WWII left many scars, scars set deep in landscapes and the human soul. Prague suffered both, but Hitler never bombed the city instead he and the Nazi’s chose to save the buildings and ravage it’s people. Today Prague stands tall and proud like a gem that shines brilliantly with its most famous site the Astronomical Clock. Built in 1490 this clock located in the center of town on the walls of City Hall offers a whimsical show of wooded figures presenting themselves every hour through wooden doors starting with a skeleton ringing a bell and ending with a rooster crowing before it welcomes in the new hour with a delightful chime. Arrive early, as crowds pack the square and if you’re not in just the right spot, you’ll not see anything. My advice, go up into the tower and enjoy the 360 degree view, but really once is enough.
We stayed at the Residence Agnes a historical building, with concierge services and transport with private limousines. Just a short walk into the old town square, but far enough away for a good night’s sleep. Like we do in every city, we get out and walk. Our timing was perfect for this this trip, it was Easter week and the entire square was dressed in all its finery packed with vendors selling home made pies, cakes and my favorite, Trdelník a sweet pastry made from rolled dough wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. I had a few, (per day) which is probably the reason my dry cleaner was blamed for shrinking the waist size on my trousers. But who cares, you’re on holiday, relax, enjoy and deny yourself nothing!
Prague is the perfect city to do just that. My best guess is that if you’re like us and prefer to walk the streets of Prague (and you will) you’ll probably walk approximately 20-40 miles just seeing the local sites. Prague has some of the best Architecture in Europe, from Gothic, to Baroque and the use of marble in the streets and the bright pastels use on the exterior of the centuries old buildings, it’s just beautiful. No matter where you look, the scenery is much like that of a romance novel. There is a very modern part of the city, but we never saw it. For us the old town had everything we were looking for. As far as I am concerned modern is too harsh and lacks character.
Instead, we preferred walking across the Charles Bridge with it’s patron saints on either side made of stone blackened with time and weather where the faithful still pass by placing their hands on the saint that will bring them financial luck or cure an ailment. The best time to see this bridge and the view it allows is very early in the morning and at dusk. The Prague Castle (the largest in the world) and is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic can be seen from just about anywhere in the city along with the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral. We’ve seen plenty changing of the guards, but here they have the military playing their trumpets from balcony windows above the crowds while soldiers march in the streets below. Again, once is enough. Walk around the back side of the palace and down through the narrow cobblestone streets and explore the shops and sights. It’s a great city and this is the perfect side of town. A small canal with quaint little homes on either side and steeples that just seem to appear out of nowhere through the trees.
I won’t spend much time here as I found it emotional and quite moving, but with all its grandeur, amazing sites and the friendliest of people, we are always moved by stories of humanity. Prague was another victim of the Nazi’s and Hitler’s craziness. Homosexuals, the mentally ill and Jews and anyone deemed unfit were ridiculed, tortured and slaughtered. The names of some of the victims rest on the walls of the old synagogue in the Jewish quarter, some as young as 3 years old. It is not known how many were homosexuals as many were closeted so we’ll never know that number, but the fact remains Prague had 60,000 Jews before WWII now there are less than 1,000. You can visit the Old Jewish Cemetery in the former Jewish “Ghetto” where until the 18th century Jews were separated from the general population. This very small cemetery holds 10,000 bodies buried beneath stones that are seemingly piled atop one another. Prague steeped in history and inviting possibilities. Will I return? Absolutely.
Prague: Getting there: American Airlines San Diego to Los Angeles American Airlines from Los Angeles to London British Airways from London to Prague Total flying time……………….. 20 hours. (But you really don’t want to know that)