Prague 2023 (V)

Last day of our beautiful trip to Prague. Really last half day.

March 1st

We get up early to make the most of the day and head for the Jewish quarter.

The first stop is Španělská Synagoga, the Spanish Synagogue. Built in 1868, it is the youngest synagogue in Prague. It was the work of architects Josef Niklas and Jan Bělský.

Its name comes from the spectacular interior decoration inspired by the Alhambra in Granada. It was designed by Antonín Baum and Bedřich Münzberger between 1882 and 1883.

Španělská Synagoga, the Spanish Synagogue

Before going for the entrance to the synagogues, we decided to have a Trdelník for breakfast. Next to the old-new synagogue there was a small place that looked (and smelled) very good. Its name is Trdelník & Coffee and they are kosher. It was a bit more expensive than the previous one but it was much better. It was delicious.

Trdelník & Coffee

Now we went to the Pinkas Synagogue to buy our tickets. You can buy them separately or a voucher for all of them.

Pinkasova Synagoga or Pinkas Synagogue is the second oldest synagogue in Prague. It was built in 1535 in the late Gothic style. Its author was Aron Mešulam Horovic. It was named after his grandson Rabbi Pinkas Horovic.

In the years 1955-60, the Pinkas Synagogue was transformed into a memorial to almost 80,000 Czech and Moravian Jews who became victims of the Shoah. After the Soviet invasion in 1968, the memorial was closed for more than 20 years. It was completely rebuilt and only became accessible in 1995.

Pinkas Synagogue
Pinkas Synagogue

Next to it is Starý židovský hřbitov, the old Jewish cemetery. Founded in the early 15th century, it is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the world. The oldest gravestone dates back to 1439 and the most modern to 1787.

The cemetery was enlarged several times over the centuries, but its area was still insufficient. The deceased were thus buried in the ground in up to ten layers one on top of the other.

Before it gets too late, we head to the Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue.

Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue
Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue

Despite its name, it is the oldest active synagogue in Europe. For 700 years it has been the main synagogue of the Jewish people.

It was built at the end of the 13th century by stonemasons from the royal foundry and was originally called Nová or Velká (New). With the construction of other synagogues at the end of the 16th century it began to be called Old-New.

Legend has it that the foundation stones for its construction were brought by angels from the demolished Temple of Jerusalem. It was on the condition that they would be returned when it was restored.

Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue

According to another legend, the remains of the Golem are kept there. An artificial being created and revived by the great Rabbi Löw to protect the Prague community.

It is one of Prague’s must-sees, pure history of the city and of Judaism. But, frankly, I find it outrageous to pay 220 CZK to enter. Almost 10€, considering that the visit takes very little time.

Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue
Staronová Synagoga, the Old-New Synagogue

From there we made our way to Klausová Synagoga, the Klausen Synagogue, the largest synagogue in Prague.

In the 1570s, a renowned businessman and ghetto benefactor, Mordechai Maisel, decided to build in the area of today’s Klausen Synagogue. It was then a complex of buildings that included a synagogue and a Talmudic school.

The complex was destroyed after the ghetto fire in 1689. In 1694 a new building was completed in the early Baroque style. Two years later a monumental three-storey aron ha-kodesh and the Ark of the Torah were added. This was thanks to the donation of Samuel Oppenheimer, a wealthy and influential personality of the Austrian monarchy.

Klausová Synagoga, the Klausen Synagogue
Klausová Synagoga, the Klausen Synagogue
Klausová Synagoga, the Klausen Synagogue
Klausová Synagoga, the Klausen Synagogue

From here we go to see Maiselova synagoga, the Maisel synagogue. It was built between 1590 and 1592 by the mayor of the Jewish aljama of Prague, Mordejay Maisel. It was badly damaged in a fire in 1689 but was quickly rebuilt.

During World War II, the Nazis used it as a storage facility for artefacts from 153 synagogues in Bohemia and Moravia. They were to use them to open a museum in Prague.

In fact, the Germans kept Prague’s Jewish quarter intact with the intention of turning it into the Great Museum of the extinct race.

Maiselova synagoga, the Maisel synagogue
Maiselova synagoga, the Maisel synagogue

After the visit to the Jewish quarter. We went for a walk to Letenská pláň, Letna Park. It is a huge park in the upper part of the city. It is used for the organisation of occasional cultural events such as ice rinks or circuses.

It offers spectacular views of the city.

Letenská pláň, Letna Park

To get to the park, we cross the Moldova River on the beautiful Čechův most, the Čech Bridge. Built between 1905 and 1908.

Čechův most, the Čech Bridge
Čechův most, the Čech Bridge

We climbed up the million steps to the park, although there are also ramps, but they are much longer than the stairs.

At the bottom is Pražský metronom, Prague’s metronome. A giant metronome that was installed in 1991 on the site of a monument to Joseph Stalin.

Pražský metronom, Prague's metronome
Pražský metronom, Prague’s metronome

Nearby is the Hanavský Pavilon. It is one of the most impressive eclectic buildings in Prague. It was built as a pavilion representing the Komárovský Blast Furnaces for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891.

Today it houses a restaurant with a fantastic view of the city.

Hanavský Pavilon
Hanavský Pavilon

While we were here, two curious things happened to us. We decided to have a coffee while admiring the view. When it was time to pay with a 200 CZK note (the last one we had left) the girl wouldn’t accept it. She told us that it was an old note that stopped working on 31 December 2022. If we wanted to change it, it had to be in a Czech bank.

The banknote was “placed” in a grocery shop on the corner of Letenská Street and U Lužického semináře. It’s a good way to get rid of black money… to give it to tourists.

While we were sipping our coffee, thinking about how to change the ticket, a message began to sound over the loudspeaker throughout the city. A few minutes after it stopped, the bomb siren started to sound. Fortunately they were only testing it.

Anti-bomb siren

We finished our coffee and thought about where to change our banknotes. Then we remembered that there was a change machine in the castle baths. So that’s where we headed for a brisk walk.

Right next to the park is Chotkovy sady, the Chotek gardens. Founded in 1832, it was the first public park in Prague, under the Summer Palace of Queen Anne.

It is a wooded park with more than 55 species of plants. Inside is a monument to the poet Julius Zeyer. It is a cave in which there are sculptures representing characters from his works.

Chotkovy sady, the Chotek gardens
Chotkovy sady, the Chotek gardens

The gardens belong to Letohrádek královny Anny, the Summer Palace of Queen Anne. It is a Renaissance building in the Royal Garden of Prague Castle. It was built between 1538 and 1560 at the eastern end of the Royal Garden. It was a gift from Ferdinand I to his wife Anna Jagiellonian.

Letohrádek královny Anny, the Summer Palace of Queen Anne
Letohrádek královny Anny, the Summer Palace of Queen Anne

The chateau gardens are beautiful and have several remarkable features. These include the Fontána se sochou Herkula or Míčovna v Královské zahradě, the ballroom.

The hall building was built between 1567 and 1569 as a place for ball games. Later it was used as stables and during the reign of Joseph II as a military storehouse.

Today it is mainly used for art exhibitions, concerts and important social events.

Míčovna v Královské zahradě

In front of the building there was a couple having a wedding photo session. Nice place.

Now we are on our way to the change machine.

We arrived, went into the toilet and… BINGO! accepts the 200 CZK note and gives us change in… 10 COINS! It was like a slot machine.

It was time to leave the city. But first we had to eat. We picked up our things from the hotel and headed for the pub where we had eaten so well the day we went to Kutná Hora.

But on the way we had a stop: Jeruzalemmská synagoga, the Jerusalem synagogue. Unfortunately it was closed. But the outside of the building was beautiful.

Jeruzalemmská synagoga, the Jerusalem synagogue
Jeruzalemmská synagoga, the Jerusalem synagogue

We arrived at the pub. The waiters were different from the previous day. We sit down, I take the menu of the day. The waiter arrives, takes it out of my hands and tears it up saying: “menu finish”.

I get up, give him an expletive in Spanish (I’m sure he more or less understands me) and we leave. Twice you don’t laugh in my face.

We end up eating at a chain hamburger joint in the station.

At 2 pm we take the bus to the airport. The ticket is 100 CZK (4.20€). Guess how we paid… right, we loosened the 200 CZK in 10 coins…

At 17.20 the return flight took off on time…

What to do in Prague

Prague 2023 (IV)

We continue our journey through Prague, which is getting closer and closer.

18th February

We get up early and set off in the fresh air. Our first destination is Městská knihovna v Praze, the Prague City Library.

But what we are really looking for is the work of art The Idiom Installation, the Infinite Tower. Hundreds of carefully stacked books assembled by Slovak artist Matej Kren.

It runs from the floor to the ceiling, inside which mirrors have been installed. This creates the illusion of an endless spiral of books.

The Idiom Installation

The tour guides had told us that there are endless queues of up to 2 hours. We went early in the morning and… there was nobody there. We had trouble finding the entrance.

The Idiom Installation
The Idiom Installation

Next to the library is Nová radnice, the New Town Hall. It was built in Art Nouveau style between 1901 and 1908. Since 1945 it has been the seat of the Prague Municipality and its mayor’s office.

On the northwest corner stands Socha Železný rytíř, the statue of the Iron Knight. A curious story is told about this knight.

Socha Železný rytíř

Jáchym Berka was engaged to a girl but had to go to war. After his return it was rumoured that this girl had been unfaithful to him. Because of this, the gentleman married another woman.

The former fell into a deep depression and committed suicide by throwing herself into the Vltava. Her father threw himself from the top of a tower.

Jáchym Berka, in great remorse, took advantage of a drunken night when his wife was drunk to strangle her and then hanged himself in their cellar.

As punishment, his soul is trapped in this statue.

Nová radnice, the New Town Hall
Nová radnice, the New Town Hall

Legend has it that every 100 years, if a woman talks to him for an hour, he will be released from his torment. The last time was in 2009…

In the southwest corner is another sculpture: Rabbi Judah Loew (1520 – 1609).

Rabbi Judah Loew
Rabbi Judah Loew

Known as the “Maharal of Prague” to Jewish scholars, he was a prominent Talmudist, Jewish mystic and philosopher who served as rabbi in the city of Prague.

Rabbi Judah Loew is credited with the creation of the Golem, whose legend stimulated the fantasy of central Europe for several centuries.

The Golem was a colossus made of clay. Animated by kabbalistic combinations of the letters that made up the holy name of God, it came to life and moved, performing all sorts of tasks for Rabbi Loew.

Legend has it that this Golem saved the Jews of Prague from the persecutions and anti-Jewish accusations of the time.

Opposite the town hall is the Klementinum. It is a complex of historic buildings that formerly housed the National, University and Technical Libraries.

After the university and technical libraries were moved to the Městská knihovna building, it now houses only the Prague National Library.

Klementinum
Klementinum

In the 11th century, a small chapel dedicated to St. Clement was located here. In the Middle Ages a Dominican manastery was founded here. It became a Jesuit college in 1556. The Jesuits moved the library of the Charles University to the Klementinum in 1622. In 1654 the college merged with the university.

After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Prague in 1773, Empress Maria Theresa I of Austria established an observatory, library and university at the Klementinum.

At one time the Klementinum was known as the third largest Jesuit college in the world.
The oldest meteorological record in the Czech lands began at the Klementinum in 1775, and continues to this day.

Klementinum
Klementinum

In one of the corridors of the courtyard of the Klementinum is Dívka s vlaštovkou, the Girl with the Paper Plane. It was created in 2005 by Polish sculptor Magdalena Poplawská. It depicts a young woman holding a paper aeroplane.

Dívka s vlaštovkou

We leave the Klementinum and cross the Charles Bridge once again. We head straight to Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana, the most famous baroque church in Prague.

It is the site of a Gothic parish church consecrated in 1283 and dedicated to St. Nicholas. In 1620 it was handed over to the Jesuits who moved the parish to the church of St. Wenceslas.

The old church was demolished and the foundation stone of the new church was laid in 1673. However, the start of construction was delayed until 1703 according to Kryštof Dienzenhofer’s plan.

The church was consecrated in 1752, but its decoration lasted until the 1760s.

Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana
Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana

The church is remarkable not only for its architecture, but also for its decoration. It is mainly due to the frescoes by Jan Lukas Kracker and a fresco inside the 70-metre-high dome by František Xaver Palko.

It is said to be the Sistine Chapel of Prague.

Entry costs 100 CZK (4.27€) and is well worth it. It is spectacular.

Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana
Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas in Malá Strana

Opposite the church is Morový sloup Nejsvĕtĕjší Trojice, the Holy Trinity Column. It was built between 1713 and 1715 to commemorate the end of the plague epidemic.

Morový sloup Nejsvĕtĕjší Trojice, the Holy Trinity Column

As it was freezing cold, we decided to look for a place to have a warm coffee. But without going out of our way. We did so in a very chic café called Nº 211 cafe & wine.

We accompanied our coffees with some sweets that were to die for. When it was time to ask for the bill, it turned out that we were overcharged for a coffee. We told the girl about it and she went ballistic. She gave us back the extra and also gave us a huge biscuit, which we could use as a snack.

Nº 211 cafe & wine

Everything cost us 270 CZK (11.50€).

After warming up we headed to our next destination: Strahovský klášter, the Strahov monastery.

Strahovský klášter, the Strahov monastery
Strahovský klášter, the Strahov monastery

It is a Premonstratensian abbey founded in 1143 by Bishop Jindřich Zdík, Bishop John of Prague, and Duke Ladislaus II.

It was originally a wooden building next to a Romanesque basilica. It caught fire in 1258 and was severely damaged. It was rebuilt on the spot.

In 1420, during the Hussite Wars, the building was sacked but little damage was done to it.

During the communist regime it was taken over by the government and converted into a National Literature Monument. During an archaeological investigation, the original Romanesque style was revealed and the monastery was sensitively reconstructed.

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, the monastery was returned to the Premonstratensian order.

Strahovský klášter, the Strahov monastery

Of particular note in the library are the Baroque Theological Room and the Classicist Philosophical Room. These contain books and manuscripts from the Middle Ages, illustrations and globes.

It also has one of the most important picture galleries in Central Europe.

From here we take a cool walk uphill to Mount Petřín. There are several remarkable features at the top. The most prominent of these is Petřínská rozhledna, the Petrin Tower.

Known as the Eiffel Tower of Prague, it was built as part of the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891. It offers spectacular views of the city of Prague. It is a must-see.

The entrance fee is 220 CZK (9.40€) and on the day we went, the lift was out of order and we had to walk up.

Petřínská rozhledna, the Petrin Tower
Petřínská rozhledna, the Petrin Tower

Here we also find Kaple Božího hrobu, the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre. It was built in 1737, inspired by the one in Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that the window is positioned in such a way that at three o’clock in the afternoon on Easter Day, the sun’s rays fall through it onto the sacrificial stone in the middle of the chapel.

Kaple Božího hrobu, the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre
Kaple Božího hrobu, the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre

Opposite is Katedrální chrám sv. Vavřince, the Church of St. Lawrence. It is a Baroque church built in 1735. The original church dates back to 1135 and was built in the Romanesque style.

The Way of the Cross leads to it on the way to the top of the hill.

Katedrální chrám sv. Vavřince, the Church of St. Lawrence
Katedrální chrám sv. Vavřince, the Church of St. Lawrence
Petrin

At the end of the Stations of the Cross, next to the Church of St. Lawrence, is Kaple Kalvárie, the small Chapel of Calvary.

It was also built in 1735 as the penultimate stop on the Way of the Cross. The unique sgraffito of the Resurrection of Christ, which decorates the front wall of the chapel. It was painted in 1936 by Jaroslav Reidl after a design by the famous Mikoláš Aleš.

Kaple Kalvárie, the small Chapel of Calvary
Kaple Kalvárie, the small Chapel of Calvary

After our visit to Mount Petřín, we set off down to the city. Our first stop was a bakery called Náš Chléb, Vaše pekárna. Mostly because we were struck by the look of the cakes.

Náš Chléb, Vaše pekárna

While we were enjoying our cakes, we made our way to the Loreto, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Prague. The Holy House was built between 1626 and 1631 by the Italian architect Giovanni Orsi. It was financed by Kateřina Benigna, a noblewoman from the Lobkowicz family.

It is a replica of the house where the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (supposedly) took place. The original is located in Loreto (Italy).

Half a century later, it was surrounded by cloisters. The baroque façade dates from the 18th century and was designed by the architects Christoph Dientzenhofer and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.

The carillon was built by the clockmaker Peter Neumann in 1694. It still sounds today and has done so since 15 August 1695.

Loreto
Loreto

From here we went to Kostel Panny Marie Vítězné, the church of St. Mary of Victory. It was built in Baroque style in 1611 and rebuilt by the Carmelite order between 1634 and 1669.

Kostel Panny Marie Vítězné, the church of St. Mary of Victory
Kostel Panny Marie Vítězné, the church of St. Mary of Victory

The church is famous for the statuette of the Infant Jesus of Prague. It originates from Spain and was donated to the Carmelites by Polyxena of Lobkovice (1628).

The Infant Jesus wears 2 crowns and about 46 garments, which, according to custom, are changed 10 times a year according to the season.

statuette of the Infant Jesus of Prague

In the church we can visit a small museum with children’s clothes and other religious articles.

Admission to the church and the museum is free.

Although it was early in the morning, it was getting to be time for lunch. We had lunch at the other place we had eaten the day before, a pub called Ferdinanda. Well, this time WE WERE SCAMMED.

We went in, they sat us down and automatically took the menus of the day off the table and tore it up. We assume they were out of them. We ordered a soup and a plate for each of us. Meanwhile, the Czechs who came in were being served the menu of the day. Ordering à la carte is more expensive, so there is no menu of the day for tourists.

Ferdinanda
Ferdinanda

The truth is that we ate very well and it really wasn’t expensive, 643 CZK (27€) but the menu would have been cheaper. We were left with the feeling that they had laughed in our face. It would not be the last time.

With our stomachs full we went to Nejužší pražská ulička, the narrowest street in Prague. It is about half a metre wide and is regulated by traffic lights. It’s a bit of a tourist attraction, but we had to walk along it.

Nejužší pražská ulička, the narrowest street in Prague

Nearby we find Čůrající postavy, Types Pissing… This is another of David Černý’s sculptures. There are two guys pissing in a fountain depicting the map of the Czech Republic.

When the communist regime fell, the Czechs mistook freedom for licentiousness. It seems that this freedom gave them the right to piss on every corner of the city, with all that that entailed. Bad smells… above all. The fountain is a satire on… WE ARE PISSING ON OUR HOMELAND!

Čůrající postavy, Types Pissing

From here we went for a walk to the Rudolfinum. It is an important concert hall. It was built in neo-Renaissance style between 1876 and 1881. It belongs to and is home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Rudolfinum
Rudolfinum

Before it got later, we went to visit the interior of the Týn Church. We talked about it in the first part of the diary.

It is forbidden to take photos inside the church. I took some of them incognito but I keep them for myself. But I have to say that it is not the most beautiful in Prague by far. But it is free.

After the visit we went for a long walk on our way to the Paratroopers’ Crypt. On the way we passed another of David Černý’s works: Viselec.

It is a sculpture of Sigmun Freud hanging from the roof of a building on Husova Street. It was designed in 1997 to interpret the state of an intellectual at the end of the 20th century.

Sigmun Freud

After walking two kilometres we reach Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády, the Crypt of the Paratroopers.

Officially the National Monument to the Heroes of Heydrich, it is an exhibition located in the crypt of the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius.

During World War II it served as a refuge for a group of Czech paratroopers, who in 1942 successfully eliminated the representative of the Reich Protector, Reinhard Heydrich.

Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády, the Crypt of the Paratroopers

Strolling along, we come to Novoměstská radnice, the new town hall, presided over by its tower.

The tower was completed in 1456 and served as the headquarters of the New Town fire brigade. Later it was used by a guy to announce the time.

It has undergone several restorations until it reached its present appearance dating from 1876. Since 1760, merchants’ merchandise could be officially weighed here to prevent fraud.

Novoměstská radnice, the new town hall
Novoměstská radnice, the new town hall

Today the tower houses an exhibition gallery where short-term exhibitions are held (closed in winter).

On the way to the centre we passed another work by Černý: Franz Kafka – Otočná hlava, Kafka’s Head. It depicts Kafka’s 11-metre high head. It consists of 42 movable parts that move in a variety of ways, representing Kafka’s metamorphosis.

Nearby is another of his works: Embryo. Located in Anenské náměstí, it is a kind of embryonic sack attached to the façade and illuminated from the inside. It was created for the 50th anniversary of the Na zábradlí Theatre.

Embryo

From here we went to warm up with a hot chocolate. We did this at a place I had seen on the internet called Choco Café. It has a lot of varieties and they were to die for. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it. The two chocolates cost us 220 CZK (9.25€), service not included, of course.

Choco Café Praha

After warming up a bit, we return to the cold. We go to the castle again, as we were looking forward to visiting it at night.

It’s a different way of seeing it, with little light and, best of all, practically alone.

Night view of Prague
Night view of Prague

On the way down we were so tired that we didn’t feel like looking for something to eat. We had dinner at the McDonald’s at the Palladium. We went down the Macpiedra quietly in the hotel and went to sleep to get up early again.

What to do in Prague

NEXT ENTRY

Prague 2023 (III): visiting Kutná Hora

We continue our tour of Prague. But this morning it’s time for an excursion. We are going to Kutná Hora, a small town 80 km east of Prague.

February 27th

We get up very early and go to the main train station in Prague.

We arrive at the station around 7.30 and buy our return ticket. It is valid for the next two days. The price is 247 CZK (10.50€).

Billete a Kutná Hora
Ticket to Kutná Hora

We locate our platform and catch the 8.06 train, which leaves on time. We thought they might be like the ones in Romania, in a rather deplorable state. But no, trains in very good condition, more or less like those in Spain.

Train to Kutná Hora

The scenery along the way was quite spectacular, especially the snow-covered countryside.

50 minutes later we arrived at Kutná Hora’s main station, Kutná Hora hl.n. There are two other stations in the city but this is the one with the fastest trains. It is a bit far from the city, but has good bus connections.

But as we were interested in visiting the Sedlec Ossuary first, we went on foot, as it is only a 15-minute walk away. It is only a 15-minute walk away.

A little before, there is the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist, which we will talk about later.

We arrived at the tourist office, very close to the ossuary while it was still snowing.

The girl at the information office was very nice and helpful. We have to say that we were the only tourists there.

There we bought the tourist pass which cost us 320 CZK (13.69€). The pass allows us to enter the Sedlec Ossuary, the Church of the Assumption and the Church of St. Barbara. Separately it would be 420 CZK. It pays off.

After buying the tickets we go in search of something for breakfast. That part of the city seemed to be dead, so we went into a grocery shop. We buy some biscuits and that’s it.

We head for the ossuary as we go along.

Kostnice Sedlec, the Sedlec Ossuary is an underground chapel in the All Saints’ Cemetery. It was originally part of the Cistercian abbey in Sedlec, founded in 1142 by Miroslav of Markvartic. It was the oldest in Bohemia.

The All Saints’ Church was built in the 14th century in the High Gothic style.

Kostnice Sedlec, the Sedlec Ossuary

According to legend, one of the local abbots was sent by the Czech king to Jerusalem around 1278. The abbot brought a handful of soil from Golgotha and scattered it over the cemetery in Sedlec.

The cemetery was considerably expanded during the great epidemics of the 14th century, where 30,000 bodies were buried.

After the abolition of the cemetery at the end of the 15th century, the exhumed bones were stored outside and inside the underground chapel. In 1511 a half-blind monk from Sedlec assembled them into large pyramids.

In 1870, the Schwarzenberg family hired the woodcarver František Rint to put the bones in order. He is the author of the macabre works that can be seen today.

Kostnice Sedlec,Sedlec ossuary

Despite having seen it many times on TV, the ossuary is very impressive. And even more so at the time of our trip, when we were completely alone and there was a sepulchral silence.

According to what I have read, in summer it gets very crowded and uncomfortable.

On the way out, with our hair still standing on end, we set off for the Church of the Assumption.

Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele, or the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist. It is the oldest Cistercian cathedral in Bohemia and dates back to the mid-12th century. This was the period of the greatest expansion of the Cistercian order.

In 1421, during the Hussite Revolt, it was burned and abandoned along with the monastery. Between 1700 and 1708 it was restored first by architect Pavel Ignác Bayer and then by Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl. The latter gave it a Baroque Gothic style.

Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele

Despite its name, it does not have the status of a cathedral.

The church is notable for its large art collection. Highlights include works by Judy Tadeáš Cena, Michael Leopold Willmann and Petr Brandl and sculptures by Matěj Václav Jäckel.

Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele

We stroll around, contemplating the numerous works of art, and go up to the first floor. The stairs on the way up are also remarkable. Designed and built without a central axis by Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl.

Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele

From the top we have a wonderful view of the central nave of the church. We can also go out into a corridor between the façade and the roof. There is a small exhibition on the architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl.

Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele
Katedrála Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Jana Křtitele

We finished our visit and set off for the city centre. To do so, we went to the bus stop right in front of the church.

As it was 10 minutes before it was due to pass, we went into a little shop there to buy some pastries. We waited in the bitter cold, while it was still snowing.

We took bus 381, which cost us 14 CZK (0.60€). Very convenient because you can pay by credit card. It took us about 15 minutes to get to the Žižkov stop, Na Valech.

It was still very cold.

Kutná Hora

We quickly make our way to Chrám svaté Barbory, the church of St. Barbara. This is one of the most famous Gothic churches in Central Europe. Construction began in 1388 to compete with St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

They wanted to demonstrate the power of the city in comparison with the latter. Thanks to its rich silver mines, there was no lack of money for it.

But silver mining ceased. The works were interrupted several times and were finished in 1905. Yes, more than 500 years later. Moreover, its size is half of what was originally planned.

Chrám svaté Barbory, the church of St. Barbara
Chrám svaté Barbory, the church of St. Barbara

Inside we can contemplate the spectacular organ and its medieval frescoes. Also the stained glass windows and all the elements. The truth is that it is a beautiful church.

Chrám svaté Barbory, the church of St. Barbara

At the bottom we climb the 84 steps leading up to the inner terrace, where we enjoy a good view of the central nave. There is also a small exhibition on the construction of the church.

We leave the church and next to it is Kaple Božího těla, the Corpus Christi chapel. It is a small chapel that is… empty. There is nothing inside.

It was originally a Karner, a cemetery with an ossuary. Later it was used as an oratory by the Jesuits. After the abolition of the order in 1773, the chapel passed from hand to hand with different uses. It was used as a warehouse or workshop.

In the middle of the 20th century it was abandoned. In 1990 it was included in the list of the 100 most endangered monuments in the world. Between 1997 and 2000 a demanding reconstruction was carried out, which saved the chapel.

Kaple Božího těla
Kaple Božího těla

Incidentally, admission is completely free. It has a terrace with beautiful views of the city.

Kutná Hora from Kaple Božího těla
Kutná Hora from Kaple Božího těla

Next to the chapel and the cathedral is GASK, the central art gallery of Bohemia. It is housed in a former Jesuit monastery.

Six years after the arrival of the Jesuits in the city (1626), Emperor Ferdinand II issues the charter of the Jesuit College.

With the Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648), its construction was delayed until 1666. It was built in Neo-Baroque style between 1667 and 1750. The design was by the architect Giovanni Domenico Orsi de Orsini.

In 1773 the Jesuit order was abolished and the building was taken over by the army. Since 1998 it has housed the GASK, a modern art gallery.

GASK, the central art gallery of Bohemia
GASK, the central art gallery of Bohemia

We stroll along the Jesuit Walk, a group of thirteen 18th century statues on the viewing terrace in front of the Jesuit College. The 12 original sculptures were made by František Baugut between 1703 and 1716.

In 1740, a statue of St. John of Nepomuk by an unknown artist was installed next to the castle.

We walk along Barborská Street and arrive at the gates of Hrádek, the Kutná Hora Castle. A small wooden fortification once stood on this site. In the 14th century, a fortified manor house was added to it as a mint.

Over the centuries, it passed through several owners, who made various alterations. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was rebuilt as a patrician palace. In the 17th century, Hrádek served as a Jesuit school.

At the beginning of the 20th century, it was bought by the town. In the early 1990s, it underwent extensive restoration. In 1996, after the work was completed, the Czech Silver Museum was opened.

Hrádek
Hrádek

Under the castle there are old silver mines that can be visited. But in February and March they are closed. What bad luck.

We continued along Barborská Street, one of the most touristic streets in Kutná Hora. And we were practically alone. It has its charm but… it doesn’t feel like being in the real world. There is a lack of people.

Barborská
Barborská

On our walk we come to Kamenná kašna, the Stone Fountain. Intense mining activity in the town disrupted the underground water sources. This resulted in a shortage of drinking water. This problem was solved in 1495. It was with the construction of a stone fountain in the form of a dodecagon on today’s Rejsek Square.

It was originally roofed. It served as a water reservoir, to which drinking water was brought through wooden pipes from the spring of St. Adalbert, about 3 km away. It functioned until 1890.

Kamenná kašna
Kamenná kašna

We continue walking through the deserted streets of Kutná Hora. We approach Kostel sv. Jakuba, the church of St. James. This is the oldest stone church in the town. It was begun in 1333 and completed in 1420 in Gothic style.

In 1995 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

On the south façade we have a fantastic viewpoint.

Kutná hora

Next to it is one of the most spectacular buildings in the city: the Vlašský dvůr, the Italian Court.

Originally, it was the seat of the Prague Central Mint. Its name derives from the Italian experts who were at the forefront of minting reform.

For many centuries, the Italian Court was the centre of the state’s economic power. It housed the royal mint and was the residence of the king during his visits to the Kutná Hora silver mines.

The royal mint and the position of the supreme master of the mint came to an end in the 18th century. This was after the great fire of 1770. Then the town hall moved to the Italian court.

To conclude our visit, we went to Morový sloup, the Plague Column. Also known as the Column of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, it is located on Šultysova Street.

It was built between 1713 and 1715 as a commemoration of the contemporary plague that killed more than a thousand people. This Baroque plague column was built by the Jesuit sculptor František Baugut.

It is decorated with different motifs. A statue of the Immaculate Virgin Mary adorns the top of the column. In the central part are statues of Charles Borromeo, St. Sebastian with an arrow through him, St. Roch with a dog at his feet, and Francis Xavier.

Among the statues of saints on the pedestal are reliefs of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, St. Norbert, St. Barbara.

In the lower part of the column there are sculptures of crows with shields, among them there are reliefs of Mary Magdalene, John of Nepomuk and St. Dominic.

The visit to Kutná Hora is over. We take the bus back to Palackého náměstí, the heart of today’s historical centre of the town.

Most of the houses here are originally Gothic and Baroque. Originally, the square was mostly occupied by the town hall. The town hall was destroyed during a fire in 1770.

We take bus 802, which costs us 15 CZK (0.64€), one crown more than the return… but we go further. It drops us at the door of the train station.

We catch the 13.01 train, which arrives a little late, leaving at 13.10. In about 50 minutes we are back in Prague.

Being already a bit late we look for something to eat. We do so in a nearby pub called Ferdinanda. Menu of the day. Exquisite homemade food which cost us 450CZK (19€), two soups, two courses and drink. Gratuity not included. The waiters were very pleasant but, as everywhere in Prague, not in a hurry.

Very good experience which, we would try again, was isolated. We went back twice and had a totally bad experience. But we will comment on that later.

After filling our stomachs, we set off for a place that we had only made a note of if we had time. But I have to say, it is one of the places we liked the most in Prague.

It is Vyšehrad, one of the original towns of Prague. It was the first seat of the Czech princes and the legendary Princess Libusa.

Vyšehrad, which means “castle on high”, is situated on top of a huge rock on the banks of the Moldova River. It was the second castle founded by the Premyslids in the 10th century, having been renovated and enlarged during the following centuries.

Within its walls there are several remarkable elements that we will tell you about below.

After a walk of about 3 km, we reach Cihelná Brána, the Brick Gate. Also known as the New Gate, it is an entrance to the north of the fortification. It was built in the Baroque style between 1835 and 1831 by the engineer Johann Weiss.

Cihelná Brána

We pass through the gate and go to Hřbitov Vyšehrad, the Vyšehrad cemetery. Opened in 1869, it is the resting place of many Czech celebrities. Composers, artists, sculptors, writers, scientists and politicians are buried here.

The truth is that some of the tombs are true works of art.

Hřbitov Vyšehrad

Next to it is Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla, the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. It was founded around 1070 by the Czech King Bratislava II. It was an early Romanesque church that was badly damaged in a fire in 1249.

It was rebuilt first in Gothic style during the reign of Charles IV and later in High Baroque style at the beginning of the 18th century.

The basilica we see today is the result of a reconstruction carried out between 1887 and 1903.

Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla
Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla

But the best part is inside. It is richly decorated with murals by the painter František Urban and his wife Marie Urbanová-Zahradnická. They are inspired by the art of Alfons Mucha.

The truth is that it completely blew us away. I think it is a must-see in Prague. The entrance fee is 130 CZK (5.55€). It’s not cheap but it’s worth it.

Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla
Bazilika svatého Petra a Pavla

We leave the church in awe of the interior of the basilica and take a stroll around the grounds. Next to the church is Vyšehradské sady, the Vyšehrad Gardens.

We climb to the top of the wall to admire the beautiful views.

Prague

From the west side of the wall we can see Libušina lázeň, the ruins of Princess Libuše’s Bath. It was originally a guardhouse from the 15th century. It was part of the fortifications from the time of Charles IV.

The river traffic was monitored from here. The name of the Libuše Bath comes from a legend that says that the princess used to bathe here. She used to receive her lovers here. When she tired of them she would throw them into the river through a sinkhole in the ground or a crack in the rock.

The inhabitants of Prague do not quite agree with this. It is said to be an invention of the Germans who populated the area in the 19th century to discredit Princess Libuše.

Libušina lázeň
Libušina lázeň

As we were tired, we decided to stop for a coffee at a place called Rea Art. We did so at a place called Rea Art. A really delicious coffee and one of the least expensive we have ever had: 70 CZK (3€).

Right next door is the Galerie Lucerna. Located in the Lucerne Palace, it is a roofed shopping street with numerous shops, a concert hall and even cinemas. It was built between 1907 and 1921 and was the idea and work of Vascláv Havel.

Another of David Černý’s works is also of note. It is Kůň (Horse), which depicts St. Wenceslas in the same position as his original statue. The difference is that in this one the horse is dead and hanging upside down.

It is one of his most famous works.

Kůň

The gallery has one of its exits at Václavské náměstí, Wenceslas Square, one of the most important squares in Prague.

It is the commercial and administrative centre of the city, a place of important social and historical events. It is the traditional venue for demonstrations, celebrations and other public gatherings.

Built by King Charles IV with the foundation of the New Town in 1348. This was the second largest square in the city, known as Koňský trh (horse market). It was so named because horse markets were held here periodically in the Middle Ages.

In 1848 it was renamed Svatováclavské náměstí.

Václavské náměstí

On 28 October 1918, Alois Jirásek read the proclamation of Czechoslovak independence in front of the statue of St. Wenceslas.

The Nazis used the square for mass demonstrations.

On 16 January 1969, student Jan Palach committed suicide in the square to protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

In 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, large demonstrations of several thousand people took place here.

At the southeastern end of the square is Pomník svatého Václava, the monument to St. Wenceslas. It is the work of Josef Václav Myslbek and was built between 1887 and 1924. It was unfinished and inaugurated in 1913. It was not until 1924 that the statues of St. Vojtěch and St. Agnes were installed.

Pomník svatého Václava

Behind the statue is the Národní muzeum, the National Museum in Prague. The museum was founded in 1818 under the name of the Patriotic Museum in Bohemia.

Between 1821 and 1846 it was housed in the Šternberský palác, and later in the Palác Sylva-Taroucca between 1846 and 1891.

In 1848 it was renamed the Czech Museum (České muzeum) and from 1854 to 1919 it was renamed the Royal Czech Museum (Muzeum Království českého).

The present building was built between 1885 and 1895 in the Neo-Renaissance style. It was designed by the Czech architect Josef Schulz.

Národní muzeum
Národní muzeum

Across the street to the north is Nová budova Národního muzea, the New National Museum. Another building that is part of the National Museum in Prague. It occupies the former National Assembly building.

The building was constructed between 1936 and 1937 and designed by Jaroslav Rössler to house the Stock Exchange. After its abolition in 1948, it became the National Assembly and then the Federal Assembly.

The National Museum was installed here in 2006.

Nová budova Národního muzea
Nová budova Národního muzea

Right next to it is the Státní opera, the Prague State Opera. The theatre was founded in 1888 as the New German Theatre (Neues deutsches Teather). It was built in neoclassical style by architect Alfonso Wertmüller.

In 1938 the German Theatre Society was dissolved and the theatre was sold to the Czechoslovak state. During the Nazi occupation, it was renamed Deutsches Opernhaus and performed only German plays.

