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Day 4: Wednesday, July 13, 2022 – Prague Castle

We are still struggling with jet lag and slept until 10. After a quick bowl of cereal, we head out to Cafe Louvre for lunch.

Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud dined here.

Man Hanging Out

During his life, Sigmund Freud suffered from a number of phobias, including the fear of his own death. Artist David Černý, whose work can be found throughout Prague, chose to depict the psychoanalyst in his constant struggle with this trepidation. Unexpected and eye-catching, Man Hanging Out has often been mistaken for a real person and has prompted calls to the city’s fire and police departments.

On the way over to Prague Castle, we crossed the “Spitting Bridge”. In 1960, one could see where the biggest statue of Stalin was erected. It towered over the city. 

The statue used to be where the red “metronome” is now.

People thought that it looked like they were standing in line, a common event in communist countries.

Whenever people would cross the bridge, they would spit at it. Its sculptor and his wife committed suicide before it was unveiled.

Khrushchev hated Stalin and quietly told the people of Prague to get rid of it. It was bombed for days.

People asked what happened and the communists said that they didn’t know what you were talking about. “What statue?” If you showed them a picture of the statue, you would be sent to Siberia!!

Finally, to our destination. Prague Castle is 750,000 square feet and has five buildings with different styles from different historic time periods. It took 1048 years to build from 880 -1929. The castle has always been the seat of the rulers.

Prague Castle is built like a small city, but no one lives here. They only work here. There are 800 castle guards. In fact one out of twenty in the military is a castle guard. (Maybe America should have this many Capital Guards.)

Spanish Hall is the finest room in the castle. It is for entertaining dignitaries and we weren’t allowed to see it. The President of Israel was here two days ago. Czech Republic is currently presiding over the EU. The presidency of the EU Council rotates among the EU member states every 6 months. Many people work here in Prague Castle, but no one lives here. The presidential flag with the coat of arms is flown when the president is in residence. It say “Truth Prevails”!!!

St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and most important church in Prague. It is a functioning church and not a museum. There are three masses on Sundays, two on Friday and one every day.
Ferdinand V was a protestant king for one year which gave him the name The Winter King. He changed the church to a Calvinist Temple.
Within the church, there is a chapel where the kings are crowned. The tomb of Wenceslas is located within these walls.

Wenceslas, and yes, he is the subject of the Christmas Carol entitled “Good King Wenceslas” was assassinated by his younger brother. They are not sure if it was on purpose or an accident because it was after a night of drinking. Bad things usually happen like that. He brother was called Boleslaus the Cruel so it sounds like it was not brotherly love.

Wenceslaus was so admired. There is even a large city square named for him.
Saint Ludmila, grandmother of Wenselaus, was strangled by her scarf and is always depicted with a scarf around her neck!

In 1618, two Protestants threw two Catholics out of the windows of the Bohemian Chancellery. This event marked the beginning of the Bohemian Revolt, the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War.

Throwing someone out a window was fairly common way of killing someone back then. There is even a name for it: defenestration.

When the Catholics were thrown out of the window, they actually landed in a pile of animal dung which saved their lives. However, the Catholic church did not want to tell what actually happened and said that the Virgin Mary caught them in the air. This piece of church propaganda started the cult of worship of Mary according to our guide.

On June 21, 1621, the most famous revenge executions took place by the Habsburgs by chopping off the heads of Bohemian Protestants who revolted. X marks the spot. During the war, 30,000 people were killed. Executions were held on Sundays at 2:00pm. Heads were hung on the towers and bodies were dragged around town as a deterrent.

The Hapsburgs were Catholic when they came into power. In 1620, ninety percent of Prague was Protestant. By 1635, citizens of Prague needed to be Catholic. If not, they were to leave the country. There was a large mass migration. The name has changed. We now call them refugees or those seeking asylum.

The Crown Jewels can be viewed for 10 days every five years. The next time will be Spring 2023. Mayor, priest, president, and other important dignitaries will be present. (FYI: Their President cannot be reelected.)

Here is where you will see the jewels. The ceiling is vaulted for fire prevention. Furnishings were taken away. Horses were allowed in here as well.

Everyone will know this building from the TV. People are in a queue to see the jewels for 4-5 hours.

St. George Square has the most different architecture from different centuries.

The Golden Lane was a lot of tiny lean-to houses that rose up along a newly formed high wall. It got its name as alchemy was attempted here. That is ironic because it was inhabited by extremely poor people. I guess it would like like the poor playing the lottery today.

We went up on the wall and viewed the holes for firing upon invaders and a torture chamber. Yikes! I often look for a place to sit down, but in this case I think I’ll pass!

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