Prague: Beauty, beer and basilicas

Prague: Beauty, beer and basilicas

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-11-29 13:05 Wenseslas squareAs a student of literature, I knew the term Bohemian, which meant having an unconventional taste in music, art or literary pursuits, was associated with the people of Bohemia (Czech Republic). And my desire to visit Prague stemmed from this. On visiting Prague, I was proven wrong. On the way to our hotel from Prague airport, I noticed a large number of apartment blocks reminding one of Soviet rule over the country.  After checking into a hotel, I began exploring the city, beginning with Prague Castle.  Once the seat of Kings of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperors, the castle is the official residence of Czech president. Dating back to 9th century, this magnificent castle was rebuilt many times, as it had been subject to the ravages of fire, wars, and time.The most important building in the castle complex is the St. Vitus Cathedral. This is the biggest church in the country and contains tombs of many Holy Roman Emperors and Bohemian kings. The Chapel of St. Wenceslas in the cathedral contains the relics of the saint. To a side of this chapel is the crown chamber containing the Czech crown jewels.  There are three more churches in the complex, namely St. George’s Basilica, AL James Church and Holy Cross Chapel. The St. George Basilica is the oldest surviving church building in the complex.The complex contains four palaces, Old Royal Palace, Royal Summer Palace, New Royal Palace, and Lobkowiczky Palace. The Vladislav Hall within the complex is noted for its late middle-age architecture and was used for banquets and receptions.A building in Prague CathedralAstronomical clock prague-see top windowView of St Georges bridge  As we were coming out of the castle, we witnessed the ceremony of changing of guards, which reminded us of Buckingham Palace.We then went to the Charles Bridge. Built on Vltava River in 1357, this 620- metre-long bridge meant only for pedestrians connects the old city with the Prague castle. It has three towers, built in Gothic style, thirty statues, and provides magnificent views of the old and the new city.Crossing the bridge, we went to the Old Town Square, which has the Old Town Hall, famous for its Astronomical Clock. The clock’s three components show the position of the sun and the moon. The calendar dial representing the months and the “The Walk of the Apostles”, which is a very interesting sight. There are two windows above the clock and both open on the hour every hour. As they open, the twelve Apostles appear on the windows one after the other and peep outside.The most important monument in Old Town Square is Jan Hus Memorial. This memorial has the statue of reformer Jan Hus who was executed in 1415. The statue was erected to mark the 500th anniversary of his death. In front of the old Town Hall is a Memorial of Martyrs, erected for those beheaded in the Town Square. The Church of St. Nicholas is also located in the Old Town Square and has a number of shops and business establishment all around.The Jewish quarters are located at a walking distance from Town Square. It is believed that Jews settled in Prague in 10th century and prospered over a period to time. The famous writer Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. There are a number of synagogues in this area, the most famous being the Old Synagogue, which was built in 1270 in gothic style. Another well-known synagogue is the 750-year-old Spanish Synagogue, famous for its interiors, and Jewish Cemetery, which is stated to have over 1 lakh graves.As it was dark, we went back to the hotel outside the Walled City Centre. The old city wall had thirteen entrances, each having a tower. The Powder Tower, where explosives were kept, was the most famous. Located close to this tower is Wenceslas Square.Situated in the middle of the town, Wenceslas Square is known for big public gatherings, celebrations and shopping. The foundation of the square was laid in 1348 and the Statue of Wenceslas on horseback is at the head of the Wenceslas Square. At the end of the road is the National Museum, a new renaissance building built in 1880.Prague is well-known as a foodie’s paradise and many tourists do not fail to taste the beer for which Czech Republic is so famous. Bohemia is well-known for its crystalware.Though Prague attracts a number of tourists within Europe, Indian tourists are few and far between.Author:Dr.Guruprasad joined the prestigious Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1976. Before that he worked for a short while in Steel Authority of India as Management Trainee and Canara Bank, Bangalore as Vice Editor of the Bank’s house magazine.During his 35 years of Police Service, Dr.D.V.Guruprasad worked as Superintended of Police of districts, Commissioner of Police, Hubli-Dharwad, Head of State Intelligence, Head of CID, Head of Police Recruitment