After the war, a group of Czech artists promoted the creation of the 5 May Theatre and it opened in September 1945.

In 1949 it was renamed the Smetana Theatre, with special emphasis on ballet. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the theatre regained its independence from the National Opera and was renamed the State Opera.

Státní opera
Státní opera

And a little further north, on the same avenue, we find the railway station and its old façade. It was inaugurated on 14 December 1871. It was named Františka Josefa in honour of Franz Joseph I of Austria.

Between 1918 and 1939 it was called Wilson Station in honour of US President Woodrow Wilson.

Prague railway station

The beautiful Art Nouveau interior lobby was designed in 1909 by the Czech architect Josef Fanta.

Prague railway station

To get to the lobby, go to the left side of the station as you enter and go up to the first floor, where you will soon find signs.

On our way back to the centre we pass Jindřišská věž, the Jindřich Tower. It is the original bell tower of the church of St. Henry and St. Kunhuta?

It was built in Gothic style between 1472 and 1476. The clock was installed in 1577.

During the Siege of Prague in 1648 it served as a military guard post. It was heavily damaged by Swedish artillery.

During the siege by Prussian troops in 1757 it was further damaged. It was restored between 1876 and 1879 in the Neo-Gothic style by the architect Josef Mocker.

Today, the bell tower is leased to a private company that operates a restaurant, a viewing platform and a carillon.

Jindřišská věž

From here we went to Muzeum Komunismu, the Museum of Communism. A museum dedicated to the communist regime established in Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. It was opened in 2001.

Muzeum Komunismu

Taking advantage of the fact that there was a supermarket in the same building, we went in to get some sweets for a snack. We went with them to the hotel to rest a bit as we were exhausted.

After the rest we went out for a walk looking for something to eat. We went to a place called Restaurant Na Ovocném Trhu. It was a light dinner but it was very good and the service was also good and made good recommendations. The dinner cost us 535 CZK (23€), service not included.

Restaurant Na Ovocném Trhu
Restaurant Na Ovocném Trhu

After dinner we go for a cool walk back to the hotel to rest. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day.

NEXT ENTRY

Prague 2023 (II)

Second day in Prague. We get up early to make the most of the day and are surprised to find that the snow has set. There is not much. Mostly in gardens and on rooftops, but it was going to be a different sight. But we had to hurry because it was not going to last long.

Staroměstské náměstí
Staroměstské náměstí

March 26th

We went out into the street. It’s freezing cold: -3ºc with a wind chill of -9ºc. But it’s worth the spectacle.

We go for a walk back to Charles Bridge. There the views are amazing. Another view of the previous day.

Prague
Mount Petřín
Mount Petřín

We head towards the castle, stopping at every moment to take photos and videos.

prague

As we had not yet had breakfast, we bought a trdelník at a place that had been recommended to us. It is a sweet of Hungarian origin, although it is called Kürtőskalács there, which we tried in Romania. It’s like a kind of rolled pastry that in Romania (read the travel diary here) they used to grill it.

In Prague you can find it everywhere, although it’s made on a gas cooker.

Trdelnik

We climb the 200 steps of Zámecké schody and at the top, more spectacle.

Prague

Now we are going to Prague’s castle, Pražský hrad.

Pražský hrad was built in the 9th century. It was the residence of the Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. Later presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. It houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels.

The last renovation was carried out by architect Jože Plečnik between 1920 and 1934. It was commissioned by the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Masaryk.

There are several noteworthy features within the complex, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The main gate, guarded by Sousoší Souboj Titánů, is striking. This is translated as a statue of Titans Fighting. They are the work of sculptor Ignác František Platzer, who made them between 1761 and 1762.

Pražský hrad
Pražský hrad

We went straight to the entrance to the site, which is free of charge. But to access some of the monuments you have to pay. We pass a strict security check and we are inside.

Pražský hrad

We cross the first gate into a large courtyard, Druhé nádvoří Pražského hradu.

Druhé nádvoří Pražského hradu means Second Courtyard of Prague Castle. In the centre of the courtyard is the Kohlova kašna, the Fountain of Khol. It was made by sculptor Hieronymus Kohl and stonemason Francesco Bartolomeo della Torre in 1686.

Kohlova kašna, the Fountain of Khol
Kohlova kašna, the Fountain of Khol

The square is also home to Kaple svatého Kříže, the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The original chapel was built between 1756 and 1767 by Anselm Martin Lurag. It is built in the Baroque and Clacistic styles.

Between 1852 and 1856 the interior was modified by order of the new Emperor Ferdinand V.

Between 1960 and 1963, the chapel was converted into an exhibition hall for the Treasury of St. Vitus. From 1990 it was used for tourist information. In 2012 it was restored as the exhibition hall of the Treasury of St. Vitus.

Kaple svatého Kříže, the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Kaple svatého Kříže, the Chapel of the Holy Cross

We cross the next gate and come face to face with the spectacular west façade of Katedrála Sv. Víta, the Cathedral of St. Vitus.

The cathedral was built between 1344 and 1420 and is the greatest example of Gothic art in the city. The project was designed by the French architect Matthias of Arras.

A Romanesque rotunda (a temple, not the one for vehicles) and a basilica once stood on this site. Both were dedicated to St. Vitus.

Katedrála Sv. Víta, the Cathedral of St. Vitus
Katedrála Sv. Víta, the Cathedral of St. Vitus

It was the site of the coronation of all the kings of Bohemia. All the holy bishops, archbishops and many kings are also buried here.

The cathedral has been owned by the Czech state since the beginning of its construction.

The west façade is the oldest of the building. It is decorated with statues of fourteen saints, one of King Charles IV and one of his architects.

Opposite the front façade of the cathedral are the ticket offices. This is where we bought our tickets for the cathedral and the castle.

You can choose between different types of tickets. We bought the basic ticket. For 250 CZK (10,50€). It includes the former Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the Golden Alley and the cathedral.

Pražský hrad ticket
Pražský hrad ticket

For an additional 200 CZK (8.40€) it includes two exhibitions: the history of the castle and a photo gallery. Another 150 CZK (6.30€) and you also get a climb up the cathedral tower. If you want the full package you have to fork out 600 CZK (25€), which I think is a real bargain.

We have to say that ticket prices in Prague are really expensive. Much more expensive than in the other countries we have been to. If you want to get into all the sites… save, save a lot.

After buying the entrance ticket, we went to the third courtyard. There you will find Archiv Pražského hradu, the archive of Prague Castle, created in 1920.

Archiv Pražského hradu, the archive of Prague Castle
Archiv Pražského hradu, the archive of Prague Castle

But the most impressive feature of the square is the south façade of the cathedral. Here we find the Golden Door, which owes its name to the red and gold background of the mosaics. It is the work of Niccoletto Semitecolo and depicts the Last Judgement.

Katedrála Sv. Víta, the Cathedral of St. Vitus

This façade was the main entrance for 5 centuries. The entrance to the main tower is also located here. This was built in 1770 by Peter Parler. It is 99 m high and is crowned by a Renaissance dome by Pacassi.

Katedrála Sv. Víta, the Cathedral of St. Vitus

This courtyard is also the site of the socha sv. Jiří s kašnou, the statue of St. George. It was made in bronze in 1373 by the Saxon sculptors Martin and Georg from “Clussenberch” (Cluj-Napoca, in present-day Romania).

The statue was originally placed in Bratislava, Slovakia. Later it travelled to Königgrätz in Bohemia. It finally landed in Prague in 1471.

socha sv. Jiří s kašnou, the statue of St. George
socha sv. Jiří s kašnou, the statue of St. George

This is also the location of Býčí schodiště, the Bull’s Staircase. It connects the Third Courtyard of Prague Castle with the Na Valech Garden. It was designed by the castle architect Josip Plečnik in 1927.

Býčí schodiště, the Bull's Staircase
Býčí schodiště, the Bull’s Staircase

Next to the gate to the Old Royal Palace is Orlí kašna, the Eagle Fountain. It was originally part of the fountain created in 1662 by the sculptor Francesco Caratti. He placed a sculpture of St. George with a dragon on top.

A group of dolphins were placed on the column but were stolen. After the theft, an eagle was placed on the column. It was later replaced by a gilded copper ball with lead nozzles, designed by Josip Plečnik.

Orlí kašna, the Eagle Fountain
Orlí kašna, the Eagle Fountain

Now we enter Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace. The original residential building was built at Prague Castle as early as the 9th-10th centuries. It was made almost entirely of wood, but its exact location is unknown.

In the 12th century, the new residence was built in the Romanesque style on the orders of Prince Soběslav.

At the beginning of the 14th century, Charles IV extended the Romanesque building to create a Gothic palace. His son, Wenceslas IV, added two perpendicular wings and the Chapel of All Saints was rebuilt.

Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace
Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace

During the 15th century it was abandoned for 80 years. In 1483 King Vladislav Jagiello returns to the castle and begins the last large-scale reconstruction of the palace.

We enter the palace and next to the gift shop is Vladislav’s Bedroom. Built in 1490, it served as an audience hall.

Leaving the souvenir shop, we enter the enormous Vladislavský sál, the Vladislav Hall. It was built between 1490 and 1502 by Benedikt Rejt and measures 62 x 16 metres and is thirteen metres high.

Since the 16th century it has been the scene of coronation feasts and banquets. It has also been the scene of knights’ tournaments and markets with artistic and luxury goods.

Vladislavský sál, the Vladislav Hall
Vladislavský sál, the Vladislav Hall.

On the right side is a door leading to the Ludvík wing with several rooms. This wing was remodelled by Rudolf II of Habsburg (1552 – 1612) for the Imperial Court Council.

On 23 May 1618, Vilém Slavat of Chlum and Košumberk and Jaroslav Bořita of Martinice, two regional rulers, were thrown out of the window, together with the scribe Fabritius. This was called the Defenestration of Prague.

Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace

Adjoining the Vladislav Hall at the other end is the Diet. The furnishings inside give an idea of how the Diet developed after 1627.

Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace

A little further on we find a portal with stairs leading upwards. Here you will find Zemské desky, the rooms of the land records. Here you will find all the documents of land property records that survived the Great Fire.

Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace

Another room is decorated with painted coats of arms of the highest officials of the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Starý královský palác, the Old Royal Palace

This concludes our visit to the Old Royal Palace in Prague.

We leave and make our way to the west square of the castle, Náměstí U Svatého Jiří. Here the cathedral delights us with its rear façade.

The square is also the site of Carratiho kašna, the Carrati Fountain. It used to house the statue of St. George. The original base was moved to the third courtyard, where it is now the Orlí kašna fountain.

The present fountain dates from 1840. Until 1928 it was located next to the Old Royal Palace.

To the southwest of the square is the Tereziánský ústav šlechtičen, the Institution of Noble Ladies of Prague Castle. Also known as the Royal Teresian Institution of Noble Ladies of Prague Castle.

It was founded by Empress Maria Theresa in 1755. The institution occupied the so-called Rosenberg Palace as well as the Gothic All Saints’ Chapel. On 1 May 1919, the government of the newly created Czechoslovak Republic decreed the dissolution of the institution.

Today the building is used for various purposes, such as the Archives of the Office of the President of the Republic.

Tereziánský ústav šlechtičen, the Institution of Noble Ladies of Prague Castle
Tereziánský ústav šlechtičen

And in the far west, Bazilika svatého Jiří, St. George’s Basilica. Another attraction for which we have a ticket.

It was created as the second church of Prague Castle. Only the foundations of the original building founded around 920 by Prince Vratislav I have been preserved.

With the foundation of the monastery in 973 the church was rebuilt and enlarged.

After a devastating fire in 1142, the church was rebuilt in the Romanesque style. In the first half of the 13th century, the Chapel of St. Ludmila and the entrance portico on the west side were added.

The present appearance is the result of a reconstruction between 1887 and 1908, in an attempt to restore its 12th century Romanesque appearance.

Bazilika svatého Jiří, St. George's Basilica
Bazilika svatého Jiří, St. George's Basilica

The remains of St Ludmila of Bohemia have been buried here since the 11th century. After the great fire of 1142, the remains were relocated behind the high altar.

At the back of the church is the chapel of St. Ludmila.

Bazilika svatého Jiří, St. George's Basilica

The basilica also houses the Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk, built between 1717 and 1722. The chapel was consecrated on 10 May 1722 by St. Vitus canon Jan Rudolf Špork.

The remains of (supposedly) St. Theodora are preserved under the altar.

Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk
Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk
Remains of Saint Theodora
Remains of Saint Theodora

We finish our visit to the basilica and set off again. We head towards Zlatá ulička u Daliborky, the Golden Lane.

Zlatá ulička u Daliborky was built at the end of the 16th century, originally to house the twenty-four guards of Emperor Rudolf II of Habsburg (1555 – 1612) and their families.

The alley owes its name to the goldsmiths who later lived here. Famous writers such as Franz Kafka and the Nobel laureate Jaroslav Seifert lived here for a short period of time.

Zlatá ulička u Daliborky, the Golden Lane
Zlatá ulička u Daliborky, the Golden Lane

Since 2011, an exhibition dedicated to its history from 1600 to 1956 has been on display in the alley.

Zlatá ulička u Daliborky, the Golden Lane

The walk became very special as the snow fell on us.

As it was early and we didn’t have a reservation until 2 o’clock for lunch, we decided to have a coffee. We did so at a place called Vikárka Restaurant. Big mistake. Extremely slow service. Almost an hour for coffee. We had to run.

The entrance to the cathedral was included in the basic pass.

One of the elements I liked the most was the Chapel of St. Wenceslas. It is Gothic in style and was built between 1362 and 1367. It was consecrated before Charles IV.

It is located in the same place where the Rotunda of St. Vitus stood, where St. Wenceslas was executed. The impressive paintings date from 1509.

Katedrála Sv. Víta

The spectacular tomb of St. John of Nepomuk, made of silver in 1736, is also a highlight. The goldsmiths were Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, Antonio Corradini and Jan Josef Würt.

tomb of St. John of Nepomuk
Tomb of St. John of Nepomuk
Katedrála Sv. Víta

After the visit to the cathedral, we set off at a brisk pace for the restaurant we had booked. The place in question is called Pork’s. It is a place specialising in pork with a very small menu where the roast knuckle is the star.

We arrived at the place by the skin of our teeth. There was a long queue, although it was for those without a reservation. We went in, looked for our reservation and… surprise! we had made it for the next day. Even so, the guy sits us down. The place is huge and has about a million tables.

The food was over the top good and it’s not expensive. But we ordered too much…

Pork's

In case you can’t tell from my expression, it looked like butter. And for dessert: beer ice cream.

beer ice cream in Pork's

In total we spent 1,020 CZK (44.35€), but we had ordered food for 3 people.

With our stomachs full (and beyond) we headed to our next destination. We visited the Muzeum Karlova mostu, the Charles Bridge Museum. The entrance is included in the castle pass.

In the museum you can learn about the history of Prague’s most famous bridge. From its construction to the present day, including its restorations. In the basement you can see part of the foundations of the old Judith Bridge on display.

Interesting… but only if you have time.

Muzeum Karlova mostu, the Charles Bridge Museum
Muzeum Karlova mostu

After the visit to the museum we set off for the Dancing House. Although there were actually several things of note during this one.

Like the otters… yes, the otters. The water rats. An invasive species that arrived from South America and has colonised most of the country. The Czech state is trying to wipe them out, but tourists and many locals feed them. It is an invasive species that threatens the endemic ecosystem. So the best thing to do is NOT TO FEED them.

otters in Prague

But let’s get down to business, we come to Most Legií, the Legion Bridge. It was built between 1898 and 1901 by architect Antonín Balšánek and engineer Jiří Soukup.

This bridge replaced the old chain bridge that operated from 1841 and 1898.

Most Legií, the Legion Bridge
Most Legií, the Legion Bridge

Národní divadlo, the National Theatre, is located next to the bridge. In 1844, the Czech politician František Palacký proposed the construction of a large theatre in parliament. It was to house the nascent Czech National Opera.

Construction did not begin until 1868 and was completed in 1877. The architect was Josef Zítek.

It was opened on 11 June 1881 with a performance of Bedřich Smetana’s opera Libuše. It was used for the visit of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria.

In 1977 it was closed for extensive restoration. It reopened on 18 November 1983, again with a performance of Libuše.

Národní divadlo, the National Theatre
Národní divadlo, the National Theatre

A little further south we find Palác Žofín, the Žofín Palace. It is a neo-Renaissance chateau located on Slovanský Island in the Moldova River.

In 1830, the island, then called Barvířský ostrov, was bought by a prosperous miller. He built this chateau there between 1836 and 1837. It was named after Princess Sophia, mother of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I (King of Hungary and Bohemia).

In 1925 it was renamed Slovanský ostrov to commemorate the Prague Slavic Congress of 1848.

In 1884, the city of Prague bought the island, including the palace, which was reconstructed as a two-storey building. The exterior and interior were renovated between 1991 and 1994.

Palác Žofín, the Žofín Palace
Palác Žofín, the Žofín Palace

At the southern tip of the island, but actually in the middle of the river, is Šítkovská vodárenská věž. It is a water tower built at the end of the 15th century. It was built to replace the old wooden one from 1495, which burnt down in 1501. After the fire, it was rebuilt in wood, which burnt down again in 1588.

Between 1588 and 1591 the current one was built. In 1641 it was severely damaged during the Swedish siege of Prague. It was repaired in 1651.

The tower served as a central water supply. It distributed water by gravity to the fountains and houses in the New Town and the Old Town. It served this purpose until 1847.

Close by is Tančící dům, the Dancing House. Built between 1992 and 1996, it is a deconstructivist building. The design is the work of the Czech-Croatian architect Vlado Milunić.

It was a controversial design as it clashes with the beautiful Baroque, Gothic and Art Nouveau buildings in the area. It is curious, but it is really ugly as hell.

The building houses a hotel, a gallery, a restaurant and a bar. It’s just another tourist attraction for Instagram…

Tančící dům, the Dancing House
Tančící dům, the Dancing House

This building is just across the street and is actually much nicer:

Prague

We rest for a while and then set off for our next destination. This is a free tour of the mysteries and legends of Prague.

On the way, we take a short detour to the Deymovský palác, the Deymovský Palace. On its façade we find another of David Černý’s sculptures: Three women on a house.

These are three statues of women engaged in different activities.

From here straight to the free tour. It was a marvellous experience. Dani, the guide, you can tell he lives it with passion. Highly recommended.

After the free tour we left totally exhausted for the hotel. But first we had to have dinner. We did so at the Palladium, in a sandwich franchise called Bageterie Boulevard. They weren’t bad but they were nothing special. Dinner cost us 418 CZK (18€).

After dinner we retired to the hotel to rest. Tomorrow we have to get up early for an excursion.

Prague 2023: Visiting a Fairytale

Well, we are going to Prague. After 3 years we are finally travelling in winter to Europe again.

what to do in Prague
your Hotel in Prague

NEXT ENTRY

Prague 2023 (I)

After the pandemic, we are once again traveling through Europe in winter, choosing Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, as our destination.

On March 24 we take off at 21.30 at night from Malaga. The company chosen is Smartwings, the Czech low-cost airline.

At around 00.45 we landed and left in search of the transfer we had hired. At that time we did not feel like taking public transportation.

Transfer in Prague

Around 2 am we arrive at the hotel. We check in and go to sleep. This time we chose the Ibis Praha Old Town. Very central and cheap. 40€ per night plus another 5€ per night for taxes.

Hotels in Prague

February 25th

Given the time we arrived at the hotel, we decided not to get up too early so that the day would catch us rested. At 9 o’clock we get up and at 10 o’clock we are on our way.

First impression of Prague: it is freezing cold. So the first thing to do is to have breakfast with a hot coffee to have energy.

The first place we can contemplate is Náměstí Republiky (Republic Square). Here we can observe several remarkable buildings. The most striking is Obecní dům, the municipal house.

It is an auditorium inaugurated in 1912 and built in Art Nouveau style by architects Antonín Balšánek and Osvald Polívka.

Obecní dům, the municipal house
Obecní dům, the municipal house

Right next to it we find Prašná brána, the Gunpowder Tower. One of the must-see sights of the city.

The Powder Tower was built in late Gothic style in 1475. Its architect was Matěj Rejsek. It was one of the gates of the city wall defending the city. In the 19th century it was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style.

The current name of the Gunpowder Gate (Prašná brána) comes from the 18th century, when it served as a gunpowder storehouse.

Prašná brána, the Gunpowder Tower
Prašná brána, the Gunpowder Tower

We crossed the gate and entered Staré Město, the Old Town. We reached Staroměstské náměst, the Old Town Square.

The square arose in the 12th century and many remarkable buildings can be seen here. On the pavement of the square you can see the inscription commemorating the execution of 27 Czech personalities in 1621 and the Prague meridian.

Staroměstské náměst, the Old Town Square
Staroměstské náměst, the Old Town Square
Prague meridian
Prague meridian

On the square next to a crowd of tourists at all hours we find Staroměstská radnice, Prague’s town hall with its famous astronomical clock.

The town hall building was built in 1338. It was by order of the Bohemian king and Count of Luxembourg John of Luxembourg, the Blind.

The building underwent numerous renovations and extensions over the years. Today it is made up of several buildings in Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Staroměstská radnice
Staroměstská radnice

The main attraction of the town hall is Pražský orloj, the astronomical clock. It was built by the clockmaker Nicholas of Kadan and Jan Šindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Charles University in Prague.

The oldest part of the clock is the mechanism of the astronomical dial dating from 1410.

The calendar and the Gothic sculptures that decorate the façade were added at the end of the 15th century.

Pražský orloj, the astronomical clock
Pražský orloj, the astronomical clock

Four figures stand out on the clock:

  • Lust represented by a Turkish prince with a mandolin.
  • Death represented by a skeleton with an hourglass.
  • Greed represented by a merchant with a bag.
  • Vanity represented by a man holding a mirror.

Every hour on the hour, between 9 o’clock in the morning and 9 o’clock at night, the figures are set in motion. The vain one looks at himself in the mirror, the greedy one moves his bag, the skeleton brandishes his scythe and pulls a rope, the lustful one shakes his head.

Through the small windows then begins the walk of the apostles. The twelve apostles parade slowly leaning out of the window preceded by St. Peter.

Pražský orloj, the astronomical clock
Pražský orloj, the astronomical clock

Since it was only 10 minutes to the Apostles’ Walk, we decided to wait in the crowd. At that moment it was starting to snow, which made it even more spectacular.

After this, we continue contemplating the square. Another of the most remarkable buildings is Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem, the Church of Our Lady of Týn.

A Romanesque church already existed here in the 11th century. It was a hospital church for foreign merchants coming to the Týn courtyard. In 1256 it was replaced by a Gothic church.

The present building was begun in 1360. The church was designed in late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. The building was completed in 1450 although the north tower was in 1471.

For the south tower had to wait until 1511, being the work of the architect Matěj Rejsek.

Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem, the Church of Our Lady of Týn
Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem, the Church of Our Lady of Týn

Just ahead, next to the meridian, is Mariánský sloup, the Marian Column. It is a monumental baroque column made of sandstone. It consists of a sculpture of Mary Immaculate at the top and other statues on the pedestal.

Mariánský sloup

Next to it is Památník Jana Husa, the monument to Jan Hus. Installed in 1915, Ladislav Šaloun’s work is one of the most important Czech Art Nouveau symbolist works.

Jan Hus (1370-1415) was a Czech theologian and philosopher, rector of the Charles University in Prague. As a reformer and preacher he is considered one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation.

He was burned at the stake after being condemned for heresy at the Council of Constance.

Památník Jana Husa, the monument to Jan Hus
Památník Jana Husa, the monument to Jan Hus

Behind the monument is the Golz-Kinských Palác, the Golz-Kinských palace. The palace was originally built for the Golz family between 1755 and 1765. The building was designed by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer in the rococo style.

Today it is one of the seats of the Prague National Gallery.

Golz-Kinských Palác, the Golz-Kinských palace / Prague National Gallery
Golz-Kinských Palác, the Golz-Kinských palace

The other notable building is Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas. This is one of the oldest churches in Prague, being mentioned as early as 1273.

In 1635 the church passed into the hands of the Benedictines, who built a monastery between 1727 and 1730. Between 1730 and 1735 they built the new church in the Baroque style.

Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas
Kostel sv. Mikuláše, the church of St. Nicholas

After seeing the square, we walked in the direction of Charles Bridge.

I was very struck by a building that is part of the town hall. It is Dům U Minuty, a clear example of Czech bourgeois renaissance architecture. The façade is decorated with sgraffiti depicting scenes inspired by biblical and mythological scenes. Contemporary Renaissance legends are also depicted.

Between 1889 and 1896, Franz Kafka lived here with his parents.

