A Travellerspoint blog

Czech Republic

Prague - the Heart of Europe.

large_IMG_20200403_172227.jpg
Mosaic above the Beaufort family memorial, Vysehrad Cemetery.

Prague is another place we visited long before I ever wrote travel pages or blogs so now that the world is closed due to covid 19, I may as well finally get around to writing it up.

large_IMG_20200403_172044.jpg

Maskovy family memorial, Vysehrad Cemetery.

We went to Prague in 1999. We got there by flying Swissair from Hong Kong to Zurich and then on to Prague. Our trip did not start well. We had read that airport taxi drivers were notorious for ripping off tourists, so we prepaid for our taxi and got a voucher. Our taxi driver was furious that he had had to wait in a queue to pick up tourists only to find that he could not rip us off as we had already paid. As a result he swore at us, threw our trolley bag around, shouted at us for the whole journey and drove like a maniac, almost crashing several times. Of course if he had just been pleasant, he would have got a tip. Needless to say he didn't. I've never been so relieved to get out of a taxi in my life. Fortunately, this insane taxi driver was the only unpleasant person we had to deal with all trip.

Prague from the air.

Prague from the air.

Prague from the air.

Prague from the air.

I don't remember the name of our hotel, but I do know it was quite far from the centre of the city and that we travelled into the city centre by tram. This was easy enough and it meant that our living area was pretty peaceful and quiet.

Prague is an amazingly beautiful city. It is one of the best preserved cities in Europe, as it was not badly bombed in World War II. The Vltava River flows through the centre of Prague. It separates the main areas tourists visit, with Castle Town and Lesser Town on one side of the river, and Old Town and New Town on the other.

One of the most famous sights in Prague is the beautiful Charles Bridge which crosses the Vltava River between the Old Town and the Lesser Town. It is supported by 15 pillars and is 516 meters long. Charles Bridge is called after King Charles IV. Construction of the bridge was carried out by Peter Parler, a famous German-Czech architect. Building began in 1357 and was completed in 1402. At both ends of the bridge there are towers. The one at the Old Town end is called Staroměstská věž and the one on the Lesser Town end is called Malostranská věž. There are thirty Baroque statues on the bridge. The most famous is of St. John of Nepomuk. He was a Czech priest who took confession for Queen Sophia of Bavaria, the second wife of King Wenceslaus IV. King Wenceslaus, convinced his wife had a lover, demanded to know the contents of her confession. When John of Nepomuk refused to divulge it, Wenceslaus had him thrown from the Charles Bridge into the Vltava River where he drowned.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Charles Bridge.

Not far from the Charles Bridge in the area known as the Lesser Town is the Lennon Wall. John Lennon was a hero for many young Czechs. One of his fans painted a picture of John Lennon on a wall opposite the French embassy. This wall then became a common site for the youth of Prague to vent their political frustrations. At one point the wall used to be frequently whitewashed over by the authorities.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall.

Also in Lesser Town stands The Church of St Nicholas. This is the most famous Baroque church in Prague. It was designed by architects Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer and Anselmo Lurago.

Saint Nicholas Church.

Saint Nicholas Church.

Saint Nicholas Church.

Saint Nicholas Church.

At one side of Lesser Town there is a large green hill known as Petřín. This is a park area and can be accessed on foot or by funicular. We went to the top on the funicular. There are beautiful panoramic views over the city from the top of the hill. Also on the hilltop stands Petřín Tower, which resembles France's Eiffel Tower. The Štefánik Observatory is also located on the hill. On the edge of the park stands Strahov Monastery. This monastery was founded in 1140. Its buildings include the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Strahov Library, a Baroque Theological Hall and the Strahov Art Gallery.

At the bottom of Petřín Tower.

At the bottom of Petřín Tower.

At the bottom of Petřín Tower.

At the bottom of Petřín Tower.

Strahov Monastery.

Strahov Monastery.

Strahov Monastery.

Strahov Monastery.

Strahov Monastery.

Strahov Monastery.

