Friday, September 01, 2006

Josefov and St. Nicholas' Church

Interior of the dome at St. Nicholas'

That's some good smiting, Ralphie

Painted ceiling in St Nicholas'

Interior of St. Nicholas' Church

View of the river from Charles Bridge

One of the statues on Charles Bridge

The Jewish Graveyard

Clock in the Jewish Quarter

Yesterday afternoon I went out to Josefov, the Jewish Quarter in Prague and toured around a few of the synagogues and the old Jewish graveyard. The graveyard is quite a sight - because the Jews weren't allowed any more land on which to bury their dead, the graveyard is crowded with hundreds of headstones, and people are apparently buried up to 7 layers deep. The various synagogues have been converted into museums covering different aspects of Jewish life. I didn't get the chance to go into all of them, but the ones I did were really interesting, covering aspects of Jewish religion, customs, daily life etc. One was a Holocaust memorial, where the walls were covered with the names of Jewish holocaust victims (not sure if it was from Prague alone or from the whole of Czech republic). Upstairs was an exhibit of drawings done by children in the Terezin (Thieresenstadt sp?) concentration camp. Terezin was used by the Nazis as a propaganda piece, to show that life in concentration camps wasn't that bad, hence the children were allowed to be educated to an extent, draw and put on musicals. Despite this, it was definitely a place of suffering, and most of its inhabitants were eventually transported to other camps further east and killed. It was a very moving place to be...

Today I went to St Nicholas' Church in Malostranke (the Little Quarter) which is the most over-decorated Baroque church going - frescoes, gilding, statues, painted ceilings etc. etc. Amazing place! I also went back down Charles Bridge and took photos of the statues, of which I think there are 36.

Metro report: The metro in Prague seems to be busy at all hours of the day, although never packed. Pleasant things to do on the metro include watching a czech couple in their 30s fully making out on a crowded train. Talk about get a room - make that get at least a foot of space around you before you get it on! Bitter, moi? Never! Also fun is when the middle-aged man behind you decides that the best way to get you to move out of the way so he can get off the train is to push you as hard as he can in the back of the knees with his bag. Pity I actually had nowhere to go except straight into the guy in front of me, which would likely have resulted in the guy in front of me going out the open doors of the train... And then said middle-aged man muttered something presumably uncomplimentary at me in Czech on his way out. Well, screw you too buddy!

PS You should see how crowded it gets around the Old Town Square clock on the hour (when the 12 apostles come out and do their thing). Also Charles Bridge v. crowded.

Things I forgot to say earlier:
There is a book vending machine at Heathrow Airport. Cool! Although, like vending machines everywhere, it only sells junk.
I also went to the National Gallery of Scotland whilst in Edinburgh - lots of big names - Rubens, Raphael, Rembrandt and also people whose names don't begin with 'r'. I must confess I was so tired I missed the gallery of Scottish artists - did I miss anything?

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