Dům U Minuty
Dům U Minuty

To the east of the Old Town Square is Malém náměstí (Small Square). In the centre is Kašna na Malém náměstí, the Wishing Fountain.

It is a wrought-iron fountain surrounded by a Renaissance grille dating from 1878. Before that, however, there was a well from the late 16th century.

Another notable building is Rottův dům, the house of Vincenc Josef Rott. He was a wealthy Prague merchant.

The building was rebuilt between 1896 and 1897 by his son Ladislav Rott. It has a Neo-Renaissance façade by František Kindl. It is painted according to the design of illustrator Mikoláš Alš.

The façade is decorated with plant motifs and paintings of allegories of craftsmanship and agriculture.

Rottův dům and Fountain of Wishes
Rottův dům and Fountain of Wishes

After walking along Karlova Street, we reach Křižovnické náměstí, the Crusader Square. Around the square, apart from the Charles Bridge, there are several notable landmarks:

On the north side we find Kostel svatého Františka z Assisi, the monastic church of St. Francis of Assisi. It was built between 1679 and 1689 in the Baroque style. It was built by the Italian builders Gaudenzio Casanova and, after his death, by Domenico Canevalle. However, the project was designed by the French architect Jan Baptista Mathey.

The church was built on the foundations of the Gothic church of the Holy Spirit. It was inaugurated by the Archbishop of Prague Jan Bedřich of Waldstein in 1688.

Kostel svatého Františka z Assisi
Kostel svatého Františka z Assisi

On the east side, we find Kostel Nejsvětějšího Salvátora, the Church of St. Saviour. It is part of the Klementinum (to be discussed later).

The church was built on the foundations of the Gothic church of St. Clement of the Dominican Order. Construction began in 1578.

In 1581, the primate of the neighbouring Jewish ghetto, Mordechai Maisel, donated 100 thalers to build the church. This testifies to a tolerant atmosphere and the peaceful coexistence of different religions in Prague.

Between 1654 and 1659, according to Lurago’s design, a new façade was built with three arcades reminiscent of Roman triumphal arches. In 1714, the towers were built by the architect František Maximilian Kaňka.

Nejsvětějšího Salvátora, the Church of St. Saviour
Nejsvětějšího Salvátora, the Church of St. Saviour

In the centre is the Pomník Karla IV, the monument to Charles IV. It is a neo-Gothic monument built by Jacob Daniel Burgschmiet according to a design by Ernst Julius Hähnel in 1844.

At the top of the monument is Charles IV with the charter of the university in his hand. Underneath is the inscription “Karolo Quarto Auctori Suo Literarum Universitas / Festo saeculari quinto 1848“. In Latin it reads: “Karolo Quarto Auctori Suo Literarum Universitas / Festo saeculari quinto 1848“.

Right at the base of the monument there are allegorical statues of the four faculties of Charles’ University. At that time they were: theology, medicine, law and philosophy.

Pomník Karla IV, the monument to Charles IV
Pomník Karla IV, the monument to Charles IV

And at the western end is Staroměstská mostecká věž, the tower of the Old Town Bridge. It was built in the Gothic style in the mid-14th century by order of Charles IV. It was designed by the German architect Schwäbisch Gmünd and is another of the city gates.

During the siege of Prague by the Swedes in 1648 in the Thirty Years’ War, the tower was bombed. The decoration on its western façade was destroyed.

The present appearance is due to a renovation carried out between 1874 and 1878. It was under the direction of architect Josef Mocker.

In 1621 the heads of 27 executed participants in the uprising against the Habsburgs were hung in iron baskets outside. They remained there for 10 years as a deterrent for future uprisings.

The tower is considered one of the most impressive works of Gothic architecture.

Staroměstská mostecká věž, the tower of the Old Town Bridge
Staroměstská mostecká věž

This is the beginning of Karlův most, the Charles Bridge. It is the oldest bridge in Prague and the second oldest in the country. After the Písek Stone Bridge.

It was built between 1357 and 1402 with the approval of King Charles IV. It replaced the old Judith Bridge, which was destroyed during a flood in 1342. Its name, Judith, had been named after the wife of King Ladislaus I.

It was originally known as the Stone Bridge. It was not until 1870 that it was called Charles Bridge.

Karlův most, the Charles Bridge
Karlův most, the Charles Bridge

The foundation stone was laid by Charles IV on 9 July 1357 (9.7.1357) at 5:31 in the morning. This date and time were not chosen by chance.

This date was determined by astrologers and numerologists close to the king. This precise moment can be stated as 135797531. It forms a capicua sequence of ascending and descending odd digits, which is engraved on the tower of the Old City.

From 1683 to 1928, 30 statues of saints were installed on the pillars of the bridge.

One of the most famous is that of St. John of Nepomuk, the patron saint of Bohemia. He was the confessor of Sophia of Bavaria, the queen consort of Bohemia. He refused to break the vow of sacramental secrecy, which caused the wrath of King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia.

It is said that after being tortured by the king, he agreed to tell his wife’s secrets to the first soul he met in the hall. What she did would be up to her and the king. The first soul was a dog. Wenceslas was so angry that he condemned it to be thrown into the river after cutting out its tongue.

The statue has a bronze image depicting this act. It is said that if you touch it, your deepest secrets will never come to light.

St. John of Nepomuk Prague

John of Nepomuk was the first saint to be martyred for keeping the secret of confession. He is the protector against slander, and due to the manner of his death, protector against floods.

Next to the statue is an image of Saint John, right on the spot where he was thrown into the river.

It is said that touching it fulfils a deity. A tour guide told us that if you do the ritual right, you will return to Prague.

St. John of Nepomuk Prague

Just in case, we did it. Here I am performing the ritual:

On the other side of the bridge, in Malá Strana, the old quarter, we find Malostranská mostecká věž, another of the city’s towers. It is actually two towers. Both form the gateway to the quarter.

The higher tower, dating from 1464, is a continuation of the bridge tower in the Old Town of Parléř with its late Gothic architecture.

The lower one, in Renaissance style, dates from 1591 and replaces a Romanesque tower from the 12th century.

Malostranská mostecká věž

But before we visit Malá Strana, we go down to the island of Kampa. The oldest mention of Kampa dates back to 1169. It was in the foundation charter of the Church of the Order of Malta during the reign of King Vladislav II.

The island acquired its present form by modifying the terrain and the bed of the river Čertovka in the mill channel. It was also shaped by the debris from various disasters, especially the Great Fire of 1541.

The first buildings were mills with attached plots (mill gardens), which later became aristocratic gardens.

In the northern part is Na Kampě Square surrounded by ornamental buildings. The southern part of the island consists of Kampa Park.

During the weekend there was a flea market with stalls selling drinks and local food on the square.

Kampa

After the walk through the square, we arrived at Kampa Park.

Kampa Park

It is home to Museum Kampa, the museum of contemporary art in Central Europe. It is located in the area known as the Sova Mills in Malá Strana.

It houses the collection of Jan and Meda Mládek, František Kupka and the Cubist sculptor Otto Gutfreund. There are also several works by key 20th-century artists from the so-called Eastern Bloc.

Outside is the work Miminka by sculptor David Černý. Known as the Giant Babies of Kampa. It depicts three strange crawling giant babies.

Miminka

After the walk through the park, we turned around and went to Mlýn Huť. It is a 13th century water mill that belonged to the monastery of Chotěšov, located 100 km from Prague.

In 1293, it was bought by the provost of Vyšehrad Jan and became the property of the Dominican nuns of Malostran. At the beginning of the 16th century, it became the property of Viktorín Kornel, a cadastral official.

In 1624 it passed into the hands of Pavel Michna z Vacínova, who attached it to his house on the present site.

Next to it is a peculiar sculpture. It is Vodník, a spirit of the waters.

Mlýn Huť

According to mythology, when he gets angry he breaks dams, watermills and even drowns all living things. Fishermen and millers make offerings to calm him down. Otherwise he would drag people to his underwater abode to serve him as slaves for eternity.

The Vodník store the souls of the drowned in porcelain cups which they revere as their most precious possession. Through the number they possess they show their wealth and status to other vodník.

Vodník

Just a few metres away is Lennonova zeď, Lennon’s wall outside Kampa. Shortly after John Lennon’s death, this wall was transformed into a makeshift memorial with a painting of the singer’s face. Lit candles accompanied quotes from John’s songs about peace and freedom in the world.

Soon slogans criticising the communist regime that ruled the country began to appear. The regime banned the playing of the ex-Beatle’s songs because of their subversive message.

The communist police proceeded to erase them, but every time they tried, the graffiti was repeated. Even the installation of surveillance cameras did not prevent the graffiti from being repeated.

Lennonova zeď, Lennon's wall

The wall is owned by the Knights of the Order of the Maltese Cross, who allow new graffiti to be painted on it without interruption.

We head into Malá Strana and go in search of a place to eat that was recommended in some blogs. The place is called Krčma U krále Brabantského. Czech food at a good price.

The restaurant looks like an ornate medieval tavern. It is really very nice. The food is quite good. The service… quite average. They took a long time to take our order. They took a long time to serve us our drinks. A second course arrived first, followed by the drink. After a while another second course and finally the first course….

Still, a positive experience. The meal cost 950 CZK (40€) including service. Because the service is paid separately. It is not obligatory like tipping in the USA but it is not nice not to leave a tip. It is recommended to tip 10% of the total.

Krčma U krále Brabantského
Krčma U krále Brabantského
Krčma U krále Brabantského

In the evening they organise a medieval show, but we did not attend (it costs a fortune).

After lunch, we went to the castle area, up a million stairs. This devil’s spawn is known as Nové zámecké schody (New Castle Stairs).

They were built in the 17th century to replace the steep cart track that had been here since 1278. The last reconstruction dates back to 1972.

Nové zámecké schody

We climbed the 220 steps and got to the top. It was not as hard as it looked. At the top of the stairs we had a spectacular view of the city.

Nearby is the terrace of a Starbucks with even more spectacular views. It’s not the first one we’ve seen with a great location, like the one at the Shibuya crossroads in Tokyo.

After getting some air, we head to Hradčanské náměstí, the Hradcany square.

We will talk about the castle later during the visit…

In Hradčanské náměstí there are many remarkable sights. Starting with Arcibiskupský palác, the Archbishop’s Palace.

The rococo palace was built in several different phases. The original building was a residence for Archbishop Antonín Brus of Mohelnice, who first renovated it in the Czech Renaissance style between 1562 and 1564.

After several more alterations, it acquired its present rococo appearance in 1765 by the architect Johann Joseph Wirch.

Arcibiskupský palác
Arcibiskupský palác

Next to it is Kandelábr pouličního osvětlení. One of the three remaining monumental lampposts in Prague. It is the work of architect Aleš Linsbauer and sculptor Eduard Veselý.

Kandelábr pouličního osvětlení
Kandelábr pouličního osvětlení

The square also contains two buildings that are part of the Národní galerie Praha, the National Gallery of Prague. One is Salmovský palác and the other is Schwarzenberský palác.

Salmovský palác, the Salmovský Palace, was built between 1800 and 1811 in the Classicist style. The work was carried out by architect František Pavíček on the orders of Prague Archbishop Vilém Florentin.

The chateau was bought by the Schwarzenbergs in 1811 and confiscated by the Germans in 1940.

After the war it passed into the hands of the Czechoslovak state in 1947. It was first used as flats and, from 1983, as the Swiss embassy.

In 2002 it became part of the National Gallery in Prague.

Salmovský palác
Salmovský palác

Schwarzenberský palác, a Renaissance palace, was built between 1545 and 1567.

The palace passed through various noble families of Prague until 1719 when it was acquired by the Schwarzenberg family.

From 1909 the Schwarzenbergs rented the premises to the National Technical Museum. Until 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo and the palace was confiscated by the Nazis. He managed to flee to the United States, and on his return after the war, in 1947, the Czechoslovak state expropriated the chateau from him.

It then became the Museum of Military History. In 2002 it became the property of the National Gallery in Prague.

Schwarzenberský palác
Schwarzenberský palác

At the western end of the square is the Toskánský palác, a Baroque-Classicist palace from the end of the 17th century.

Construction of the palace was begun by Count Michael Osvald Thun-Hohenstein in 1690. He died in 1694 before the construction was completed.

The unfinished building was bought by Anna Marie Františka, Duchess of Tuscany in 1718. Hence its present name: Palazzo Toscano.

The palace was completed by the French architect Jean Baptiste Mathey in collaboration with the Italian Giacomo Antonio Canevalle.