The Castle Town area of Prague is made up a large assortment of different buildings in a wide variety of architectural styles. Buildings here include Prague Castle, the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Vitus, the Romanesque Basilica of Saint George, a monastery, palaces: such as Rosenberg Palace, the Archbishop's Palace, gardens and towers. Prague Castle itself is now home to the National Gallery, the Toy Museum and a picture gallery.

Peter outside the Archbishop's Palace.

Peter outside the Archbishop's Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Rosenberg Palace.

Saint George's Basilica.

Saint George's Basilica.

Castle Hill.

Castle Hill.

Looking towards St Vitus's Cathedral and Castle Hill.

Looking towards St Vitus's Cathedral and Castle Hill.

Looking towards St Vitus's Cathedral and Castle Hill.

Looking towards St Vitus's Cathedral and Castle Hill.

The Old Town is on the other side of the Charles Bridge from the Lesser Town and Castle Town. One of the first sights we saw here was the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi. This church is associated with the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. It is designed in Baroque style. It was built between 1679 and 1688 by the architect Jean Baptiste Mathey.

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.

Old Town Square, Staroměstské náměstí, lies at the heart of Prague's Old Town. In this square you can see the Old Town Hall with its medieval astronomical clock. Here you can also see the Church of the Mother of God before Týn, or just the Týn Church for short. In the northwestern corner of Old Town Square. stands the Baroque St. Nicholas Church which was built in the eighteenth century. Also in the square stands the Jan Hus Memorial. Jan Hus was a Czech church reformer who was executed in 1415. The inscription on the monument says “Love one another, wish the truth to everyone”. This is a quote from one of the letters he wrote while he was in prison. One of the most beautiful building in the Old Town Square is the Kinský Palace. From the balcony of this building in 1948 Klement Gottwald announced the beginning of communism in Czechoslovakia. In 1990 Václav Havel symbolically announced the end of communism from the same place.

Týn Church.

Týn Church.

Jan Hus Memorial.

Jan Hus Memorial.

St. Nicholas Church.

St. Nicholas Church.

To one side of Prague's Old Town stands its old Jewish Quarter. Prague has one of Europe's oldest Jewish communities. It has managed to survive in spite of pogroms, expulsions and the holocaust. The best way to see it and learn about it would be to do a guided tour of the area. We did not do this. We just had a quick walk around. We saw the old Jewish Town Hall and the Jewish Ceremonial Hall.

Jewish Town Hall.

Jewish Town Hall.

Jewish Ceremonial Hall.

Jewish Ceremonial Hall.

Near the Old Town Square stands the Gothic Powder Gate which separates the Old Town from the New Town.

The Powder Tower.

The Powder Tower.

In the Old Town.

In the Old Town.

In the Old Town.

In the Old Town.

Prague's New Town was founded in 1348 by King Charles IV. It centers on Wenceslas Square, which was originally built as the Horse Market. Wenceslas Square is really more of a boulevard than a square. At one end stands the neoclassical Czech National Museum. In front of that there is a statue of Saint Wenceslas. Many significant events in Prague's history have taken place on Wenceslas Square. On 28th October 1918, while standing in front of the Saint Wenceslas statue, Alois Jirásek read the proclamation of independence of Czechoslovakia. On 16th January 1969 Jan Palach, a young Czech student, set himself on fire here to protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1989 huge demonstrations were held here as part of the Velvet Revolution.

Wenceslas Square.

Wenceslas Square.

Wenceslas Square.

Wenceslas Square.

We also visited the Dancing House building, sometimes known as Fred and Ginger. This was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić together with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry. It was completed in 1996.

Dancing House.

Dancing House.

Dancing House.

Dancing House.

We also visited Vyšehrad, a historic fort located in the city of Prague, around 3 km southeast of Prague Castle, on the East bank of the Vltava River. This was built in the tenth century. While here we visited the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Vyšehrad Cemetery. In the cemetery we found the grave of composer Antonín Dvorak. There are good views over the river from this area.

Vyšehrad.

Vyšehrad.

Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Mosaic of head of Christ, Vysehrad Cemetery.

Mosaic of head of Christ, Vysehrad Cemetery.

Dvorak's Grave.

Dvorak's Grave.

We also went on a boat trip along the Vltava River. Since it was a long time ago, I don't remember much about the trip but I'll put some river photos here.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

On the Vltava River.

