Christmas Day in Prague


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Europe » Czech Republic » Prague » Old Town
December 25th 2013
Published: December 26th 2013
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After a lazy start this morning (well, it is Christmas Day!) we headed out for another day of exploring Prague. As we walked into Old Town Square the church bells were ringing again. I just love the sound of church bells ringing so I nudged Bernie into action with the Sony camera to record some of the activity in the square to the accompaniment of the church bells.

After standing around in the square for a while, just absorbing the atmosphere, we walked over the river to visit Prague Castle. We've been in town since Saturday, but we are only just getting around to visiting Prague's premier tourist attraction. It has been a case of juggling our sightseeing schedule with the Christmas timetables of the various places that we have wanted to visit. According to some websites the castle was closed yesterday so we decided to make our visit today ... along with just about every other tourist currently in Prague! It was packed.

We purchased a long visit ticket that entitled us to enter eight of the castle buildings (as opposed to the short visit ticket that only covered four buildings). Even with the long visit ticket that didn't include two key buildings, the South Tower of Saint Vitus Cathedral and the Treasury of Saint Vitus Cathedral. Oh well, we decided that we could do without another tower climb today!!

On our ticket we were able to visit St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace (which included the permanent exhibition 'The Story of Prague Castle'😉, St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane including the Daliborka Tower, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, the Powder Tower and Rosenberg Palace. We thought it would be logical to visit the buildings in the order in which they are numbered however, a closer study of the map on the back of our ticket, showed that the numbering was not at all logical and would have us zig zagging allover the site unless we changed our plan.

Our first stop was the Old Royal Palace for an overview of the history of the castle which dates to around 880 when it was founded by Prince Borivoj of the house of Premyslides. The fortunes of the castle and its inhabitants have been through many ups and downs over the centuries since then. It suffered long periods of neglect followed by times of great renovations and expansions when rulers decided to make Prague Castle their main place of residence.

After all of this background we ventured into Saint Vitus's Cathedral. It is the Gothic spires of the cathedral that create the distinctive silhouette of Prague Castle on the city's skyline. On the inside its vaulted ceiling arches high, really high, overhead and its extravagant stained glass windows glow impressively. We took a quick run through the artworks held in the Prague Castle Picture Gallery and the collection of guards uniforms housed in the Powder Tower.

Our next stop was the Basilica of Saint George a much more modest building than the cathedral. When we ventured into Golden Lane it was ridiculously crowded. Golden Lane is an ancient street within the Prague Castle complex that dates from the 15th Century. It comprises 11 very small historic houses that were created when a new outer wall was added to the existing Romanesque castle complex. The houses are decorated inside to depict period scenes that show the life of the artisans who once worked, ate, drank and slept in them. Today there were just too many people to be able to look at this small area properly. Seriously all we could see was wall to wall tourists!

Unfortunately at lunchtime we were a long way away from any street food so we shared a panini in one of the castle cafés before visiting the last building included on our ticket, the Rosenburg Palace. Originally a Renaissance palace of the noble family of Rosenberg, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style and used as a residence for unmarried women from insolvent noble families from 1756 until 1919. Rosenburg Palace also featured an exhibition dedicated to gargoyles. Bernie has a bit of a thing for gargoyles and couldn't remember noticing any on Saint Vitus's Cathedral so we had to go back to look for them! They are there, but they are very high up! My camera has a longer zoom so Bernie commandeered it to photograph some gargoyles.

Back in the Old Town we visited the Swarovski Chrystal shop to see if they had their Golden Retriever figurines at a good price. Bernie ran the price through the currency conversion app on his iPhone and determined that the price was very competitive. We popped out to the ATM to take out some more cash and then returned to make our purchase. I'm sure that Gidget and Finbar will be happy to know that the Swarovski puppy they bought for me will now have a mother!?

Since we shared a panini for lunch we felt that we could fit in a bramborák each. A fresh batch of potato pancakes had just been put on the griddle so we had to wait for them to finish cooking. When the first one was ready it was plated up (if putting takeaway food onto a paper plate can be described as plating up?) and handed over. While she waited for the next potato cake to finish cooking the stall holder asked if I wanted cabbage with mine. Initially I said no, but she looked so disappointed, I agreed to having some sauerkraut added. When Bernie's bramborák came of the griddle he too agreed to having cabbage on top. I'm definitely going to have a go at making these at home.

We spent an hour or so at the apartment letting the bramboráks go down and then popped out for dinner. It's such a hassle getting through the crowds in the Old Town Square that we decided to eat locally again and returned to Mlejnice restaurant. With our flight to Dubai at 1550 tomorrow afternoon it's nearly time to re-pack the bags for the second last time. Our fabulous holiday is drawing to a close.

17,597 steps / 11.98 km




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27th December 2013

experiencing traditions
Visiting at such a traditional time certainly enhances the travel experience! Thanks for sharing the church bells Bernie! I recall how we felt in Athens years ago when we visited during the Easter celebrations. We couldn't believe how long the church bells rang for, even at midnight on Good Fri/Easter Sat. It creates an incredible atmosphere doesn't it. It looks busy despite being winter. It is mild here in Melbourne today. We are still on a rollercoaster of hot then cool weather. But I guess you will redefine what 'cold/cool' means on your return after this adventure! Thinking of you and hope your last phase of the trip continues to bring much enjoyment as we head towards 2014. love Janet
29th December 2013

A very Happy Christmas to both of you.
Love reading your Oh so informative blog. I got quite nostalgic reading about Prague because I was there only 4 years ago and LOVED the Old City. Your photos brought it all back to me so now I MUST locate all my photos and do something with them. Loved the church bells too; soooooo Christmassy. There was a time local churches did that here too; now I think it's only the Cathedrals that 'ring in' the Season with bells. Such a pity. Cheers. Caroline

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