Today, the building is used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

Toskánský palác
Toskánský palác

The Martinický palác, built in 1541, is one of the most beautiful Renaissance buildings in Prague in the second half of the 16th century.

It was owned by Ondřej Teyfl of Kinsdorf and Zeilberk, and in 1589 it was sold to Jiří Bořit of Martinice na Smečná. The latter immediately began to rebuild it. From this period there are sgraffito paintings on the main and courtyard façades. They depict scenes from the life of Joseph of Egypt, the exploits of Samson and Hercules.

The chateau was owned by the Martinic family until 1788. In 1799, the chateau became the property of Josefa Weitenweberová. At that time, 26 dwellings were built, which gradually increased to 70.

There were rented flats in the chateau until 1967. Between that year and 1973 it was rebuilt by architect Zdeněk Hölzel for the Office of the Chief Architect of the City of Prague. This function lasted until 1994.

In 2016, the palace was bought by a Czech investment group. The palace facilities can be rented for conferences, wedding ceremonies and other social events.

I was really struck by its exterior decoration.

Martinický palác
Martinický palác

It was getting close to time for our free tour of Prague. We went down to the meeting point but before that, we went into a grocery shop to get water and change a 1.000 CZK note to pay for the tour. It seems a trivial thing but this will be very important for something that happened to us on the last day.

We did the free tour of civitatis and it was great, as always. Pedro, the guide was very nice and told us a lot of the history of the city.

After the tour, the cold and tiredness was starting to take its toll, in fact, it was starting to snow quite heavily. We decided to have some dinner and go to rest.

As we are masochists and we like to be cold, we had dinner in some little stalls in the street in the Old Town Square.

It’s funny to eat while it’s snowing on you. We had a Czech-style roast ham, which was delicious, and Czech sausage with potato salad.

Prague

Dinner was very tasty, but it was time for a rest. So a walk in the snow to the hotel.

As the entry became excessively long, I’m going to divide the diary into several entries so that it doesn’t become tiresome.

NEXT ENTRY

France

On this page you can find information about France. From detailed general information to our travel diaries.

Content:

What to see in France:

Travel Diaries:

Find the best activities and tours in France with Civitatis:

France

NEXT ENTRY

Paris

In this post you will find everything you need to know about Paris. From a bit of history to how to get there or how to get around the capital of France

Content:

  • Practical information

Travel Diaries

Find the best activities and tours in Paris with Civitatis:

paris

NEXT ENTRY

Paris. Practical Information

On this page you can find general information about the beautiful city of Paris. From its history to learning how to get around.

Content:

Practical Information:

1. Security

France is a safe country. The most touristic areas of the country, especially in Paris, have significant police protection, it is in them, as well as in public transport, where the highest rate of theft occurs, so it is advisable to take a minimum of precautions:

  • Do not carry all the documentation, money and cards in the same bag or suitcase.
  • Be alert when withdrawing money from an ATM.
  • Be discreet when using the mobile in a crowded place.
  • Do not leave bags or backpacks unattended.

What if you should avoid some suburbs of big cities like Paris, Marseille or Toulouse. But since they are not touristic areas, they should not be included in our plans.

In the event of loss or theft, whether of objects or documentation, it is advisable to file a complaint at a Police Station: «main courante», if there has been no physical damage, and «plainte» in the event of robbery with aggression.

2. Healthcare

For European citizens, it is recommended that they apply for the European Health Card (TSE). In Spain, it can be requested at any of the Social Security service and information centers or through the Social Security website.

The Card entitles its holder to receive the health benefits that he may need during a temporary stay in France, regardless of the purpose of the stay.

This card entitles you to receive health benefits throughout the French public health network and in many affiliated private establishments, under the same conditions as French Social Security beneficiaries.

In many cases, these conditions include a co-payment system for the medical benefits received and the medicines purchased with a prescription. Specific details can be found here:

https://www.cleiss.fr/particuliers/venir/vacances/index_en.html

For citizens from outside Europe, a good travel insurance is recommended. Healthcare in France is tremendously expensive and, as they say: prevention is better than cure. You can consult them on the IATI website, specialists in travel insurance that, for being our reader, you will get a 5% discount on any of the insurance modalities.

3. Drive in France

The maximum speed on motorways is 130 km/h in normal weather conditions and 110 km/h in case of rain; 80 km/h on bidirectional national highways without central separation and 50 km/h in cities.

Driving with an alcohol level of more than 0.25 mg per liter of expired air, or 0.5 g in blood, is prohibited.

The French administration rigorously enforces traffic legislation, following the «zero tolerance» principle. Thus, a speeding of more than 40 km/h over the authorized limit is sanctioned with the immediate withdrawal of the driving license and a significant fine. In the event that speeding, whatever it may be, puts the lives of third parties at risk, the penalty can be one year in prison and a fine of more than €15,000 ($17,000). The sanction can reach 10 years in prison if there are aggravating circumstances.

3. How to get to Paris

Paris has three international airports and is one of the most visited cities in the world, being one of the ones that receives the most flights.

Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

It is the most important airport in Paris and the second in Europe by number of passengers (after Heathrow in London). More than 76 million travelers passed through its terminals in 2019.

Charles de Gaulle Airport is huge and has 3 terminals. The second of these has different halls connected to each other. To move between the different terminals there is a free bus.

We recommend going long, long before the departure of the flight.

How to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris.

There are quite a few ways to get to Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

1. Transfer service

It is certainly the most comfortable option but not the cheapest.

For this we recommend the Civitatis service, very good and professional.

2. RER

RER trains on line B connect Charles de Gaulle Airport with the center of Paris in approximately 30 minutes and their frequency is between 10 and 15 minutes.

The price of the ticket is 11.45€ which corresponds to zones 1 to 5. This same ticket will be used to transfer to the Paris metro.

RER B line map
transport in ParisCharles de Gaulle Airport
Map of the RER B line.

More information on the Paris Airports website.

3. RoissyBus shuttle

The Roissybus is a bus that connects Charles de Gaulle Airport with the Opera square. It takes approximately 60 minutes and the ticket price is 16.20€. The frequency is between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the time slot.

Map of the RoissyBus shuttle
Transpor in ParisCharles de Gaulle Airport
Map of the RoissyBus shuttle.

More information on the Paris Airports website.

4. Bus

There are two urban bus lines that arrive in Paris from Charles de Gaulle:

Bus 350: Connects the airport with the Gare de l’Est station.
Bus 351: Connects the airport with Plaza Nation.

The journey takes about 60 minutes and the price is 2.10€. The frequency is between 15 and 35 minutes.

Hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

If you arrive after 9:30 p.m., you can take one of the two night bus routes (Noctilien) that connect Charles de Gaulle with Gare de l’Est station. The lines are 140 and 143 and their price is 8€.

5. Taxi

The taxi between Charles de Gaulle Airport is between 50€ and 70€, depending on the destination.

Go to the downtown area on the right bank of the Seine River, where, for example, the Pompidou Center is located, the price is closed and it is €53.

Go to the central area of the left bank of the river, where the Eiffel Tower is located, the price is also closed and is €58.

6. Go to Disneyland Paris

If your destination is Disneyland, the most direct way to get there is by taking the Disneyland Magical Shuttle from €23 with a duration of approximately 45 minutes.

Transfer between Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris Orly Airport

If your flight arrives at Charles de Gaulle Airport and your connection departs from Paris Orly airport, you can take the RER B train to Antony and transfer to the Orlyval light rail there.

The frequency is between 4 and 7 minutes and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The train work between 6 am and 11:35 pm. The price of RER+Orlyval tickets is €12.10.

Map of all airport transport
Paris
Map of all airport transport.

Paris Orly Airport

Orly (ORY) is the second largest airport in Paris after Charles de Gaulle. In 2018, more than 32 million passengers passed through its terminals. It has two terminals: South and West. If you want to move between both terminals you can do it for free on the Orlyval automatic train.

How to get to Paris from Orly

1. Transfer service

It is certainly the most comfortable option but not the cheapest.

For this we recommend the Civitatis service, very good and professional.

Transfer Paris Orly

2. Orlyval and RER B

The Orlyval automatic train connects Orly Airport with the Antony RER station, where we can take line B.

The frequency is between 3 and 7 minutes, and the journey takes about 30 minutes. The price is 14.10€.

More information on the Paris Airports website.

3. Tram

Tram line 7 connects Villejuif-Louis Aragon metro station (terminus of Paris metro line 7) with Athis-Mons via Orly 4. The line passes through Paris-Orly airport with a stop at Orly 4 and the Coeur d’Orly area (Ibis, Ibis Budget and Novotel hotels).

The journey takes about 45 minutes to/from the Villejuif-Louis Aragon metro stop and the frequency is between 8 and 15 minutes. It works from 5.30 to 00.30. The price is 2.10€.

Map of Paris tram line 7
Transport in Paris
Orly airport
Map of tram line 7.

Tram line 9 connects the Porte de Choisy metro station (Paris metro line 7) with Orly Ville. It connects the Paris-Orly airport with the 183 bus.

The journey takes 1 hour to Orly airport, it works from 05:30 to 00:30. The price is €1.90.

Map of Paris tram line 9
Transport in Paris
Orly airport
Map of tram line 9.

Bus 183 provides access to Paris-Orly and the Rungis international market. Its route allows a connection on the T7 tramway (“Bretagne” stop), the T9 tramway (at “Choisy-le-Roi RER” and “Robert Peary”) as well as the RER C (at “Pont de Rungis – Aéroport d’ Orly” and “Choisy-le-Roi RER”).

Map of Paris bus 183
Transport in Paris
Orly airport
Map of bus 183.

More information on the Paris Airports website.

4. Orlybus

This is a shuttle bus service between Paris-Orly airport and Place Denfert-Rochereau.

The journey takes about 30 minutes with a frequency between 10 and 15 minutes. The Orlybus runs from 05:35 to 00:30. The ticket price is 11.20€.

Orly bus
Transport in Paris

More information on the Paris Airports website.

5. Taxi

The price of a taxi from Orly Airport to the center of Paris is between €70 and €80.

Transport map of Orly Airport
Transport in Paris
Transport map of Orly Airport.

Beauvais Airport

Beauvais Airport, 85 km north of Paris is a small airport in Tillé, a small town located near Beauvais. Beauvais is the airport where low cost airlines.

How to get to Paris from Beauvais airport

1. Transfer service

It is certainly the most comfortable option but not the cheapest.

For this we recommend the Civitatis service, very good and professional.

Transfer in Beauvais airport
Transport in Paris

2. Bus

Paris-Beauvais Airport offers a regular direct bus service between central Paris at Porte Maillot station and the airport.

The journey takes about 75 minutes and the price is 16.90€ (one way). The return ticket price is 29.90€

To return from Paris to the airport, buses leave 3 hours before the flight from the bus park on Boulevard Pershingla next to Porte Maillot station.

3. Taxi

It is not a recommended transport due to its high cost, between 170€ and 210€.

More information on the Paris-Beauvais Airport website.

4. Transport in Paris

1. Metro

The first line of the Paris metro was inaugurated on July 19, 1900 and connected Porte de Vincennes with Porte Maillot. Since its inauguration, the network has been gradually expanding, having opened the last line in 1998, which is considered one of the most modern in the world. Today it has 303 stations and 219 kilometers of tracks.

It is the third longest metro network in Western Europe, only surpassed by London and Madrid.

The metro is the fastest way to get around Paris. The metro network consists of 16 lines that communicate with each other and with the RER trains.

The hours are from 5.30 to 1.00.

There are several types of transport ticket: single ticket, called Ticket t+, and daily and weekly passes, Paris Visite and Passe Navigo. We will analyze these below.

More information on the Paris transport website.

2. Bus

The most popular transportation system after the subway. Paris has more than 60 lines and 40 night lines.

The advantage over the metro is that you see Paris during the journey. The downside is that, as long as you get stuck, you don’t get to the destination in life.

Night buses (Noctilien).
Noctilien buses are night buses that run between 00:30 and 07:00. The frequency of these buses is from 10 to 15 minutes on weekends and from 15 to 30 minutes on weekdays. They are identified by having the letter N before the number.

There are several types of transport ticket: single ticket, called Ticket t+, and daily and weekly passes, Paris Visite and Passe Navigo.

It is advisable to buy tickets in advance at metro stations, newsagents and tobacconists. If we buy them from the driver, it carries an extra fee of €0.40.

More information on the Paris transport website.

3. Tram

It worked until 1957, the year in which it was completely replaced by the metro, but at the end of the 20th century, the RATP company put it back into operation.

