Today started a little rough, but I made it out the door and down to the Old Towne square in time for my tour. Unfortunately, my tour never showed up. Thankfully, there were several other tours going so I picked one at random and away we went. This one was nice as there were only four people in the tour including myself and the tour guide was a Prague native who was very enthusiastic, if a bit scattered at times.
We set off after watching the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square ring in the hour. The pictures are the clock and the various figures. I’d taken video of the event, but it didn’t come out, so you don’t get to see it. After that, we headed up the hill to the Prague Palace, the oldest working palace in Europe. When we got up to the top though, I came to a realization – what I’d been taking pictures of, thinking it was the palace, was not. Sure the Palace was up there, but the big impressive thing, I should have known, was the Cathedral of St. Vitus. And it is impressive! Even more than the architecture and stained glass and all that, it’s impressive because it houses the remains of five different saints, including St Vitus. St Wenceslas is also there, as are three others. We got the story of St. John of something who was a priest and refused to give up the queen’s confession to the king so the king had him thrown from the Charles Bridge. Before he hit the water, though, five stars encircled his head and he was whisked up top heaven. Now, there’s a statue of him on the Charles Bridge and you can rub one side of it and make a wish and if you don’t tell anyone what the wish is, it will come true. Yes, that’s me rubbing and no, I won’t tell you what I wished for. (I did take a picture of the wishing plaque by itself so if you want to wish and rub the computer screen, I won’t say anything and neither will St. John).
Oh yeah, as you enter the palace, there are two guards standing sentry on either side of the gate. Like the British ones in front of Buckingham Palace, these guys aren’t allowed to smile or talk or move or anything. They do this for an hour at a time. Every hour, though, there is the changing of the guard.
Saw a few more sites, heard about some more churches, then headed down to the Jewish Quarter… the original ghetto. Got the background on Jews in Prague, found out the six synagogues which remain in the old Jewish Quarter are now all part of the Jewish museum, which is the most visited museum in Prague and got the story about Rabbi Loew, who created the Golem to protect the Jews of Prague and is buried here in one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe.
After our tour ended, Tracy, a south African living in Edinburgh, and I grabbed a bite to eat then headed off to the Museum of Instruments of Torture! Three floors of racks, manacles, spikes and chastity belts was pretty interesting. We both decided we didn’t understand how human beings could actually come up with this stuff. But then again, a lot of the commentary mentioned these instruments were used in Germany so really, in World War II, they were just refining what they had been doing for centuries. Sadly, they didn’t allow photographs – and with that many torture devices around, I wasn’t going to risk it.
As we headed back to the Old Town Square, we stopped in a shop I had been in last night. I bought more art. I know! But it’s cool art. Need to find frames when I get back.
Tomorrow there’s a couple of people from the hostel and me and Tracy and we’re all gonna take a day trip to see a church made out of human bones. After that, I might do the night time ghost tour.
Hope you’re all having fun without me. I miss each and every one of you reading this. Some of you more than others. And yes, that means you.