The Prague Astronomical Clock (Prague Orloj) Is Believed to Have Magical Powers:
One of the first stops that most tourists make on their visit to Prague is to see the Astronomical Clock or Prague Orloj in the Old Town Square. This grand old Prague clock was installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world. According to a local legend, ill fate will befall the city if the clock is neglected. Is it any wonder that after 600 years, the Astronomical Clock still ticks on!
The Prague Clock Does An Hourly Show
The Prague Astronomical Clock has an hourly performance, like the popular Glockenspeils in Germany. In the upper part of the astronomical clock, the 12 apostles appear every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. doing The Walk of the Apostles.
The four figures that flank the clock are also set in motion at the hour. These figures represent Vanity, Greed, Death and Pleasure, the four things that were despised during the period when the clock was made. Take a look at the figure on the left and you’ll see Vanity admiring himself in the mirror. Next to him is the stereotype figure of a Jew holding a bag of gold representing Greed. Moving to the right the skeletal figure of Death strikes the time on the hour. Next to Death is the Turk which represents pleasure and entertainment.
Astronomical Clock Features
Whilst visitors might find this little show entertaining, the Astronomical Clock itself has very complex mechanism and functions. The upper face has the Astronomical dial which includes four main moving parts: the Zodiac ring, an outer rotating ring, a Sun icon as well as a Moon icon which tells all kinds of times and positions of planets. For instance, the outer edge of the clock with the golden Schwabacher numerals indicate the Old Czech Time. The next set of golden Roman numbers next to the Schwabacher numerals are the timescale of a normal 24 hour day and indicate time in local Prague time. Then there’s the zodiac ring whic indicates the location of the Sun on the ecliptic, etc.
The lower face of the Astronomical Clock has a Calendar which was added in 1870.
There is an ancient belief that the Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock are sites with magical powers, and the magic of the Astronomical Clock continues to cast a spell on the millions of tourists who come to see this clock each year.
Map of Prague Old Town:
What about you? What are your thoughts on this subject?
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It dates back to the 13th century but its present appearance is mainly the result of aA vast redevelopment action undertaken between 1893 – 1913. Only aA few most significant buildings were saved, the living testimony of the history of Prague Jews which lasted for many centuries.
During your quiet Segway ride under the Powder Tower on your Prague Segway Tour, your private guide will be ready to recount you everything important about this gem. Usually in Prague, while standing on Segway, people yearn to drive further and rather wonder where their Segway trip will bring them, you can also learn about this monument a little more here.
In place of the Powder Tower, which is one of the few Gothic monuments of the native origin, had been until the late 15th century one of the thirteen castle towers, which protected The Old City; it was called the Horska, because by this way leaded to Kutna Hora, or also Odrana, apparently it was decrepit, protecting first the entrance into the city from the east side, but it also was part of the neighboring royal palace, which had been around places of today’s Prague Municipal House. There dwelt first King Wenceslas IV., then George of Podebrady and then, in his first years of reign the successor of George, Vladislaus Jagiellon. When during his reign there was being formed a new building instead of the older gate, somewhat laid to the east, and it happened that in 1475, the Prague bourgeoisie wanted, perhaps from gratitude that the new king also settled down in the city, not on Hradcany, then indeed dissolute, to build up the most beautiful tower. They entrusted the construction of its first to master Wenceslas, to whom, however, immediately the following year added bachelor Matthew Rejsek from Prostejov, who then took over the work itself. He also led the construction of the Powder Tower from arches of ground floor below to the main cornice; embody to this work an excellent piece of his art, which has been proved beyond the Prague, at Krivoklat and especially in Kutna Hora, where the chancel of St. Virgin Barbara with a church vault originates from him.
However the construction of Powder Tower after year 1484 was stuck, because the king Vladislaus this year moved from royal palace where it was shot on him, to Hradcany and let to build on the place once palace of Charles the whole new part of the castle, called Vladislavska, which is to present days the pride of late Gothic architectural art.
