Theme: European Christmas Holiday Country: Czech Republic Languages: Czech Unit of Currency: Czech koruna Locations: Prague Year: 2011 Bucket list: Learning about Czech Republic’s history
DO: UNEARTH THE HISTORY OF CZECH REPUBLIC
- Attending a memorial of Václav Havel, Czech’s first president
- Taking a boat ride on Vltava River
- Strolling the city to find Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
The Haunted Tales in Prague, Czech Republic:
1) Old Town Square was definitely one of Prague’s energetic hubs. With the figures on the Orloj and a 600 year old astronomical clock overlooking the city; the locals and around the world visitors flocked to this area, which was once the haunted neighborhood of Franz Kafka. The day in Prague turned out to be sunny and a photographer’s perfect dream- the bright café umbrellas, busking musicians, and legions of tourists watching the hourly process of apostles and allegorical figures on the Orloj.
2) As I have explored various parts of Europe, I have always been eager to view astonishing landmarks and illuminated castles in each mysterious and new destination. The religious and political symbol of might and glory was well represented by Prague’s Castle District. High atop the hilly west bank of this “Golden City” was one of the most beautiful sights in Europe- the Prague Castle perched above the curving Vitava River and flowed below it with the Gothic masterpiece of St. Vitus Cathedral soaring behind it.
A little more background about this beautiful cityscape – Prague Castle is a monumental forestress-like collection of buildings and courtyards spanning the millennium from the 10th to the 20th centuries. One of the more spectacular moments during my visit to the Prague Castle was when the Christmas tree was symmetrically lit in front of this display.
3) The ferry cruise “Old Praha” on the Vltava River, was full of reflections and numerous opportunities for photography captions. The sun decided to grace the river with its presence, meanwhile, the reflections off of the buildings and churches that surrounded the Vitava River sparkled their watery images upon the river. The ferry was full of a mixture of nationalities and visitors yearning to learn more about the mysterious, yet beautiful city of Prague.
4) The Haunting tour, including that of the strange neighborhood of the German speaking Jew Franz Kafka. Legend has it that Prague is a city perpetually haunted by ghosts, whether it is a ghost of a classic fairytale kingdom of medieval castles, tin-covered knights, failed ghosts of communism, the ghosts of saints, and the ghosts of sinners, one element exists in Prague – the ghosts of Prague past collide with the ghosts of Prague present. Within Prague’s narrow, cobblestoned streets and where gothic-meets-baroque Old Town Square, it is evident that there are surreptitious icons hidden in the city’s winding alleys and dark corners.
The ghost stories tell the tale of how the city was once overrun by knights and alchemists – this explored the folklore and the history of Prague, while unwinding the secrets symbolizing that of the mysterious architecture that lurks within the city’s walls. In Kafka’s famous quote, “That narrow circle encompasses my entire life;” he emphasized in his works he represented the grief and humility that the Jews faced. In addition, his quote suggested that he saw a different side of Prague that ghost-seekers come all over the world to further understand his visions through his synagogues that are deeply hidden with Prague’s ancient history.
5) With some eerie ghost stories of Prague, comes a celebration of happiness and prosperity for those within the city, especially around the holidays. The Christmas Markets formed an unearthly performance of light, colors, and scents. Every year Central Square turned into a dramatic and flamboyant stage of hand-made puppets, wooden toys, and children dancing in traditional costumes and visitors who eagerly became part of this magical performance. The Christmas cheer brought an indescribable feeling of positive energy and bliss to those that were introduced this event. A warm shot of Becherovka (traditional spicy liquor), and a bite of Trdelnik (cinnamon sugar pastry) formulated one of the best Christmas experiences that one could imagine.
Next stop: Vienna, Austria!