Prague (Praha), Czech Republic
Prague is the capitol of the Czech Republic, also formerly of Czechoslovakia before it split into two countries. Czech is another one of those eastern block countries where you can't understand a single word, and if you saw it, you wouldn't be able to pronounce anything. But again, most people there speak English or German, so it was pretty easy to communicate.
Prague is one of the prettiest cities in the world. There are gothic and baroque buildings everywhere, lots of history and culture, and the Czech people are proud of their heritage. It's one of those types of places where you can really enjoy being immersed in a different world. The other cool thing is that everything is cheap! The Czech currency Koruna (pronounced "crowns") is worth about 1/35 of a US$, and eating a normal meal would cost around 75 Kr.
The town of Prague is laid out very much like Budapest. The Vltava River runs through the center of town and divides it into a hilly west bank and flat east bank. The Prague Castle and St. Vitus Church sit on top of a hill on the west, and the shopping districts are on the east side. Spanning the Vltava are several bridges, one of which, the Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), is the most famous landmark in town. It's named after King Charles IV, who is Czech's most beloved king.
The national museum (Národní Muzeum) sits at one end of a big wide boulevard (Václavské námêsti) much like the Champs Elysée in Paris. Nice green and gold trim line the building, making it look rich and ornate.
This building (chrám Matky bozí pred Týnem, now that's a mouthful!) is in the Old Town Square (Staromêstské Námêstí). It used to be a toll house or something like that.
The astrological clock in the Old Town Square. It has the symbols of the zodiac on the small ring in the upper clock, the numbers around the outside tell which day of the month. The clock also has a mechanical puppet show on the hour, much like the famous Glockenspiel in Munich, but not as elaborate.
The singing fountain in the Royal Garden (Královská Zahrada), part of the castle grounds. Supposedly if you put your ear up to the fountain, you'll hear the water drops play a song. I didn't hear the song, but the echo of the water drops in the bronze fountain did sound very soothing.
A shot of the back of St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála sv. Víta). This is the most gothic looking church I've ever seen. There are about 100 spires on the church. It looks really old, but the church was begun in 13xx and only finished in 1929. Pretty impressive nevertheless. This church is the centerpiece of the Prague castle where the seat of the government is located.
Inside the church.
The main altar in the church.
Back in the Old Town Square. The town hall is a richly decorated baroque style building with pastels and florals.
Charles standing in front of King Charles' statue. He's pretty cool looking huh? And the statue's not bad either! hehehe
This was taken inside the Chapel of Mirrors (Klementinum), a small church with richly decorated interior. Frescos and 12th-century mirrors line the ceiling and the columns in the church. Every night, churches like this around town host classical concerts. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the concerts in this church. A trio played everything from Mozart, to Beethoven, to the local favorite Dvorák.
A panoramic shot of the Prague Castle (Prazský Hrad) with St. Vitus in the middle and the royal gardens behind it.
Looking down on the town of Prague. Vltava River runs through it and Charles Bridge in the center of the photo.
Prague has a tower (Petrínská Rozhledna) at the top of the hill on the west bank. That's where I got the panoramic shots.
Prague is home to some huge parks, about 20 square miles at least. Here I am coming down from the tower through a nice shady park.
Standing on one of the islands (Strelecký Ostrov) in the river with the Charles Bridge behind me. This island was pretty cool. It has a park where they hold outdoor concerts, and it's the home of one of many youth hostels in town.
Charles standing on the Charles Bridge. Man, this place is packed with tourists! Cool statues line the sides of the bridge every few feet. As a matter of fact, there's one sprouting from my head. That's the last time I'll trust a stranger to take my photo!
One more shot of the Old Town Square with the toll house, the town hall, and the astrological clock.