When Eastern Europe opened up at first after the fall of the Iron Curtain, several countries had a terrible reputation for overcharging. We did not experience this in Prague. I don't know if we were just lucky, or just careful or things had already begun to settle down. In any case we had several excellent meals, wonderful beer and even went to a microbrewery that brewed its own high quality beer.

Microbrewery.

Microbrewery.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Prague had great food and beer.

Even when we were leaving the country, hubbie was delighted to find a beer dispensing machine at the airport.

At the airport.

At the airport.

At the airport.

At the airport.

Posted by irenevt 05:40 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (15)

Cheb

storm

Saint Batholomew Church.

Saint Batholomew Church.

Cheb.

We travelled from Weisau in Bavaria to Cheb for the day. The weather was most definitely not on our side. Our morning was interrupted by frequent heavy downpours and by the afternoon we were stuck in a constant deluge that was flooding everything in sight. Despite the weather, we were both really impressed with Cheb. For some reason we had not been expecting all that much from Cheb but we actually really, really liked it. It has a large public square, churches, a castle, museums, a river. The view from St Nicholas Church was wonderful. When we had looked at Cheb we jumped on a train to nearby Františkovy Lansky, a spa town. That was lovely but our visit there coincided with the worst of the weather. When we were leaving by train we had to wade across the railway platforms to board the train. Cheb is a city in the Czech Republic, with about 33,000 inhabitants. It is on the River Ohre. It used to be part of Germany and was once called Eger.

Saint Batholomew Church.

Saint Batholomew Church.

Cheb main square.

Cheb main square used to be its market place. Now it houses the town hall, the tourist office, a fountain, a museum and a group of eleven houses known as Špalícek. These houses are located very close together with very narrow streets dividing them. They date from the thirteenth century. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe frequently visited the Green House which is one of the houses in Špalícek.

Peter in Cheb's main square. - Cheb

Peter in Cheb's main square. - Cheb

Town Hall. - Cheb

Town Hall. - Cheb

Narrow street in Špalícek. - Cheb

Narrow street in Špalícek. - Cheb

Špalícek. - Cheb

Špalícek. - Cheb

Špalícek. - Cheb

Špalícek. - Cheb

Museum behind Špalícek. - Cheb

Museum behind Špalícek. - Cheb

St Nicholas's Church.

After we had visited the market square, we walked to the lovely Church of Saint Nicholas. We could see its spires from the market square. The Church of St. Nicholas was built in the thirteenth century. Throughout its eventful history it has been damaged by fire in 1742 and then rebuilt by architect Balthasar Neumann. The top of its steeples were destroyed during World War II and restored in 2008. We had look inside the church. It was well worth seeing. I then paid a euro to climb up the tower for a view over the town.

Saint Nicholas Church. - Cheb

Saint Nicholas Church. - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Inside the church - Cheb

Views from the church tower.

After looking at the inside of Saint Nicholas Church I paid one Euro to climb up its tower. There were fantastic views over the old and newer parts of Cheb from the top. This was my favourite part of our visit to Cheb.

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

Views from the church tower. - Cheb

The River Ohre.

The River Ohre flows through the centre of Cheb. It is quite a pretty river. I especially liked the area with the covered wooden bridge. It was possible to take pictures from the bridge including the boxes of geraniums that lined it.

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

The River Ohre - Cheb

Cheb Castle.

We were really running out of time when we got to Cheb Castle plus the rain was just starting to pour down once more so we did not pay to go inside. We just took photos from the outside. Cheb Castle was built in the twelfth century, and is now mostly in ruins. Its main attractions are the Chapel of St Erhard and Ursula and its Black Tower.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Cheb Castle.

Fountains of Cheb.

As we wandered around Cheb we came across several interesting fountains. The first just off the main square was of a piper. On the main square there was a fountain of the Knight Roland. These are found all over Germany. Also on the main square we found the savage man fountain and then we found a fourth fountain on our way to Cheb Castle.

Savage man fountain. - Cheb

Savage man fountain. - Cheb

Fountain on route to castle. - Cheb

Fountain on route to castle. - Cheb

The Piper. - Cheb

The Piper. - Cheb

The Knight Roland fountain. - Cheb

The Knight Roland fountain. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne.