The work on the Powder Tower therefore dragged until 1508, when above the main cornice, moreover not entirely finished; the low tent roof was lifted, covered with bark. In 1592 to the north side of the tower was built the stone staircase, leading to the first floor, where the bridge connected the new tower with royal palace. And in this state, the Powder Tower stood over three hundred years, on the east and west sides richly decorated, but without the originally planned sculptures for which there were only prepared alcoves and different consoles with stone decorations.
The stone blocks of sandstone from Zehrovice, from which the tower was built, however lasted more than ornamental and figural decorations, which were mostly from finer and softer stone from Nehvizdy and from Cesky Brod. Therefore, when in the beginning of the 19 Century (1817) some pieces felt badly, and other threatened walkers, it was really about destroying and not destroying the entire tower. In addition, the construction on the north and south sides was not as free as it is today and seemed even a greater obstacle.
However, against the proposal of the Prague Council, the tower to be demolished, there were found some defenders of antique monuments and it was decided that the tower will remain, but its sculptural decoration should be removed. And it was indeed almost all, at least if more overhang, battered and hacked. Therefore all corner pillars, pinnacles with crabs its decorated, canopies, full of ornaments and others disappeared. Moreover, the wise fathers of city appointed to give a clock to the tower, to be at least of some use.
Such view to artistic monuments lasted with us until the second half of the 19th century, but when the echo of romanticism had finally penetrated to us and with it the reverence to the relics of medieval arts, many of these monuments, especially castles, which had hitherto maintained to 800 (eight hundred), were either too badly damaged by the ravages of time, or at the same time the direction, called purism, also penetrates to us with a renovation fever.
The word purism comes from the Latin adjective Purus, in Czech pure and its sense was that the builders, who are reported to purism, believed, that any memory of the Gothic style, if not completed, must be in the same style supplemented, or if completed in the Renaissance, Baroque, or empire, it is necessary in the interests of stylistic purity of it all non-Gothic outbuildings and accessories in the construction and decoration rid of, or to clean.
But it was a hard mistake, which made us irreplaceable damage, and so much more what we were on artistic monuments poorer than others nations. This purism, whose holder with us was mainly architect Josef Mocker, so a native of Citoliby near Loun, who asserted also with renovation of the Powder Tower, but although with many other buildings in Prague and the country, especially at Karlstejn and cathedral St. Vitus. Should be added, that purism was a European phenomenon, thus raged everywhere, but just that precipitated its downfall. But what it destroyed, we will never replace.
The renovation of Powder Tower was made in years 1876-1892 and the result was, that it lost its original appearance almost entirely, despite it on its construction there is, which at least in its glory remained preserved, something valuable, I think, in its sculptural decoration, although the vast majority of statues and sculptures are of the new origin. On the proposal of architect Mockr in 1882, the sculptors J.V.Myslbek, Jos. Maudr, Ludvik Simek, Bernard Seeling, Bohuslav Schnirch, Vaclav Stra-chovsky and Jindrich Capek were invited to participate in the work to complete the decoration of the Powder Tower. Except Josef Vaclav Myslbek and Josef Maudr, all of them met the proposal, moreover, later were invited J. Wild, brothers Duchacek, Ant. Prochazka and Karel Dvorak.
So from the original sculptural decoration was preserved very little indeed, there are several consols, some figural ornamentation, some of the characters and parts of arcs in the form of donkey’s backs, decorated mainly western and eastern sides of the tower. And one more thing can be added, namely that the Middle Ages were often naive and mischievous, even if formed the stonemason arts, and indeed if the Mocker paid close attention to preserved sculptural works, he would have had to notice that on the entire tower there is not a single statue of the saint, on the contrary, all the statues and scenes, which the Rejsek gave to carve or sculptured himself, are very free and mischievous, even lascivious positions and gestures. Just note that on the ground floor of the southeast corner the young man offers a pouch to girl, or on the west side, on the first floor, just below the (new) statue of Premysl II., there is the scene, where adolescent goes under girl skirts, but for it the girl patches him, of course. But Mocker took as an example the Old Town Bridge Tower, which imitated in the sculptural decoration of the Powder Tower.
