By Author John Purtell
Prague is a beautiful old city in the Czech Republic. It was largely undamaged in World War II, so it’s full of original history and character. It was founded in the 9th century, but really grew in the 14th century when many of the current structures were built. The city itself has about 1.3 million people, making it just a bit bigger than Charlotte, North Carolina.
Like many European cities, many of the streets are reserved for pedestrians during the day and evening. Delivery trucks often come late night to stock the businesses. There are cafes and shops on the sidewalk. It’s a nice change from cars everywhere in American Cities.
The remarkable Prague Astronomical Clock is one of the biggest tourist attractions in town. It was first installed in 1410; it’s the oldest functioning clock in the world. Imagine what a project it was to build such a complex thing with only the tools available at the time! Many of the statues and decorations around it were added in later centuries. There is a legend that if it ever falls into disrepair or stops bad things will happen to Prague.
Here’s a graphic of some of the functions. There are marching apostles in the blue doors above the clock, and animated skeleton on the right, and all sorts of things that aren’t mentioned here.
There are a great many ancient churches and cathedrals. The architects were really into steeples. They are a big part of the town’s character.
Saint Vitas Cathedral
The St. Vitus cathedral is very impressive. It was started in 1344. They had financial problems and it wasn’t totally finished until the 19thcentury. It took almost twice as long to build has the age of the USA. It had temporary walls for much of that time, so it was usually in service.
The Charles Bridge must have been a high priority project. Construction started in 1347 and only took fifty years to complete. It crosses the Vitava (Moldau) River. It’s a major tourist destination and entirely for pedestrians. It’s also a favorite place of business for pick-pockets.
The bridge and river were the inspiration for classical composer Bedrich Smetana to write his famous music “The Moldau.” It seemed to play more or less constantly from a lot of speakers along the river. Here it is on YouTube, with a romanticized graphic of our bridge.