|Subject: Re: Sightseeing in Prague|
Besides the usual sightseeing the following i found exceptionally wonderful.
Go to an opera at either the state opera house, Wilsonova 4, 2422-9437 (muzeum exit of A or C subway, exit station direction stat oper and bear to the right about a block down) or the National Theater, Narodndi 2,2491-3437 (Narodni trida exit from subway B, or Narodni Davidlo stop from trams 18, 22, 23). Most expensive seat is $24, and you can get much cheaper ones. They both take you back to the Victorian era and you wish you were wearing formal attire as you enter their elaborate Baroque interiors. They make our theaters seem quite sterile. At the National Theater I saw a patriotic Czech opera. Since it was sung in Czech the subtitles were in English.
Also go to the Image theatre, Parizska 4 ( on a tree-lined street about a block from Old Town Sq. You can have dinner at U Karpu on Zatecki street, just couple of blocks from here). It was the most unusual, fascinating show I have ever seen. The costume and choreography appeared out of some science-fiction era. The stage is black, and the dancers are lit up in fluorescence as are their props which range from geometric figures to filmy material. It gives off a very etheric effect. In between acts is a slapstick comedy, mime routine. Quite a contrast to the sophistication of the modern dance acts. Tickets about $10.
To get away from the hordes of tourists take a picnic lunch to Vysehrad. It is atop a hill across the Vltava (Moldau) River from Prague Castle and started out as a castle in the 900s. When it was destroyed rebuilt as a fort in 1003. Wenselas II, when he became king, selected Vysehrad as his residence. Destroyed again in the 17th century by the Hussites, it is now a ruin, but walls of fortress, gate, and rotunda of St. Martin (the oldest of three still existing rotundas) remain. In addition there is a beautiful St. Peter and Paul's Church (founded in 1070), a cemetery where many of the Czech Republic's famous artists, composers and musicians are buried and the Vysehrad Museu, (in the New Deanery) housing the history of Vysehrad. It also has spectacular views of Prague and the river, rivaling the views from Prague Castle, and you don't have to compete with the crowds to get pictures, or worry about pick pockets. A wonderful place to spend a relaxing few hours. Getting there: From Wenselas Sq. Mustek subway station, take subway line C, direction Haje. Get off at Vysehrad. As you exit station keep going in a straight direction; road starts to go down a gentle slope and you are in a residential area, go through this til you get to ruins on your right. When you come back take C, direction Holesovice, exit Mustek. Open daily 8 am to 7 pm; winter 9 to 4, including Mondays. First Monday of the month, free entrance. Museum open daily 9:30-5:30. Admission 20 crowns (less than $1).
Krizikan Fountain at Exhbition Hall (L.D.S. 1/20 Vystaviste, Prague 7-Holesovice). A large rectangular fountain, a spectacular water works show as the water burst out of over 300 spouts, lit up in a rainbow of colors, dancing in rhythm to the accompanying concert and the oooohs of the crowd. It is not on every day and there are different concerts every hour. Go only to the 8, 9, 10 or 11 pm shows as that is when the lights are on. Phone (011-4202) 2010-3280 for days and schedule. Getting there: From city center take tram 12 (from Malostranske Sq.) or 17 or 18 (from Narodni Trida or National Theater stop, Narodni Davidlo), off at Vystaviste. You can see the big Exhibition Hall facade. Little over $5 admission.
Brevnov Monastery, Marketska 1, phone: 3335-1565, newly reopened after extensive restoration. Oldest monastery in Bohemia. Founded in 993 by Czech Prince Boleslaw and Prague Bishop Adalbert, as a Benadictine Order. The monastery's ornate Baroque Church of St. Margaret is a wonder to behold. The current church, a descendent from the original was built between 1709 and 1716. What makes this one particularly worthwhile is that you go through the whole monastery, not just the library and church as you do in most of them. You get to view the paintings and fabulous frescoes in the dining room, the audience hall, the quarters of the abbot as well as several other salons. The most spectacular Baroque room is the Pompeiian Hall, which you can rent for parties or weddings. The library, stretching across the whole north wing of the building features ceiling and wall frescoes from mid 18th century and houses 20,000 volumes on theology, history, philosophy and law. The tour includes a visit to the crypt where you view the remains of the first church as well as several human skeletons in their burial sites. The tour is given only in Czech, but you can buy a book describing the history and the rooms. Definitely worth a visit. Open only on Saturday and Sundays. Guided tours are at 9, 10:30, 1, 2:3;0 and 4. Getting there: Tram 8 from Republic Square, direction across the river or tram 22 from Molostranska Square, direction away from Bridge St. Off at Brevnovsky Klaster, third stop after Pyramid Hotel (stop after Drinopol). Yoco's is a good place to have a bite to eat before or after visiting the monastery. You can either walk back down the street (it will be on right side) or take tram one stop to Drinopol and walk down from there. One of joys of this site is you practically have it all to yourself so you can enjoy wandering around the grounds undisturbed.
Troja Castle, U Trojskeho zamku 1, open 10 to 6, every day except Monday, From April 1 to September 30. From October 10 to March 31 open Saturday and Sunday only 10-5. 100 crowns ($3) admission. Built in the late 17th century as an Italian villa. The magnificent ceiling paintings and frescoes, especially in the Great Hall, are worth a visit alone, besides the fact the castle houses the largest collection of 19th century Czech artists in the country. In addition they have recently added a collection of costumes from the 17th century to add to its appeal. To appreciate the layout and sophisticated details of the palace the visitor should view the edifice from the Vltava River and the park which was the original entrance. The formal gardens add to the grandeur. The castle, outbuildings and two orangeries display a high degree of craftsmanship in the fine inlay work on the doors, engraved door-knobs, parquet and marble floors forming ornamental patterns as well as richly decorated stucco ceilings and famous terracotta vases gracing the terrace. Troja is one of Bohemia's most valuable architectural landmarks. Getting there: From Wenselaus Sq. (Mustek station) take C subway, direction zoo. Get off at Zoo station. Go outside to bus stop and catch either the 112 bus or a bus that says posilova linki. The bus only runs between the subway station and the zoo/castle. Zoo on your right, castle across the street on your left. One of the joys of this site is there are no crowds; very few people seem to know of this treasure.
The St. Michael Mystery: Feel the History of Prague, Michalska 27/29; phone: 2281-8204. A block behind Old Town Square. Open 10 to 8, continuous performance lasting 45 minutes to an hour. It is a high-tech, multi-media show with sound and sometime images that surround you as you walk through Czech history; part of it reminiscent of the Haunted House in Disneyland. All the more poignant if you walk through alone as I did. You hear, in English, about Charles IV, who built new town, Charles University and the Charles stone bridge; John Hus who predated Martin Luther by several hundred years in denouncing the church. Through the sound you can feel the horror and fear as the Nazis rounded up the Jews and sent them off to the camps. After that you experience the takeover by the Russians, then the Prague Spring uprising of â##68 and finally the free Czech Republic after 1989; the ending being very upbeat.