(Been back in the US for a few days, but have been struggling with allergies and jet-lag, so just now catching up on the photos from the Prague visit.)
After several days in Prague we decided to start tackling the castle. While you can freely roam the castle grounds without paying, there are a couple of ticket options to see some of the sights of the castle compound itself. Thankfully all tickets are good for two days, so you can split up your sightseeing. We decided to see St Vitus Cathedral first, on a Friday afternoon. That turned out to be a wise decision. In contrast to St Nicholas which we’d seen earlier in the week, St Vitus is primarily from the High Gothic period of architecture. (Although the cathedral wasn’t really complete until the early 1920’s, I believe.) High Gothic is one of my favorite periods of cathedral architecture (along with Romanesque), so I was excited about this visit.
(A reminder that you can view a larger version of any photo by clicking on it.)
Anyway, moving on to the castle. The single best piece of advice I read in the guides was to take the #22 tram up to the Hrad (Castle) stop and walk down to the castle from there. Then after hours of castle viewing you can enjoy the stroll down from the castle grounds to Mala Strana. Downhill = good. We were doing plenty of walking, so I didn’t feel the need to exert myself to get up to the castle.
One of the entrances, with the Czech guards. The castle is actually in use by government offices, so there’s a security presence. (Nothing like the US, where you have to have your bags searched and go through metal detectors, though.)
Our first view of St Vitus Cathedral. I have about three photos that I need to stitch into a vertical panorama. This is only about half of the building. The way the castle grounds are constructed, this is as far away as you can get and see the entire front facade. Still, it’s breathtaking.
Taking care of evil.
The ceiling in one of the side chapels. Beautiful! I think I’m just a sucker for lapiz lazuli and gold together.
“Oops, I lost my head.”
Some of the silver in the cathedral. This was about as excessive as it got.
The inside of the Saint Wencelas chapel on the south side. Standing at the western entrance looking up. After seeing the dim, cramped little rooms that people lived in, cathedrals must have seemed like miraculous buildings: so tall and filled with light.
My favorite gargoyle of the cathedral, the creepy monkey. Some of the layers of detail on the exterior of St Vitus. Stunning! The southern facade of the cathedral. The main entrance to the castle grounds. Behave or you’ll get it. We decided to take one of the routes down to Mala Strana, from which we’d catch the metro home. This is why you start from the top and work your way down. There were plenty of people going up. Breathlessly.About half way down we were arrested by this wonderful smell of pastry and sugar. As it was well past snack o’clock (and we were both thoroughly chilled by the wind) we stopped for hot chocolate and trdelnik. It’s a dough that shaped onto a hollow metal tube and baked, then rolled in cinnamon sugar. So tasty. This is how much Cloyce liked it.
The baker could barely keep up with the demand; the shop was definitely in a good location.
Further down we spotted this statue of Winston Churchill. We thought it strange to put a statue in the middle of Mala Strana, but then realized that we were just down a lane from the British Embassy. (All of the choice former palaces were snapped up as embassies.) And this lovely architectural detail, spotted on just another building in Mala Strana. It was one floor up off a busy road, so I doubt many people actually stopped to notice it. Lovely.
We had gotten a late start that day and had spent several hours in the cathedral, so that was it for our sightseeing that day. We joked that we could see a lot more if we didn’t spend so much time looking at things. We’d see some people cruise through the cathedral in 15 minutes. I guess that counts as having “seen” it, but….
Anyway, more castle grounds to come on Day 5.