Monday, June 30, 2014

Our last day in Prague and our last day in Europe; how bittersweet!  Petr definitely saved the best for last and took us to the Prague Castle for our final hoorah.  The castle is huge (like every other beautiful building in Prague that we’ve seen) and the castle grounds are composed of many different buildings!  We started off in the most beautiful one; St. Vitus Cathedral.  It’s the biggest church or cathedral and upon building it, King Charles the 4th was aiming to make Prague one of the largest cities in Europe.  He was successful in making it the 4th largest!  King Charles the 4th left a great mark on the city of Prague, hence the famous Charles Bridge named after him.  Every step we took around the cathedral was accompanied by an “oooo” or an “ahhh” or a “woah, look at that!”  You’ll see in my pictures the biggest most intricate stained glass windows on almost every wall of the castle.  The windows were added later on in the 1800’s because the Protestants took over the cathedral for a couple years and destroyed all of the decorations.  King Charles originally hired an architect from France to design and build the cathedral but he died in the middle of the process so King Charles was forced to find someone to replace him.  The replacement that he hired redesigned everything from the ground up and was said to be a genius with stonework.  Guess how old he was?  22 years old!
As we kept walking through the cathedral I noticed gold writing and symbols on marble slabs under my feet. Petr proceeded to tell me that the royal family was buried under my feet! Nowadays it can be seen as disrespectful to walk on people’s graves but back then it was considered respectful and many believed it cured toothaches too.  Oh how times have changed!  As we rounded the back of the cathedral we came upon a large, gorgeous, detailed tomb with statues of angels and a man with a halo made of 5 stars.  It was the tomb of St. John the priest, buried there in honor of his bravery.  He was honored for his bravery because the King at the time had a wife that he wasn’t fond of and she was allegedly “having an affair.”  Rumor has it that she told the priest in the confessional that she was having an affair but the priest wouldn’t tell the king.  The king got so upset with the priest that he had him tortured and killed.  The king then realized he had gone too far and wanted to dump the priest’s body in the river but somehow he was stopped.  Now the priest has the most beautiful tomb in the castle grounds.
Another cool thing about the cathedral is that the Czech crown and jewels are kept there in a chamber, protected from light and humidity.  (The crown pictured is a replica) Only 7 very important people possess keys to the chamber and if the chamber is to be unlocked, all 7 must be present.  Petr told us this happens, at most, once every 5 years. 
After the cathedral we went to a couple other smaller buildings including the Old Royal Palace which was the biggest vaulted hall in Europe.  This building was used as a meeting place when important decisions needed to be made.  I liked the building but it was very bare because of a fire in 1541 which burned all of the furniture and everything in it.  We finished the tour with the dungeon and torture devices used; talk about cruel!  The castle grounds had the most amazing view of the city.  It was the type of view that can’t even be captured in a picture because it does no justice.  It was such a great ending to an amazing trip.  I’m going to miss everyone and this has been the most wonderful experience of my life!

No comments:

Post a Comment