King of the Castle

day two

So last time we left off, I left you hanging with this little picture here:

Overview of Prague, and yup, that's the Charles Bridge!

Overview of Prague, and yup, that’s the Charles Bridge!

Not very nice, I know, but there is just SO much to tell you all about that I want to make sure that I don’t miss anything. So, here we go!

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Our second full day was a Saturday, so all four of us roamed the city together and our first stop was Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. And if you’ve ever been to Prague, you know that these structures are visible from just about anywhere in town (it sits up on a hill so it has incredible views of most of the city). After we purchased our tickets (we wandered around a bit…) we took our first look into St. Vitus Cathedral (we went after lunch and had no wait to get into the cathedral at all…it was pretty nice).

DSC_0885I was a little sad that the scaffolding was up, but the blue tarp we saw when we walked the grounds the night before was gone- you win some you lose some I suppose!

DSC_0916The view inside was absolutely stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much stained glass in one place before. Each and every section had it’s own stained glass, not including the rose window at the back and the massive stained glass windows at the front! You were soaked in a multitude of colors as you walked by each one, it was pretty spectacular.

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I thought it was massive on the outside, but boy, oh boy, it didn’t prepare me for how cavernous it was on the inside!

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Rose window at St. Vitus Cathedral

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They had a special section for Saint John Paul II since he was just canonized not too long ago. Apparently he had visited St. Vitus at some point in time.

Seeing the cathedral and it’s enormity, I suddenly understood why it literally tool thousands of years to complete this church (the cathedral construction began sometime in the 1300’s, but the rotunda began in the 900’s! The 900’s!

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Tomb of John the Nepomuk, saint of the Czech Republic who was drowned in the Vltava…

The tour of the cathedral took you clockwise around the cathedral (everything was in Czech so we didn’t take too much away from it, other than how intricate and ornate the stained glass and effigies were). Towards the back of the church, behind where the priest gives his sermon, is the tomb of John of Nepomuk. This stood out immediately from the rest of the cathedral- it’s hard to miss an entire tomb of silver with silver cherubs and urns hanging from the ceiling, but that’s just me.

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Chapel of St. Wenceslas (sorry the picture is a bit blurry, it was pretty dark and they don’t allow flash)

As you start to finish up the tour, you come across a room about halfway through your trek back that is the Chapel of St. Wenceslas (we overheard a private tour of the cathedral, that’s how we figured that one out…) Apparently, St. Wenceslas’s remains are kept there (although there is some debate about that… but we won’t get into that here…).

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But partly what makes this whole cathedral special to me isn’t that it took a ridiculously long time to complete, or that the remains of John the Nepomuk and St. Wenceslas are kept there, it’s because it’s what they call a Royal Cathedral, meaning that coronations took place here, as well as where the royal families buried the remains of their families- not just of Bohemian Kings and Queens, but of Holy Roman Emperors as well! It’s also where the Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept, but we’ll get to those in a minute. It’s a pretty impressive site if you ask me! Apparently they still hold services at St. Vitus, unlike some of the other historical churches in town, which now serve as concert halls for classical church music.

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But what we did next was pretty spectacular as well… We climbed to the top of the tower of St. Vitus Cathedral! 284 spiral steps to the top! Being afraid of heights, I was a little skeptic at first, but Josh reminded me that I might not get the chance to do it again, so I went. Up, and up, and up we went! It seemed to take forever, but the view was totally, and completely worth it!

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The other towers seemed close enough to touch!

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I loved that we could see the Charles Bridge from the tower, it’s just perfect to me!

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And we could see St. Nicholas, I’m hoping to go in to St. Nick this weekend when we return to Prague.

The views were absolutely stunning. It took my breath away- and no, it wasn’t the height! It was worth climbing all those steps up that tight staircase- we even told fellow travelers on their way up that the view was worth it!

DSC_0987Our next stop was to tour the inside of the castle! This is the structure that is built around the cathedral so we only saw a very small part of the castle itself, but what we saw was plenty- heck, it took us all afternoon to go through the castle!

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Banquet Hall at Prague Castle

The first room we walked into was a massive banquet hall that the royal family used for parties, showcases, and that sort of thing. Apparently, the walls used to be painted with the family tree of the royal family, but it hadn’t been preserved so it was no longer visible. Also, the tours in the castle all had English translations, so we weren’t quite as lost on these tours, which was a huge plus for us!

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Replicas of the Bohemian Crown Jewels.

The next room, called Diet Hall, yes, Diet Hall, was where we saw the replicas of the Bohemian Crown Jewels. We later learned that these are only on display once every eight years, so not a whole lot of people get to see the real deal, but these gilded replicas were pretty impressive all the same. Those jewels on there (they’re actually made of glass…)? They were the size of baseballs. Okay, maybe not baseballs… maybe over-sized golfballs… either way, they were huge! I couldn’t even imagine seeing the actual ones…

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Yep, those are family crests all over the ceiling of one of the rooms… can you imagine painting all of those?!

Even though we only saw parts of the castle (it’s the largest ancient castle in the world, by the way, did I mention that little tid bit?), I can hardly believe that people actually live here! It’s where the current Czech head of state resides, and where pretty much every head of state before him lived as well. There is so much to see, I feel like you could spend an entire lifetime here and not experience all of it.

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When we were done in the castle, we made our way to Golden Lane. Which is just a little road along the castle wall with the teeny-tiniest little houses you have ever seen! It was pretty adorable if I say so myself! This is where some of the skilled workers lived- like goldsmiths, a seamstress, there was even a house set up for a fortune teller lived!

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I’m not that tall, but some of the door ways I couldn’t even stand up in!

They also had a military outpost along the wall, for protection from any outside enemies (oh, and a dungeon, too, but we skipped that part), but I thought Golden Lane was wayyyyy cooler. I could hardly believe that people used these little dwellings as homes, the neighborhood only had one facility for the majority of it’s existence (the last occupant left in the 1920’s I think…)! That’s a little too much to ask, if you ask me anyway!

St. Vitus Cathedral at night.

St. Vitus Cathedral at night.

Between the monastery and the cathedral, I couldn’t tell you which I thought was more beautiful. They are both truly one of a kind and I feel so blessed to have been able to experience them myself. I really couldn’t ask for a better first trip to Europe, I really couldn’t.

We’ve done a bit of traveling since we left Prague, so next week it’ll all be about some of the countryside of the Czech Republic, which, if you’ve never seen, is quite gorgeous.

I can’t believe our trip is already half over… I want to get home, but I don’t want to leave at the same time! Ever feel that way about a place? It’s a new one for me… but when we get back, we’ve got lots of work to do and some pretty big announcements to make so make sure you stay tuned!

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