October 17, 2004

Touring the Czech Republic, June-July 2004

Prague

Prague is a fairy tale city.

This is not Disney Land; this is the real thing!

The Vltava River runs through Prague.

We had beautiful summer weather in Prague, but the air pollution really shows in the pictures.

Our pension was above the city near Prague Castle, and we walked by the forested grounds of the monastery on our way down into the main part of the city.

The Strahov Monastery.

Kelly enjoying the views.

Coat of arms.

The Old Town Hall's Astronomical Clock, built in 1410. It marks the phases of the moon, the equinoxes, the seasons, the days, and Christian holidays.

Every hour, the clock plays a medieval morality play where figures parade out of the little doors and the skeletal figure of Death rings a bell.

The crowd watching the clock's play.

The Matrixcow.

Old Town Square with its lovely colorful buildings.

Fresco near the Old Town Square. Vaclav Havel's family owned this theater until the Communist Revolution.

The guards at the castle entrance.

Changing of the guard.

Inside Prague Castle.

A beautiful building in the castle complex.

Above door of St. Vitus Cathedral within the castle complex.

Inside the cathedral.

The cathedral's ceiling.

Stained glass window in the cathedral.

More views inside the cathedral.

Another view of the cathedral ceiling.

Wooden mural depicting Prague.

The cathedral spire.

Finely decorated church below the castle on the western side.

Inside the castle, this chamber once hosted the Bohemian government's cabinet meetings.

Behind glass and in low light, and therefore hard to see in this photo, the National Museum has a copy of Bedrich Smetana's score for "The Moldau," written in Smetana's hand.

A Moravec grave that we stubbled upon.

Winston Churchill! (Outside the British embassy, of course.)


Driving from Prague to Česky Krumlov via Orlílk Castle

This is a dam we saw on the way to Česky Krumlov. We were completely lost in a hilly forest, but it was worth it to see this Vltava dam. We were confused and followed signs to Orlílk Dam, which unfortunately is not close to Orlílk Castle.

We made it to Orlílk Castle! First built in the 13th century but rebuilt after many fires.

It was mainly used for a hunting lodge. For English-speaking visitors, the tour guide handed out a written translation of the Czech tour. The English text called the place a "haunting lodge." The Schwarzenbergs were a strange family indeed.


Kratochvíle

Kratochvíle is a charming Renaissance chateau in Bohemia. It was constructed between 1583 and 1589 by Italian architects, commissioned by the last generation of Rožmberks.

The literal meaning of kratochvíle is to while away the time.

The attention to detail is still clearly visible in the exquisite stucco work and painted vaults.

Strangely enough, the chateau is mostly taken over by the Museum of Animated Film, including some of Josef Lada's drawings of the Good Soldier Švejk (based on a book Kelly read while in the Czech Republic). The English translation of the Museum guide included these gems: "These puppets move thanks to the limbs installed in their bodies" and "Of course this dragged people to visit."


Česky Krumlov

The beautiful town of Česky Krumlov is a living gallery of Renaissance-era buildings.

In 1992, UNESCO named it a world heritage site for its historic importance and physical beauty.

The church site is very old and has been built upon many times. It is located in a key observation point.

The second-largest castle in Bohemia (after Prague Castle), Česky Krumlov Chateau was constructed in the 13th century as part of a private estate. The tower, with its Renaissance balcony, is from the 12th century. The grounds of the chateau also include a lower castle, upper castle, and large gardens.

The chateau has been owned by many families, including the Rožmberks and the Schwarzenbergs.

View from the tower. The morning light was perfect.

View from the tower. The height was exhilarating.

On many Czech bridges, statues of sainst (this one the Virgin Mary) have haloes of 12 stars, just like the European Union flag. Christian symbols were everywhere in the Czech Republic.

In the chateau's courtyards, the frescos were stunning.

The connecting courtyards of the chateau.

Painted bricks in the courtyard of the chateau.

One of the two castle brown bears.

Connecting bridge of the chateau.

Ceiling in a veranda on the grounds of the estate.

The Vltava River snakes through the town.

Wars, from the Hundred Years' War in the 14th century to WWII in the 20th, passed over the town, allowing its buildings to survive almost untouched into the modern era. Krumlov slept during the Communist era, when it was inside a restricted zone even Czechs could not visit without a military permit, so the town is magnificently preserved.

The Czech Republic proudly displayed the European Union flag (we visited just two months after accession).

Our Pension's kitty.

One of the original town gates.

Kelly and Scott enjoy the views of Česky Krumlov.

Bridge into the main part of town.

Restaurant over the river. We canoed down the river in a plastic yellow "canoe." Passing kayakers yelled, "Ahoy, banana boat!"

Pretty window in town. The building is painted a typical light green.

These swallows delighted us each time we passed their nests right around the corner from the town square.

The banquet hall where we had the best dinner of our trip. It was truly a medieval feast including warm mead! Our server was a very Bohemian American.

The lovely tower again.

Posted by R. Scott Rogers at October 17, 2004 05:03 PM