Prague was the last stop on my whirlwind tour of Europe. Yes, I know I only hit three countries…but try traveling for 2 weeks straight (or for 20 some days straight as my traveling partner Emily did).
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. Again, another country that was under the Nazi and Soviet Union. So of course I was in heaven. The only bad thing: it was New Years and the WHOLE world was in Prague. Exhibit A:
Even with the crowds we were still able to enjoy Prague. And just like everyone told me, Prague was beautiful. I’m not going to lie, at first I was like “OK, this is Prague…but I don’t see what all the hype is.” That changed when we climbed up the hill to Petrin Tower (the mini Eiffel Tower). This was the view I got to see:
We also got to celebrate New Years Eve in Prague. Things that were quite different than in Minnesota. First, fireworks are allowed to be sold and bought in Prague (por supuesto…), I mean ALL types of fireworks. Not just little bottle rockets and poppers, I mean legit big up in the air fireworks. So starting at like 6 PM on New Years Eve people start shooting off their fireworks. It last until 4 AM in the morning. Here is a view from our balcony:
The city of Prague didn’t shoot their fireworks off until New Years day. Let’s just say they definitely had some competition. Also, another picture of the whole world wanting to see these fireworks.
Since the Czech Republic was also under the Soviet Terror like Hungary, we found a KGB (the soviet secret police) museum in Prague. We didn’t get a student discount, but OH MAN was the curator perfect. This was an unorthadox museum…we got to touch everything, try on uniforms, all the while the curator was telling the individual stories of each artifact.
A little history lesson for this post (come on folks, I AM A HISTORY TEACHER!). Before the Soviets came in, the Nazi’s were hanging out during WWII…we all know that story. Well the Soviets came in and kicked the Nazi’s out, but then decided they loved Czechosolvakia so much they decided to stay and take over. That wasn’t such a good time, many things went wrong. Lenin died in the U.S.S.R, and then Stalin came in and decided everything that Lenin did was WRONG. So he decided “Hey, I’m going to create this new type of government called Socialism where everyone works together and the State provides for everyone.” Well, some people didn’t like that because it kind of turned more to the Communist side, but don’t tell Stalin that. So those people were shipped off to labor camps called GULAGs to give them 15 to 20 years to think about what they said. After some time Stalin died, and the Czech Republic was born in 1993.
We also got to visit Prague Castle, which in itself is one of the most grand places I have visited. It is up on a hill (again, I ate too much apple strudel…) and over looks the city of prague. Prague Castle was found in the year of 880. Over time, chapels, churches, and St. Vitus Cathedral were built. In the 14th century the Holy Roman Empire reigned from Prague. For some period of time during the Hussite wars the castle was abandoned due to damage. It wasn’t until the Habsburgs were in power that the castle was renovated and inhabitable again.
Prague also has some very unique sights to see. One is the Astronomical Clock tower that is located in the heart of the old city. It was built in 1410, it is the third oldest astronomical clock in the world, and the oldest functioning one.
Another one is the Fred and Ginger House. At first I thought this was like a Gingerbread house or something (I seriously have an eating problem if that is the first thing that came to mind…), but it is the Nationale-Nederlanden Insurance building located by the river. It was built in 1992 and was finished in 1996. It is nicknamed that Fred and Ginger house after Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the famous dancing couple, because the building looks like a dancing pair.
Also located in Prague is the Spanish Synagogue. Now it’s still a Jewish Synagogue, it’s just decorated in a very Spanish way. The interesting thing about this synagogue is that it was suppose to be the Jewish Museum during WWII. Hitler and his friends decided that all of the possessions of the Jews that were being shipped to death camps were to come to this synagogue to be held as artifacts. So the Nazi’s made some of the most important Rabbi’s in Prague sort and take inventory of all the items being brought in. However, this museum was never to actually be made…these Rabbi’s were soon shipped out to Death Camps as well. Now, many of the artifacts that were found after the war are now displayed in this Synagogue (Many of the items were taken by looters before the end of the war). A note: Pictures were not allowed to be taken here, but honestly who stopped me?
The last unique sight is Charles’ Bridge. This bridge was finished during the 15th century and is on of the most important bridges in Prague. During that time it was the only bridge that connected Prague Castle to the Old Town and other areas. It was the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, and also became an important link in trade with the East and the West side of Europe.
And finally, maybe the most important part of the whole trip: The Christmas Market.
In the end, I was very happy to return back to Spain. I surprisingly missed many things about it. However, I did enjoy my time in Ireland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. It was a great learning experience, and worth every penny!