After we had wandered around Cheb we went to Frantskovy Lazne a nearby spa town. The springs in Frantiskovy Lazne were known from the fifteenth century. This is an attractive place with lots of lovely buildings, statues, fountains and colonades. Unfortunately it poured down for our entire visit which put a bit of a dampner on the day.

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Frantiskovy Lazne. - Cheb

Posted by irenevt 03:43 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (2)

Znojmo

Czech Republic.

sunny

View over Znojmo. - Znojmo

View over Znojmo. - Znojmo

Daytrip to Znojmo.

Znojmo is a wonderfully picturesque town in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic. It is not far from the Austrian border. Znojmo has lovely churches, a castle, town squares and fountains. It is set on a hillside sloping down to the Dyje River.

I did research Znojmo before our trip, honest, but for some reason I was convinced the Czech Republic used the Euro. I was sadly wrong; they still use the Czech crown. We were there on a Saturday afternoon. All banks and money changers (of which there were not many) were shut. Oh dear. Don't know if any restaurants would have accepted Euros. We just did not spend anything. Shame there were great looking restaurants. Znojmo was a lovely sleepy town with great view points with views towards churches, the castle and rotunda and the Dyje River

Wolf Tower And City Walls.

When we walked into the centre of the old town from the train station the first sight we came to was Wolf Tower and a stretch of city walls. It is worth having a quick look around this area if you are in Znojmo.

Wolf Tower And City Walls.

Wolf Tower And City Walls.

Znojmo's Castle And St Catherine's Rotunda.

We could not go in to either building as we had no Czech money. There is an entrance way to the castle next to the brewery. You will go into a little building with tourist info. No need to pay here, pass through and go down the stairs. There are great views, a cafe, birds of prey and the kasse to buy tickets for the castle and rotunda. We only saw the castle from the outside not very castle like, more like a big house and under renovation. The rotunda is quite cute from the outside and supposedly has great frescoes inside. From this area there were great views over the river and towards Saint Nicholas's Church and Saint Wenceslas's Chapel.

Znojmo's Castle And St Catherine's Rotunda

Znojmo's Castle And St Catherine's Rotunda

Znojmo's Castle And St Catherine's Rotunda

Znojmo's Castle And St Catherine's Rotunda

Main Square

Near Wolf's Tower there is a big open square containing a church, sometimes, if you are there on the right day, a market, a fountain, a plague column and some restaurants. You can see the town hall tower in the distance from here.

Main Square

Main Square

St Nicholas's Church And St Wenceslas's Chapel.

Saint Nicholas's Church dates back to around 1100. St Nicholas is the patron saint of merchants. It was free to enter the church. It was quiet and peaceful inside. St Wenceslas's Chapel had an exhibition inside and a viewpoint outside.

St Nicholas's Church And St Wenceslas's Chapel

St Nicholas's Church And St Wenceslas's Chapel

St Nicholas's Church And St Wenceslas's Chapel

St Nicholas's Church And St Wenceslas's Chapel

Walk Down To The River.

There is a lovely walk from the churches down to the river past vineyards and crosses. There are good views from this area. Plus it is just an interesting and attractive area to have a stroll in. If you visit Znojmo, why not take a look?

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Walk Down To The River.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Znojmo's old town is wonderful just to wander aimlessly around in. You will wander through many lovely colourful streets. You will walk past cafes, fountains, statues and several very lovely old churches.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Wander Aimlessly Round The Old Town.

Lovely inn sign. - Znojmo

Lovely inn sign. - Znojmo

Lovely painted building. - Znojmo

Lovely painted building. - Znojmo

Hostan Beer

Hostan Beer

Getting to Znojmo.

We got to Znojmo by train from Vienna. We paid 16 Euros per person for a return ticket (you must return within four days on this ticket). We boarded the train at Wien Mitte Station, but the train started from Wien Meidling Station. The journey took 1 hour 33 minutes from Wien Mitte Station. It was comfortable and the train was fairly empty and very clean.

Train To Znojmo

Train To Znojmo

Posted by irenevt 22:42 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 3 of 3) Page [1]