The world’s first Mucha Museum, dedicated to the life and work of the world-acclaimed Czech ART NOUVEAU artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), is housed in the Baroque Kaunicky Palace in the very heart of Prague. A selection of over 100 exhibits comprising paintings, photographs, charcoal drawings, pastels, lithographs and personal memorabilia provides a privileged view into the universe of the artist who is most widely known for the posters he executed for Sarah Bernhardt in the fashionable world of fin-de-siecle Paris.
Our gallery was established in 2002, in Prague – Mala Stana. It is situated in a picturesque 14th century courtyard, only a few steps away from the Charles Bridge. Even though we are a relatively new gallery, we have managed to become a part of the local visual arts scene. The gallery is frequently visited not only by art lovers and connoisseurs, but also by visitors who have grown tired during their sightseeing tours, and wish to cheer up their soul in our tranquil sanctuary.
Enjoy a Range of Concerts in Historic Prague Churches:
Prague is a city with a reputation for classical music and many of these classical concerts take place in the intimate settings of historic Prague churches.
Historic Prague Churches
Many of the Prague churches are steeped in history such as St Georges Basilica, once the official resting place for the Premyslid dynasty. St Georges Basilica is also one of the oldest and best preserved Romanesque Prague church buildings. St Francis of Assisi Church has the second oldest organ in Prague and one which great masters like Mozart, Dvorak and Seger have all played on.
Christmas in Prague
Many of these Prague churches have very good acoustics and are regular venues for classical concerts. If you are spending Christmas in Prague and wish to enjoy some classical music, Prague’s beautiful churches are ideal venues.
Below is a list of some magnificent churches in Prague where classical concerts are held.
|Concerts in Prague Churches|
|Church of St Simon and St Jude (Kostel sv Simona a Judy)
The Church of St Simon and St Jude stands on land on which a hospital once stood in 1354. As a result of the hospital, a chapel was necessary and hence the Kostel sv Simona a Judy was built. The church was expanded over the years until at one stage it nearly matched St. Vitus Cathedral in size.These days the Kostel sv Simona a Judy is home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
|Church of Our Lady of the Snows
Founded by Charles IV in 1347, the Church of Our Lady of the Snows was originally a Gothic church of the Carmelites. When the church was given to the Franciscan order in 1606, it was renovated in the Renaissance style and after 1649 it was renovated in the early Baroque style.Its main altar, at 29m high, is the largest in Prague.
|Church of St Joseph (Kostel sv Josefa)
The Church of St Joseph was built between 1636-1653 as part of a Capuchin monastery. Located in Republic Square, its architecture is quite plain.
This Lutheran church was built from 1611-1614. After the 1689 fire, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style. The tower was added in 1720 and later decorated with rococo stucco. Due to political events, the ownership of St. Salvator changed hands a few times. In 1863 it was sold to Czech Evangelists and today the “Czech Brothers Evangelist Church” congregates at St. Salvator.
|St Francis of Assisi Church (Svaty Frantisek z Assisi)
The unique Baroque organ in St Francis of Assisi Church is perhaps as famous than the church itself. Built in 1702, it is the second oldest organ in Prague. The great masters like Mozart, Dvorak and Seger have all played on this famous organ.The main nave at St Francis of Assisi has an unusual floor which enhances the acoustics of the church. St Francis of Assisi is fine venue for Prague concerts.
|St Georges Basilica (Klaster sv. Jiri na Prazskem hrade)St. Georges Basilica is one of the oldest and best preserved Romanesque Prague church buildings. Until 1055, the Basilica was the official resting place for the House of Premyslid. Several Czech princes of the Premyslid dynasty, including Prince Vratislav, are buried in the Basilica. Their tombs can be seen in the main nave.|
|St Martin in the Wall ChurchAs its name indicates, this beautiful church in the Old Town is dedicated to St Martin. When the city walls were built in the 13th century, the south wall of the church backed onto the Old Town Wall, hence the name St Martin in the Wall.St Martin was originally built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century and its current Gothic style is the result of reconstruction in the 14th to 15th centuries.|
|St Nicholas Church (Svaty Mikulas)
This stunning church in the Old Town Square is the most important Baroque structure in Prague and a familiar part of the city’s skyline.An important feature of this church is its frescoes. In the ceiling of the main nave, on the cupola and on the church’s gallery are important works by famous painters. Also of note are the many sculptures that adorn the church.
|St Salvator ChurchLocated in the Old Town Square, St Salvator was original built in Gothic style, but Baroque features were added during the final stage of its construction. This church has two magnificent organs and classical concerts are held here throughout the year.Somewhat ironic are two individuals buried in the crypt under the church: Father Konias was the destroyer of Czech books and Bohuslav Balbin, the defender of the Czech language.|
For the list of all Classictic concerts in Prague, see HERE.
