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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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