Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Days 1-2, from Old Town to Jewish Town to the Prague Castle

Tim Howard, Curator of Exhibits and Research, is currently conducting research in Prague and Budapest. He will be updating the blog as a Field Reporter while he travels and explores. 

The Old Town Hall Square

Well, I finally found some time to sit down at the hotel and write a little something. I've already finished my second full day in Prague. Since I am not able to write every day, I will try not to let my posts get too long, but it will be difficult. Even the most common building in the downtown area is so rich with history and architectural beauty that it's hard to pare down what I will write. So, I will only be able to give a brief summary here.

Arrival Night
After a long plane ride, I finally made it to Prague! The first evening I walked to the Old Town Square where I was able to see the Old Town Hall Tower, which has been keeping astronomical time since 1338! The hands not only measure the time of day, but also the Zodiac. Across the square is the beautiful Tyn Church, which has been around, under several reconstructions since 1256. Currently you can see the reconstructed late Gothic Towers from the Square.

1st Day
Tyn Church
Too much happened on this day to recount all. But most moving was by far the Jewish Quarter. This area, just to the northeast of the Old Town area, has been occupied by the Jewish since the 13th Century.  The synagogues date from the 14th to 19th Centuries. Most moving was the Pinkas Synagogue; the walls were covered with the names of some 80,000 Jews who were forced out of Prague during WWII to live in concentration camps that never came back. The Old-New Synagogue, built in the late 1300s, is the oldest existing synagogue in Europe. The much newer Spanish Synagogue was stunning in its elaborate decoration.
Pinkas Synagogue
Pinkas Synagogue, wall details

Interior of the Old-New Synagogue
Interior of the Spanish Synagogue

2nd Day
Facade of St. Vitus' Cathedral
I spent all of this day at the Prague Castle and I am speechless! With structures in the area since the 800s, (though the oldest existing buildings date from around the 1200s) this complex system of buildings is considered the largest castle in Europe still in use; it is still used by the President of the Czech Republic. Most breathtaking was St. Vitus' Cathedral. Begun in the 1200s and finished in the 1900s, this cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic, Neo-Classical, and Neo-Gothic architectural styles. I also visited the old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane, and the Lobkowicz Palace; and that's not even everything there... Needless to say, I could spend several days just here!

Southern facade of St. Vitus' Cathedral

Looking down the center of the Cathedral

Three stained-glass windows in the Cathedral

I have so much more to share, but I am trying to keep this short, I will end there. Please look forward to my next post in a few days for more from Prague!

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