we had set the first four days... I headed over to Old Town and going up the Old Town Hall Clock Tower for the view was number one on my list.

Old Town Square, "Staromêstské Námêsti",
(yes, we are even learning the Czech pronunciations of these places!) is one of the busiest parts of Central Prague; I'd call it one of "The Big Three" (Prague Castle and Charles Bridge being the other two.) It is a very "happening" spot with lots to see and do so it's always crowded with tourists. Of course the Astronomical Clock is the big draw- the crowd deepens significantly just before the hour when it puts on its show. But there is lots more to draw your attention in the Square.

The Church of Our Lady before Týn (pronounced teen), above left, with its black gothic towers is truly a landmark, as are the Baroque Church of St. Nicholas and the Rococo Kinsky Palace. But there is also the large Jan Hus monument, (first photo above) and a ring of houses around the square with architectural styles to blow your mind. You name it, it's here- Rococo, Baroque, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Art Nouveau... Many buildings are hotels, cafés, galleries or shops, some more worthy of a look than others. There's even a Chocolate Museum with various unmentionable body parts made of chocolate. (No I haven't been there yet, but I will... not for the body parts, just for the chocolate!)

There are also the "food carts", offering everything from the famous Prague ham or sausages to sweet treats like palačinka (called pancakes, but we would call them crêpes) to trdlnik. The palačinka are filled with your choice of fillings - ham and cheese, chocolate, etc. (Which do you think I chose?) It was so big, I couldn't finish it... I had a great chat with the young lady while she made my chocolate-filled treat..she had lots of questions about Canada...

You can find a variety of options to take you on a tour, including horse and carriage, bicycles, segways, or a bicycle bar pedalled by the 6 (embibing) riders. {Note to self: Give these guys a wide berth.} Sorry - no photo...

There is always music to be found- from string quartets on the streets to medieval music in the Square on instruments I could not begin to name, to classical concerts in just about every church in the city.
This medieval band(?) were playing very interesting music... I also liked the curly-toed shoes.... They must have been very hot in their "leathers"...

There are numerous "characters" for you to pose with for photos. One day we saw a large Hare Krishna procession with music and dancing, with followers pulling a huge float with ropes. I've lost count of how many newly married couples we have seen (all Russian, apparently.) And I should not forget the 27 white crosses which mark the spot where 27 Protestant Leaders were beheaded in 1621 after rebelling against the Catholic Hapsburgs. Yes, its a hub of activity and things to see. Laura's classes have been just off this square all week in a building which is part of NYU. I'm not sure how they've been able to concentrate with all the "goings-on" right outside their windows.... (her course has gone very well, by the way, and her assignment is done.)

The narrow Melantrichova Street, leading from the bottom of Wenceslas Square into Old Town Square, is an experience in itself, always clogged with tourists each time I've passed through (and each time I swear there are things which were not there before. Your senses are on overload here- you cannot possibly take it all in...there is so much to see..) It passes Havelská Market where open air stalls sell fresh produce, fresh flowers and handcrafts along with the typical tourist souvenirs. The roses are so beautiful and so cheap compared to home... I'm quite sure the shown price is per rose- about $0.60. Two things that are "big" here are puppets and wooden toys.

The Old Town Hall and Clock Tower sit amidst all this noisy activity, surveying the admiring onlookers from around the world. The Old Town Hall was established in 1338; its tower at 228 feet offers spectacular views over the city. I won't tell you how long I stood in line to see those views, but it was worth it once I was there... I also enjoyed lunch at a rooftop café one day affording me a wonderful view of the Old Town Hall, Clock Tower and Týn Church.

I'll finish off with a few shots taken from the top of the tower, over the city. Of course in each direction there is a new view, each beautiful in its own way. All rooftops are red tile, no shingles here. The variety in the shapes and sizes of spires, towers and domes is impressive and Prague is known for its skyline of spires. From the Gothic and Neo-Gothic spires that soar skywards to the onion-shaped domes and rounded cupolas, each is striking... I think a student of architecture could be happy in this city for a long while...

Looking down on where narrow Melantrichova Street empties into the Square (between blue bldg. and beige, just left of centre)
Looking towards Petrin Hill Park, our hotel is at base of hill, left of photo centre
Looking towards Prague Castle and St.Vitus Cathedral in distance
Looking down on Church of St. Nicholas, now a Czech Hussite Church 
Love the facades of these three. Yellow bldg. houses Ministry of Local Development
Dark tower on left is Powder Tower, one of original gates into the city. Modern tower on skyline (right) is Žižkov tower, erected by Communists not just to broadcast Czech TV but also to jam Western signals
I just love these Gothic spires.. shades of Disney... I keep expecting to see Cruella DeVille come sweeping out the door...

"Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs." ~ Susan Sontag


Dolores said...

Great photos and it is a nice photo journal. I never thought of doing that.
While an architectural student may be happy, an arborist would have nothing to do. It finally dawned on me what was missing in a lot of European cities (or at least around the main attractions) - trees.

Linda H said...

You are right, Dolores. Very few trees in old section, although there are trees along streets in newer sections. There is only one (wider) tree-lined street off Old Town Square.

GailM. said...

Amazing. Everything has such a long history. Grammie Camp is over and I'm home. Bushed. I'm going back to re-read all your blogs. I really want to soak up as much info as I can so when I go, I'll have an idea of how to approach my touring. Stay cool!!!

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