Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Prague, Czech Republic: Part I

Oh Prague... how we love thee! Prague has to be one of the most beautiful cities we've ever seen and is definitely included in our top five places in Europe. The city boasts an assortment of remarkable architecture, ranging from Renaissance, Gothic, and baroque, to neoclassical, cubism, and art nouveau. Looking out over the city we noticed that many spires dot the city in what seem to go on forever. All of these magnificent buildings tell the history of Prague throughout the centuries and made an imprint on us as we visited.

View of the palace from the Charles Bridge.
St. Nicholas Church
One of the many streets with beautiful buildings.
I think the red gives it some pop!

We walked (more like pushed) our way across Prague's famous Charles Bridge. It is a very touristy and crowded spot, and from what I've heard it's like that year round. As we made our way across, dodging other tourists trying to get their pictures and presents from venders, we took notice of the different statues that line the unique bridge.

View from the Charles Bridge
One of the entrances to the Charles Bridge
Statue of John of Nepomuk

You're supposed to rub this for good luck!
View of the Charles Bridge 
We made our way to the Old Town Square where we saw the 500 year old Astronomical Clock and the rest of the Old Town. The streets were filled with sounds of men playing accordions and women singing opera. It's quite a lively place!

Astronomical Clock

Tyn Church
Jan Jus Memorial Statue
Our second day in Prague is what we've termed our "Jewish Day". The Jewish Quarter consists of many historic Jewish buildings and synagogues that have been preserved throughout the years. This includes the Prague Jewish Museum, whose collection only exists because the Nazis gathered objects from 153 Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia in order to plan a "museum of an extinct race". We weren't allowed to take pictures in all but one of the synagogues. The Pinkas Synagogue is a memorial to the Holocaust and its walls are inscribed with the names of 77,297 Czech Jews. Next to this synagogue is the Old Jewish Cemetery, which holds 12,000 visible tombstones with as many as 100,000 people buried there (12 layers deep!) dating back to 1439. The cemetery is full to the brim with tombstones, with some right on top of each other, showing partially erased Hebrew inscriptions.

Rabbi Loew's tombstone (Golem legend)
We saw many more synagogues within the Jewish Quarter of Prague. The Old New Synagogue is the oldest still-functioning synagogue in Europe dating back to 1270. We saw the Klaus Synagogue, which contains many items pertaining to the everyday life and customs of Jews. The Maisel Synagogue exhibits old Jewish items. Finally, the Spanish Synagogue, which was built in 1868, is very ornate with old Moorish architecture. We've never seen a synagogue with decor quite like this one and spent a lot of time gazing up at the intricacies and detail. 

Old New Synagogue

The Spanish Synagogue. Taken from The Jewish Museum
Our last stop was the Jerusalem Synagogue, also known as the Jubilee Synagogue, which was built in 1906. While this isn't located within the Jewish Quarter, we're glad that we spent the extra time finding it. Sandwiched between two buildings, the synagogue is very unique with Moorish influences and a variety of patterns and colors.

The Jerusalem Synagogue

To end our stay in Prague we stopped by the John Lennon wall. After his murder, Lennon became a pacifist hero for many Czechs. An image of him was painted on this wall along with Beatles lyrics and political graffiti. The police tried to paint over the wall numerous times, but it became a focus for the youth of Prague who weren't allowed to listen to Western pop music. After 1989 with the fall of communism in the country, visiting tourists began to make their own contributions. It was only a few years ago that the city gave into the inevitable and "allowed" tourists and locals to leave their mark on the wall. Locals state that it never stays the same for long and you should leave your mark while you can.

Within every light colored spot are hundreds of pen written signatures.
Leaving our mark.
We saw and did so much on our trip to Prague that we found it impossible to put it all in one post. Our next post will talk about the Prague Castle, cathedral, and gardens.  Stay tuned!


  1. LOVE Prague! Great post! Looking forward to the next one!

  2. OMG! What an absolutely amazing city! After reading this blog and seeing the beautiful pictures, you were so right when you described this city as one of the most gorgeous places you and Jon have visited in Europe! You both have been to many new places, and you have loved each and every one of them in a different way, but I have to say that when you came back from this trip, your enthusiasm and excitement was so wonderful and I knew that after talking to you about it, that this was certainly a very special place and a city that you and Jon would be going back to and a city that I hope Dad and I could visit in the near future. The architecture is unbelievable! Each building has there own personality and I can definitely relate to this since I learned all about different types of architecture in my Art History class. (I love the clock! "Meet me at the astronomical clock tower!" (HaHa!) It was wonderful to see how beautiful the Jewish Quarter is. The Jerusalem Synagogue is exquisite! And I found it fascinating that there is a John Lennon Wall! Very interesting and so cool! (I love that you and Jon signed it!) And I love the building with the red roof! I'm so happy that you and Jon got to visit Prague and I know that you will definitely be going back to there again! I could go on and on and on......but for now I'll wait to read Part II of your trip to Prague!

  3. Hello, I will be visiting Prague and Poland end of September. Can you recommend a hotel/place that I can stay? Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Andy,
      In Prague we stayed at the Golden Well Hotel. It's a fantastic luxury hotel located on the palace side of the river (right next to the palace). Runs about 270 euros a night. In Krakow we stayed at Cracowdays. It's more like a B&B with 8 rooms - the staff is so friendly and helpful and it's about a 5-10 min. walk to the center. It was about 75 euros a night.
      Hope this helps!