A Mix of Everything: A Royal Palace, A Convent, and A Museum

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We started off the day with a tour of the Royal Palace. If you see the flag flying it means that the president is within the borders of the country. From here we visited the royal art galleries that have since seen many changes as the art has been moved throughout the centuries, either through gifts or where the seat of power was.

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From here we visited the interior of the cathedral. I have thought a lot about how to order these photos and at last have decided to leave them in the order in which they were taken. In this sense you can follow our movements throughout St. Vitus Cathedral. Construction started under the reign of Charles IV, who envisioned a Gothic Cathedral. However, it was never finished and lay incomplete for centuries. In the later half of the 19th century, the Union for the Completion of the Building of the Cathedral began to re-build that which had gone to ruin and to complete the structure in a Neo-Gothic style.

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Interestingly this cannon ball is supposed to be here. I cannot remember the specifics from the audio guide tour other than it was placed here as an ex-voto gift. I have attempted to resolve the issue on google, but have come up empty handed. If anyone can help, I would appreciate the proper explanation.

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This silver sculpture was erected to honor the tomb of John Nepomuk. It is one of the largest pieces made out of precious metal still standing.

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One of the more beautiful parts of the Cathedral is the chapel dedicated to Saint Wenceslas, whom as we have discussed is the patron saint of the city and country. This ornate room is also said to house the remains of the saint.

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Upon exiting the cathedral we continued on our journey. Here is you look at the large bell tower you will see two clocks. Why would there be two clocks?

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The answer is that you need one to tell the hour and the other to tell the minutes.

You are not allowed to take any photos of the interior of the Old Royal Palace. We did not visit any of the rooms where the royal inhabitants lived, but rather the functional spaces where galas were held and official business was conducted. The picture below is taken from the balcony and shows the second story window where three men were defenestrated. If you hear the account from the Spaniards, these men were cloaked by an angel and able to escape unharmed. From the Protestant perspective they fell into manure which prevented any serious injury. Either way, it serves as a critical point of showing the crisis of faith in the city. IMG_3689

Personally, I loved the vaulting of Vladislav Hall where the walls seemed to come alive. It is known as the largest secularly vaulted room, and held many balls, galas, dinners, and even in times of bad weather, jousting tournaments. There is a special ramp made to accommodate the horses’ entry into the hall.

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(This photo is credit of Wikipedia).

I also really enjoyed the New Land Rolls room, where the ceilings were covered in images of the coats of arms of the officials working within the department. Many times I read about such rooms, especially reading their written reports, but on general tours do not have access to such places within the palace.

After visiting the Old Royal Palace we visited St. George’s Basilica. It is the oldest surviving church building within the castle complex being founded in 920 by Vratislaus I of Bohemia. It is connected to a convent, whose abbess has the right to crown the Bohemian Queen. It has undergone changes and most recently was stripped of all “modern” adornment to better represent the romanesque church that was originally founded. I place “modern” in quotes because my understanding is that they focused on restoring what was present during the 12th century and that all after that was considered modern.

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We took a nice stroll down the “Golden Lane”. The buildings are reminiscent of the 15th century. Each one of the 11 historic houses has been outfitted with period scenes to evoke what life would have been like for the non-royal residents within the castle walls.

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We finished our tour of the complex with the Rosenberg Palace. This was the home of noble women of Prague and the surrounding countryside. During the times of Maria Theresa, the family palace was transformed into the Institute of Noblewomen, where women of noble lineage (at least four generations) could live in the house. Currently, they display different artifacts to give an idea as to how these women lived within the building.

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The Palffy restaurant is known for good food, and its ability to take you back in time. We wound through the streets, passing by many of the embassies before finding the restaurant. On it’s website it boasts of being a perfect place for proposals and wedding receptions, and true to its statement, one small reception was being held on terrace next to us. The food was absolutely delicious, which started with roasted garlic heads and bread for appetizers.  The rest of the meal did not disappoint.

From here we attempted to see St. Agnes’ Convent, but we were not in time to visit the upstairs Museum of Medieval Art and just enjoyed walking around the bare halls. Of course, I was quite at home being in a convent, but would visit again with my Dad to see all of the art. IMG_3704 IMG_3705 IMG_3706 IMG_3707 IMG_3708

The last stop of the day was the Museum of Communism, which thankfully is open incredibly late and therefore we could visit without any issues. The Museum, as much as anything, displays different posters and goods offered throughout the Communist Regime. Our heads still full of the Alexandra’s stories, the Museum came alive. There was also a short documentary to watch that showed the marches on St. Wenceslaus Square further exemplifying what life was like in Prague under Communist control.

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Above is an imprint of the peace hands that was used to create the commemorative plaque earlier mentioned.  This tour concluded our action packed day and we grabbed delicious street food on our way back to our apartment!!

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