Monday, January 21, 2013

Prague - The Castle Thingy

The Prague Castle's pitch should be "We Have Wine."
According to its official website, "The Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880 by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci)."

At least they fully admit that the facts surrounding the history of its origins are up for debate. Full disclosure! We have no idea how or why this giant castle appeared! But it's awesome!

Our first full day in Prague, we woke up disturbingly early and were out on the streets, breakfasted and bundled up, well before 9am. Blame it on the jet lag. (We had also already had our first mulled wine of the day by this point too - WHATEVER, WE WERE ON VACATION.) This turned out to be a fortuitous turn of events, because we figured out a little later in the day that things get EXTREMELY crowded after, oh, say 11am. 

The castle is located across the bridge from Old Town, and is an easy walk. In fact, most everything is an easy walk in Prague. Distance-wise. Terrain-wise, everything is cobblestones. Which is fun and beautiful and extremely painful on the ole' feet after several days of traversing a city. Wear comfortable shoes. Seriously.

The castle is one of those old-fashioned all-inclusive type deals, meaning there's a giant wall and inside the wall is essentially a small city. You've got your church, your small merchants, your local eccentric woman accused of witchcraft. Disney is mad they didn't think of it first.

And - the best part - there are approximately 47 small stands selling mulled wine and hot rum and Irish coffee. I'm not sure what they sell in warmer weather. Maybe beers and mai tais. 

There is a lot to see once inside the castle walls, and you do need to purchase tickets to get into some of the buildings. We selected the "short visit" option which gets you into St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica, and Golden Lane with the Daliborka Tower. "Short visit" tickets are about $13 apiece (250 czk). You can opt for the "long visit" tickets for 100 czk more (about $18 total per person) and see everything in the castle, but that's only if you're really taking the entire day to see the castle. 

We were there for a few hours, and that was plenty for us. The Gentleman can spend hours upon hours in exhibits, reading every plaque, but I get anxious and cranky if I'm in one place for too long. Because I'm a toddler while on vacation that needs to be fed, napped, and liquored up at regular intervals. Apparently.

And now, some awesome gargoyles:

And some delightful St. Vitus Cathedral facade: 

St. Vitus Cathedral is equally badass on the inside, although it's freezing. I suppose a giant structure made of stone doesn't retain heat particularly well when it's 25 degrees outside. But it does retain awesome. Behold:

My ride is here.

I want this over my bed. 
"Pssst...girl, you seriously got it GOING ON."

I would like this for my birthday. Please and thank you.
I'm not sure what I was supposed to be honoring or observing here, but it was purty.
The Golden Lane is this incredible alley way with little shops and houses. I was walking around with my mouth open like a codfish because it was so adorable and amazing and forgot to take any pictures, but here's the general idea

UPDATE: My buddy Beth sent me this picture, which she took while on vacation with her husband in Prague last summer: 

Unreal cuteness. Photo courtesy Beth!
One of the homes that they've preserved and set up as an exhibit belonged to a film collector who carefully cataloged a bajillion old Czech films and had a collection of film posters like this one:

The real love story of a man, his woman, and the creepy peasant ghost lady that followed them around.
Among other things that I neglected to take pictures of was the home belonging to a woman who claimed to be a fortune teller and was arrested and tortured in the 1940's by Gestapo because she said she foresaw Germans losing the war. She had, among other things, stuffed owls and a collection of curiosities. It was pretty cool. I should have taken a picture. But I didn't.

Another totally awesome thing (that I neglected to take a picture of) was the famous window involved in one of the Defenestrations of Prague. Which is, by the way, the best thing you could name an altercation in which one or more parties was thrown out of the window. There are woodcuts of the incident in 1618 (see - I didn't even need to take a picture, here is one for you!) which concerned a row between Catholics and Protestants and, basically, things got out of hand and the Catholics were thrown out of the window. They all survived, though, and it was all miraculous and whatnot.

We saw a bunch of other stuff in the castle, including a collection of armor (with lots of protective cod pieces), a bunch of medieval torture things, sample old peasant gowns and robes of the aristocracy, and then I got to shoot a crossbow.

It's a lot harder than it looks, it has terrible inaccurate sites, and I'm not surprised that armies abandoned this technology in favor of things like boiling oil.
Prague is full of surprises and fun, and we were delighted to discover that right outside of the castle, there is a vineyard on the hillside overlooking the city. Is that not just perfection?


A word to the wise, however - this is not...shall we say...the best wine. In fact, it's rather, um...tart. Young. A bit sour on the way down. But it's wine, and so we drank it anyway.
The pink one is The Gentleman's. I am not even kidding. 
We didn't spend a ton of time at the castle, and I'm sure there was a lot more we could have/should have done. But, as I said before, it got insanely crowded after about 11am, and along with my ADD tendencies while on vacation I also can't stand waiting in long lines, or being jostled around while trying to look at interesting things. It was also freezing cold, and so we ducked out to go and find lunch. Which means the next post should probably be about food, because that is my most favorite part of vacation.

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