Continuing on this trip, we took a morning bus from Vienna to spend just one day and night in Prague. As it was too early to check in to our room, we stashed our things in our hostel luggage room and hit the ground running. Well, walking is probably more precise: started with a walking tour of the city, which started in the Old Town. First impressions: Hogwarts, castles, medieval architecture, fairy tales, tons of aesthetic inspiration for Disney, gah! Due to the exceptionally crazy, crowded Old Town Square and Christmas market, it was tough to stand in one place and get good photos while being shoved and squeezed past by hordes of tourists like myself.
The history and culture of Prague can be summed up as such: a city that has been occupied and changed hands more times than one can count, and despite being surrounded by bigger, stronger neighbors who are constantly claiming it for centuries, steadfast. 600+ years of fascinating history and folk-rebellion here. The Czech culture has been under attack, and the resulting self-preservation can be seen in examples such as the usage of the Czech koruna (crowns) rather than the euro.
The Nazis rolled in circa 1939 and occupied the city. They intended to make a Museum of An Extinct Race here and inadvertently ensured the preservation of Prague’s Jewish Quarter. At the Rudolfinum, which houses the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra (pictured below), there are statues of great composers along the top of the building, but the Nazis wanted any Jewish ones taken down. It’s too bad the cronies mistakenly destroyed Wagner’s statue (Hitler’s favorite, fyi) since they were going off of guesswork and assumed he was Jewish because of the size of his nose when they were really looking for Mendelssohn’s.
Ah, then we crossed the river and hiked up the steep and winding paths to Prague Castle. I don’t know what to say here. It’s a castle, the grounds are enormous, it’s beautiful.
Fun facts: the lighting of Prague Castle is brought to you courtesy of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. According to our tour guide, Prague has the second most disappointing attraction in Europe. Any guesses? It’s the hourly show of the astronomical clock. Don’t get me wrong, the clock itself is more than impressive, but the seconds-long cuckoo-ing at the top of the hour is not worth the crowds and anticipation. And the Czech Republic drinks the most beer in the world per person. Like in Germany, it’s legitimately cheaper than water.
We definitely missed things having spent only ten hours here, but we sure did enjoy our time in this beautiful city.