There are currently 9 tram lines in operation, although they are of little use to tourists.

More information on the Paris transport website.

4. RER

The RER trains in Paris are regional trains that, in addition to reaching nearby places, complement the metro network when they run through the city center.

The Paris suburban network has five lines, more than 250 stations and almost 600 kilometers of track. The RER lines are named with letters: A, B, C, D and E. The most interesting from a tourist point of view are the first three.

RER A: Connects Disneyland Paris with the city center.
RER B: Connects Charles de Gaulle Airport with the center of Paris.
RER C: Arrives at Orly Airport and the Château de Versailles.

The lines have normal and express trains. The express do not stop at all stations so you have to take this into account and look carefully at the station screens. In these we also have to look at the destinations since they vary according to the hours on the same lines.

More information on the Paris transport website.

5. Funicular at Montmartre

The Montmartre Funicular connects the lower part of the Montmartre neighborhood with its upper part, where the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is located.

The Montmartre Funicular became operational in the summer of 1900 and was then hydraulically powered using a system of cisterns that filled and emptied according to passenger load. It has undergone several renovations until reaching the current one, from 1991.

Its hours are from 6:00 to 00:45. There are several types of transport ticket: single ticket, called Ticket t+, and daily and weekly passes, Paris Visite and Passe Navigo.

6. Batobus

The Batobus is a tourist boat that runs along the Seine river making stops at the main points of interest in Paris.

As with tourist buses, at each stop you can stop as long as you want and wait for the next boats.

The schedule in summer is from 10:00 to 19:00 and in winter from 10:00 to 17:00 and its frequency is 30 minutes in summer and 45 in winter.

Here you can buy your tickets in advance:

Batobus Paris
Transport in Paris

7. Tourist bus

All tour bus companies offer open-top, double-decker buses with Spanish commentary via headphones.

We recommend Paris Big Bus (formerly Les Cars Rouges), the oldest tourist bus company in Paris. As its old name indicated, Big Bus Paris buses are red.

The Big Bus Paris itinerary has a total duration of 2:15 hours and makes 11 stops, allowing you to get on and off at each of them.

The Big Bus operates from 9:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. and its frequency ranges between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the time of year.

Here you can easily buy tickets in advance:

paris Hop On Hop off bus
Paris touristic bus

8. Taxi

Taxis in Paris are normal cars and the only thing that identifies them is the sign on the roof. Inside they must have a taximeter and a plate indicating the license number.

The minimum service has a cost of €7 so, unless you run out of transport at dawn, it will not be worth using it.

9. Tickets

Ticket t+

Ticket t+ is the name by which the single ticket for the Paris transport network is known. This ticket allows the use of the main means of transport for 90 minutes (except Orlyval, Roissybus, buses 299, 350, 351 and Noctiliens and Tram Express 11).

It comes in the form of a cardboard ticket or loaded onto a contactless medium.
The t+ Ticket does not allow you to go / return on the same line, or interrupt the trip and then continue on the same line.

The price is 2.10€. The 10-trip t+ Ticket costs €16.90.

Passe Navigo

The Passe Navigo is the most used transport pass by the inhabitants of Paris and is the cheapest way to get around the city for long stays.

We have the Passe Navigo Semaine, which is valid for the whole week and has several inconvenients:

ZONEWEEK PRICEMONTH PRICE
Zone 1-530€84.10€
Zone 2-327.45€76.70€
Zone 3-426.60€74.70€
Zone 4-526.10€72.90€
Prices 2023.

The Passe Navigo can be purchased at Metro stations, RER stations and at airports.

There is also the Passe Navigo Jour, valid for one day with unlimited travel.

ZONEPRICE
Zone 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-58.45€
Zone 1-3, 2-4, 3-511.30€
Zone 1-4, 2-514€
Zone 1-520.10€
Prices 2023

Your Navigo Jour pass is valid for unlimited travel in certain areas of the Île-de-France network. Keep in mind that the Navigo Jour pass does not have any zoning.
To choose the zones of your pass, just take into account the zones of your starting point and your arrival point. For example, if you are looking for a pass to go from Aulnay-Sous-Bois (zone 4) to Evry (zone 5), buy an «all zones» pass, since you have to go through Paris.

Mobilis Pass

The Mobilis Pass is valid for a full day from midnight to midnight the following day.

The Mobilis pass is personal: do not forget to write your name, surnames and date of use on the coupon so that it is valid.

The prices are exactly the same as the Navigo Jours Pass.

Paris Visite Pass

The Paris Visite card allows the traveler unlimited use of the Metro, Bus, RER, Tramway, Orlyval, Montmartrobus, Noctilien and Funicular de Montmartre and, in addition, small discounts are obtained in some attractions, among others, the Opera, the cruise the Seine or the tourist bus.

The Paris Visite card is available in periods of 1, 2, 3 and 5 days. For the calculation of days, full days are counted, so the first day is counted when we use it for the first time, regardless of the time.

It must be completed with your last name, first name and date of use in order to use it and, of course, it must be validated before any trip.

VALIDITY1 DAY2 DAYS3 DAYS5 DAYS
Zone 1-313.55€22.05€30.10€43.30€
Zone 1-528.50€43.30€60.70€74.30€
Prices 2023

The Paris Visite pass is considerably more expensive than the Navigo, so it is not recommended, especially for passes of more than one day.

NEXT ENTRY

Short history of Paris

It is known that already during the Chassean period (4000 and 3800 BC) there was a permanent settlement in the current Bercy district. This is attested by the remains of three canoes found in an old branch of the Seine River dating from that period.

It is believed that the foundation of the city dates back to the years 250-200 BC. by the Gallic people of the Parisians (parisii) although the exact location of the first settlement is not known, although it is believed that it was on the Île de la Cité.

The Roman city extends on the left bank and on the Ile de la Cité; takes the name of Lutetia (Lutèce). At this time the city was a small city with barely 10,000 inhabitants, although it evolved thanks to river traffic.

The strategic position of Lutetia against the great invasions made it the place of residence of the Emperor Julian between 357 and 360, and then of Valentinian I in 365-366. It is at that time that the city takes the name of Paris.

In the year 508, after conquering most of Gaul, Clovis I made Paris his capital and established his main residence there (Palais des Thermes), and had several religious buildings built there, including the Basilica of the Holy Apostles, where he is buried

The eastern extension of the kingdom of the Franks under the reign of Charlemagne caused Paris to lose its privileged political position.

From the middle of the 9th century, it formed part of the territory of the Robertians, who took the title of Count of Paris.

In 885-886, besieged by the Normans, the city managed to successfully resist them, while preventing their access to the river. This episode brings great prestige to Paris and his Count Eudes, who helped in his defense. On the other hand, it marks a stage in the decline of the Carolingian Empire, having considered the behavior of Carlos the Fat during the events unworthy.

Robert the Pious had the Palais de la Cité and several abbeys restored, while Louis VI and later Louis VII established their court and chancery there. At the same time, the city prospered, becoming an important place for the trade in wheat, fish, and cloth, uniting Parisian merchants within a “house of water merchants” favored by Louis VII in 1170-1171.

It was Philip Augustus who made Paris the undisputed capital of the kingdom, over which he was the first of the Capetians to exercise strong control; this position was further strengthened during the reigns of Louis IX and Felipe IV “the beautiful”.

The city also became the symbol of royal power, which sought to endow it with buildings worthy of its rank: the Notre-Dame cathedral was completed around 1250, the Sainte-Chapelle which houses Christ’s crown of thorns in 1248, the Palais de la Cité was renovated and enlarged, and the Parisian market was covered and walled up (Halles). Paris continues to grow, the left bank was repopulated in the 13th century; at the beginning of the 14th century, its population was estimated at around 200,000, making it the most populous city in Europe.

In 1348, the city was first struck by the plague, which ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351; this evil then reaches him in a cyclical way for several centuries. During the Hundred Years’ War it was exposed to English attacks, which led Charles V to build a new wall on the right bank that included the suburbs. At the end of the war, Paris retreated behind its walls and its population was reduced to around 100,000 inhabitants, half that of a century before.

In 1528, Francis I officially established his residence in Paris. Under his reign, the city prospered and Paris reached 280,000 inhabitants and remained the largest city in the Christian world.

In 1677, King Louis XIV transferred his residence to Versailles and, five years later, the seat of government was also transferred. During his reign, the Sun King only came to Paris for official ceremonies, thus displaying a hostility towards the city that Parisians did not appreciate.

In 1715, the regent Philippe d’Orléans left Versailles for the Palais-Royal. The young Louis XV settles into the Tuileries Palace for a brief return of royalty to Paris. Starting in 1722, Louis XV returned to the Palace of Versailles, breaking the fragile reconciliation with the Parisian people.

Louis XV took a personal interest in the city in 1749 when he decided to develop the Place Louis XV (now Place de la Concorde), the creation of the military school in 1752 and, above all, the construction of a dedicated church at Sainte-Geneviève in 1754 , better known under the current name of Panthéon.

The French Revolution began in Versailles with the convocation of the Estates General but the Parisians, affected by the economic crisis, aware of the political problems due to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and moved by resentment towards the royal power that had abandoned the city for more of a century, gave it a new course.

The storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, linked to the uprising of the cabinetmakers of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, was a first step. On October 5, the riot, sparked by women in the Parisian markets, reached Versailles in the afternoon. On the morning of the 6th, the castle was invaded and the king had to agree to reside in Paris at the Tuileries Palace and convene the Constituent Assembly there, which moved to the Manège des Tuileries on October 19.

On July 14, 1790, the Fête de la Fédération took place on the Champ-de-Mars, a place that on July 17, 1791 was the scene of a dramatic execution. On the night of August 9, 1792, a revolutionary commune took possession of the town hall. On August 10, the crowd besieged the Tuileries Palace with the support of the new municipal government. King Louis XVI and the royal family are imprisoned in the tower of the palace. The French monarchy is de facto abolished. After the elections of 1792, the representatives of the Paris Commune, very radical, opposed the group of Girondins at the National Convention (representing the more moderate opinion of the middle class of the provinces) who would be isolated in 1793.

On January 21, 1793, Louis XVI was guillotined at Place Louis XV, renamed “Place de la Révolution.” He was followed to the gallows by 1,119 people, including Marie Antoinette, Danton, Lavoisier, and finally Robespierre and his followers on July 27, 1794.

On December 2, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte, who seized power in 1799, was crowned Emperor by Pope Pius VII in Notre-Dame Cathedral. He decided to establish Paris as the capital of his Empire and intended to make it the “new Rome”. For this he ordered the construction of the triumphal arches of the Star and the Carrousel, as well as the imperial palace of the Stock Exchange (completed under the Restoration) and the Vendôme column.

In 1814, the Battle of Paris led to the capitulation of the capital and then led to Napoleon’s first abdication and the Restoration. The Cossacks of the Russian army occupy certain points in the city. The allied armies leave the city after June 3, 1814, the date of the departure of Tsar Alexander I.

At the end of the Hundred Days, the fall of the Empire in July 1815 brought the English and Prussian armies to Paris, even camping on the Champs Elysées. Louis XVIII, back from his exile in Ghent, settled again in the Tuileries.

With the arrival of the Second Empire in 1852, Paris was radically transformed. From a medieval structure, with old and unhealthy buildings, almost devoid of important roads, it has become a modern city in less than twenty years. Napoleon III had precise ideas about urban planning and housing.

During the Belle Époque, the economic expansion of Paris is important; in 1913 the city had one hundred thousand companies that employed one million workers. Between 1900 and 1913, 175 cinemas were created in Paris, many department stores opened and contributed to the influence of the city of light. Paris then becomes the second international financial center almost on par with London.

Two universal exhibitions leave a great mark on the city, with the Eiffel Tower being built for the one in 1889 (on the centenary of the French Revolution), the city’s main icon. The first subway line, the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais and the Alexandre-III bridge are built in 1900.

From the Belle Époque to the Roaring Twenties, Paris experienced the height of its cultural influence (especially in the Montparnasse and Montmartre neighborhoods) and was home to many artists such as Picasso, Matisse, Braque, and Fernand Léger.

The interwar period took place in a context of social and economic crisis. After the bombings most of the city is in ruins.

During World War II, Paris is occupied by the Wehrmacht on June 14, 1940. As the Allied troops approach, the Resistance triggers an armed uprising on August 19, 1944. The Liberation of Paris took place on August 25 with the entry into Paris of General Leclerc’s 2nd Armored Division and Major General Raymond O. Barton’s US 4th Infantry Division.