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The Royal Route is the Processional Coronation Route Taken by Czech Kings:
Since the coronation of the first Czech king in 1086 and up to the coronation of the last Czech king in 1836, all have travelled the processional route to their coronation. This processional route has come to be known as the Royal Route and today it is one of Prague’s most popular and beautiful sightseeing route.
The Royal Route
In the past, when the king had more than just a ceremonial role, the crowning of a king was a very important event in the lives of the people. The coronation ceremony was a very elaborate affair, involving many customary practices and days of festivities.
St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle is where the coronation of Czech kings have mostly taken place and the Royal Route is the traditional path to the coronation.
Although the streets and street names were not what they are today, the processional route has generally left from where the Republic Square is today. The procession then proceeded to the Old Town, across the Charles Bridge to the other side of the river. It then travelled to the Lesser Quarter Town Square, then through Nerudova Street and up to Pohorelec, making its way to the Strahov Monastery. From there it continued to Hradcany Square to St Vitus Cathedral, where the actual coronation ceremony took place.
Sightseeing in Prague
To learn more about Bohemian history and walk in the footsteps of Bohemian kings, you can join a guided walk of the Royal Route and take in sights like the Powder Gate, Wenceslas Square, the Municipal House, the Old Town Square, the Lesser Quarter Square, Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
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The Spanish Synagogue is Home of the Jewish Museum, the Most Visited Prague Museum:
The Spanish Synagogue (Spanelska Synagoga) in Prague sits on a site that was previously the Old Shul, the oldest Jewish temple in Prague (circa 12th century). When the Jews were expelled from Spain during the reign of the Catholic monarchs, one group found shelter in Prague. The Old Shul was given to them as a place of worship and from that time on, it was also called the Spanish Synagogue.
In 1868, the Old Shul was demolished and replaced with a neo-Moorish building whose architectural style is a reminder of the golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. The new synagogue was equipped with the latest technology of that time, with an emphasis on good acoustics as temple music and singing were held here frequently. Frantisek Skroup, the composer of the Czech national anthem, served as organist here between 1836-45.
The new Spanish Synagogue has a central, square floor plan which is bounded on three sides by raised galleries which open onto the main nave. Its interior walls, doors and gallery balustrades are richly decorated with elaborate Moorish polychrome, gilded motifs and stained glass. Although the interiors were restored in the 1950s, the building had to be closed in 1979 due to structural problems. It was after a long delay of almost 20 years before the reconstruction was carried out and the building re-opened.
Jewish Museum in Prague
Today the Spanish Synagogue is one of the six locations for the Jewish Museum (Zidovske muzeum v Praze), the most visited museum in the Czech Republic. The Museum has one of the most extensive collections of Jewish art in the world and artefacts and books which tell of the life and history of Jews in the region. If you are interested in learning more about the Jewish quarter and Prague’s Jewish history, there is a Walking Tour of Jewish Prague that you can join which includes entry to the Jewish Museum.
Music at the Spanish Synagogue
With its long history of hosting music, the Spanish Synagogue also offers a diverse programme of classical and contemporary music. With its stunning golden interiors and good acoustics, the synagogue is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy some concerts in Prague. See what’s on at the Spanish Synagogue Here.
How to get to the Spanish Synagogue:
The Spanish Synagogue is located in the centre of Prague, on the corner of Dusni and Vezenska Streets . You can get there by Metro: Staromestska (line A).
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One of the most valuable buildings of the “Prague Baroque” period with aA dominant dome and the belfry (architects K. Dienzenhofer, K. I. Dienzenhofer, A. Lurago, 1704 – 1756).
National cultural monument, the symbol of more than millennial development of the Czech state. Since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century it has been developing uninterruptedly throughout the past eleven centuries.