Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge that connects the Old Town and Lesser Town (Malá Strana). It was actually called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný Most) during its first several centuries. Its construction was commissioned by Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and began in 1357. In charge of the construction was architect Petr Parléř whose other works include the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic (Czechia), a country located at the heart of Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Germany, Poland and Slovakia. We would arive in Prague coming from Germany.
In the Middle Ages, Prague became the capital of Charles IV's Bohemian Kingdom, with Prague Castle the seat of the empire. And the city has played a pivotal role in the region ever since. The castle, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the largest ancient castle in the world.
Prague's epic history has produced a city full of beauty, of stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque era buildings, and of majestic squares. Even though the weather was a little on the cold side we could not resist the famous Doughnut Ice Cream Cone, a version of the traditional Czech Trdelník.
The House at the Minute
In the Old Town Square sits the lovely Renaissance pearl, The House at the Minute. Covered in ornate Sgraffito decorations depicting Greek mythology as well as references to biblical and Renaissance legends, this house is easily recognizable with such an impressive facade.
The House at the Minute was built at the beginning of the 15th century as a house in the late Gothic style and was supposedly a tobacconist's shop. Sgraffito decorations were created in two phases – before 1600 and before 1615, but they were whitewashed during Baroque modifications.
The house was almost demolished and it's renewal took place only in the 1920s. The Kafka family lived on the second floor of the House at the Minute from 1889 till 1896; it was the childhood home of Franz.
The ancient splendor and beauty of Prague, a city beyond compare, left an impression on my imagination that will never fade.Richard Wagner
The earliest records of a Jewish presence in Prague date from the 10th century. By the 11th century, Christian Crusaders bound for the Holy Land carried out the first of several devastating pogroms suffered by the Jewish community.
By the 13th century, Jews were forced to live within a walled ghetto, where they remained for 600 years, until 1848. Yet, within those walls, a rich culture and community life developed. Important rights of self-administration were granted to the ghetto from its beginnings because the city depended on its Jewish minority for financial services which medieval religious doctrine barred Christians from performing. In many respects, Jews thrived in Prague, coming to number a quarter of the city’s inhabitants and, by the 17th century, emerging as the largest Ashkenazi community in the world.
German was spoken widely among many members of the Prague Jewish community and continued to be taught despite the tensions with the Czech-Jewish nationalists. During the first decades of the 20th Century, German-speaking Jews in Prague produced a large body of internationally acclaimed literature. The most famous of these writers were Franz Kafka, Max Brod, and Franz Werfel. This is the last generation of writers and intellectuals in Prague before the outbreak of World War II.
On March 14, 1939, Slovakia declared independence from Prague and signed the Treaty of Protection with Nazi Germany. The next day, Germany occupied the Czech lands. At the outbreak of World War II, over 92,000 Jews lived in Prague, almost 20 percent of the city’s population. Prague was one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe. At least two-thirds of the Jewish population of Prague perished in the Holocaust.
On the site of the oldest Prague Jewish house of prayer called the "Old School", the Spanish synagogue was built in 1868 in Moorish style by Vojtěch Ignác Ullmann and Josef Niklas. From 1836 to 1845 František Škroup, composer of the Czech national anthem, worked as the organist at the Old School.
Strahov Monastery Library
The library of the Premonstratensian (The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré ) monastery at Strahov is one of the most valuable and best-preserved historical libraries – its collection consists of approximately 200,000 volumes. The oldest part of the library, the Baroque Theological Hall, was established between 1671 and 1674; the main Classicist vaults of the Philosophical Hall date from 1794 and are two storeys tall. Both halls are dominated by ceiling frescoes by Siard Nosecký and Anton Maulbertsch.
The oldest Czech picture featuring a puppet dates from 1590, however, puppetry became part of Czech tradition in the 1700s when Czech puppeteers roamed Central Europe to tell stories and entertain crowds. During the 18th century, Czech marionette-making and puppetry developed into a revered art form. Much care and detail went into the faces of Czech puppets created during this Baroque period, bringing Czech puppetry to new levels of sophistication. Puppets and marionettes were carved from wood and given the most expression-free faces possible. It was up to the puppeteer to infuse life and feeling into the puppet by manipulating the puppet's movement. The performances were based on classical stories such as Faust, Don Giovanni or historical Czech plays. In the eighteenth century, operas were specifically composed for marionettes.
National Technical Museum
In October 2013 the renovation of the National Technical Museum was finally completed representing centuries of ingenious technical development presented in 14 permanent expositions. It was born based upon a publication; "Technical Museum of the Czech Kingdom", written by economist professor Dr. Josef Gruber and published in 1908. This publication was the primary founding document for the beginnings of the museum, and for the history of technical museums in the country as a whole.
The author included a concise history of technical work in the Czech Kingdom and information on similar organizations in central Europe, but the main focus was a consideration on how the new museum should operate, how it should be organized and what sort of program it should propagate. Gruber's brochure is the oldest consistent Czech layout concerning the functioning of the Technical Museum, what direction it should steer in the future and what sort of work it should do. Read More