DEN VINCENT IN THE CITY OF PRAHA - Chekoslovakia
with Jeng Verina
Old Town Tower of the Charles Bridge entrance (restoration 2009)
Charles bridge, and on the right looking across the Moldau river to Prague Castle.
Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau), the Charles Bridge used to be the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle and adjacent areas until 1841. Also this 'solid-land' connection made Prague important as a trade route between east and west Europe. The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870.
Prague Castle in the background
The spires of St. Vitus's cathedral in
the background, and the boat on the Moldau
The historic center of the city developed in a broad valley on the banks and surrounding hills of the Vltava River. Many bridges link the two parts of the city. The most famous of these is the Charles Bridge, commissioned in the late 14th century by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, completed in the early 15th century and later embellished with statues of saints.
The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town Bridge Tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.
During the night Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.
Little Quarter Tower (entering Lesser Town)
The name translated into English literally means "Little Side", though it is frequently referred to as "Lesser Town", "Lesser Quarter", or "Lesser Side". This name derives from its position on the left (west) bank of the river Vltava, on the slopes just below the Prague Castle, in opposition to the larger towns of Prague on the right bank, to which it is conjoined by the Charles Bridge.
In the Middle Ages, it was a dominant centre of the ethnic German citizens of Prague. It also housed a large number of noble palaces while the right-bank towns were comparatively more bourgeois and more Bohemian Czech.
In the distant past, Malá Strana was called Malé Město Pražské (Lesser Town of Prague). Malé Město Pražské was created in 1257 by amalgamating a number of settlements beneath the Prague Castle, into a single administrative unit. This was done during the reign of Přemysl Otakar II. The newly-founded town got the permission to be a royal town, and many more privileges. The residents were mostly German craftsmen, invited by the King. Even though the city was royal, the King did not master the city as a whole. By the middle of the century the city was renamed Malá Strana.
The market place, now known as Malostranské náměstí, was a center of the town. Initially, this marketplace was divided on the upper and lower parts with a St. Nicholas Church on border.
As in most of Prague, the traces of Charles IV developments are seen in Mala Strana, one example is the Hunger Wall.
In 1541 the finest Charles' City was damaged by fires, and devastating wars. Mala Strana was mostly destroyed.
Baroque architecture predominates in Malá Strana, but the history of the district dates back to far before the Baroque era. Baroque architecture eventually dominated when the style became successfully implanted on Malá Strana after the district was devastated by fires in 1541.
The most extensive and unforgettable building of Baroque Era on Mala Strana, is an Albrecht von Wallenstein's palace. He was a military general in-chief of Emperor Ferdinand II. Under his order 26 new houses and old gates were built on the freed place. The extensive palace complex with five courtyards and the garden, which is set as a French Park.
The Churches are the most frequent and interesting developments on Mala Strana. The finest one and the most prominent in the St. Nish Church. This is a masterpiece of Christoph Dientzenhofer and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, father and son. The finest painting inside the church is an apotheosis of St. Nicholas, the defender of children, seamen, and wayfollowers. This painting is set in the dome of the church. It depicts an apotheos of Saint Trinity.
The famous statue of the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague is located in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana, Prague. The devotion and the church drew millions of Roman Catholic faithful to Malá Strana throughout the years.
The need for building a new bridge emerged after the old romanesque Judith Bridge (Juditin most, built around 1170 and named after king Vladislav I's wife Judith) was destroyed by a flood in 1342. The building began in 1357, was supervised by Peter Parler and led by a "magister pontis", Jan Ottl.
There is a modern legend saying that the foundation stone was laid in 1357 on the 9th day of the 7th month at 5:31 AM and that Charles IV chose this time so that when one writes out the opening time, they write the sequence of odd numbers, 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1.
The bridge was built from Bohemian sandstone. There is a legend saying that eggs were used to enrich the mortar used to bind the stone blocks to make it harder. Although the saying cannot be verified, modern laboratory tests have indeed proved inorganic and organic ingredients to the mortar. Later, the use of eggs in Charles Bridge mortar was confirmed. The construction of Charles Bridge took place until the beginning of 15th century. To sustain the bridge, tolls were taken, first by the religious order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, who had their mother-house nearby, then by the Old Town municipality (until 1815).
Throughout its history, Charles Bridge suffered several havocs and witnessed many historic events. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496 the third arch (counting from the Old Town side) broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water (repairs were finished in 1503). A year after the Battle of White Mountain, when the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed on 21 June 1621, the Old Town bridge tower served as a deterrent display of the cut-off heads of the victims to stop Czechs from further resistance. During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of Vltava and as they tried to advance into the Old Town, the heaviest fights spread out right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower (the side facing the river) and the remnants of almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from it afterward. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the bridge gained its typical appearance when an alley of baroque statues was installed on the pillars. During a great flood in 1784, five pillars were severely damaged and although the arches didn't break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.
Jesus on the cross
St. Barbara, St. Margaret and St. Elizabeth (1707)
On 2-5 September 1890, another disastrous flood struck Prague and severely damaged the Charles Bridge. Thousands of rafts, logs and other floating material that escaped from places upstream gradually formed a huge barrier leaning against the bridge. Three arches were torn down from the great pressure and two pillars collapsed from being undermined by the water, while others were partly damaged. With the fifth pillar, two statues - St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Xavier, both by Ferdinand Brokoff - also fell into the river (the former statue was replaced by a statuary of Saints Cyril and Methodius by Karel Dvořák, the latter was replaced by a replica of the original). Repair works lasted for two years (the bridge was reopened on 19 November 1892) and cost 665,000 crowns.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Charles Bridge saw a steep rise of heavy traffic. The 15 May 1905 was the last day of the horse-line on the bridge, as it was replaced with an electric tram until 1908 and with buses afterward. At the end of World War II, a barricade was built in the Old Town bridge tower gateway. A capital repair of the bridge took place between 1965 and 1978, based on a collaboration among various scientific and cultural institutes. The stability of the pillars was reassured, all broken stone blocks were replaced, the asphalt top was removed and all traffic has been excluded from the Charles Bridge since then, making it accessible by pedestrians only. The repair cost 50 million crowns.
During the 1990s, some people started criticizing the previous reconstruction of the bridge and proposing a new one. As of the beginning of the new millennium, most of the experts appeared to agree that the previous reconstruction had not been flawless but disputed the need for further interference with the bridge. However, after the disastrous floods of 2002 (which itself caused only minor harm to the bridge), it was decided that repair and stabilization of the two pillars (number 8 and 9) on the Malá Strana side of the Bridge would happen. These are the only river pillars that have not been repaired after the 1890 floods. The floods intensified the voices of the supporters of an overall bridge reconstruction and, as of 2005, the current repair of the pillars is considered as the first phase of the reconstruction, which will concentrate especially on building a new hydroisolation system protecting the bridge. The whole reconstruction will be done gradually without needing to close the bridge and is scheduled for the period 2007–2010.
The statue of John of Nepomuk. On March 20, 1393 he was thrown into the river Vltava from the Charles Bridge at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia.
The avenue of 30 mostly baroque statues and statuaries situated on the balustrade forms a unique connection of artistic styles with the underlying gothic bridge. Most sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714. They depict various saints and patron saints venerated at that time. The most prominent Bohemian sculptors of the time took part in decorating the bridge, such as: Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maxmilian.
Among the most notable sculptures, one can find the statuaries of St. Luthgard, St. Crucifix or St. John of Nepomuk. Well known is also the statue of knight Bruncvík, although it does not belong to the main avenue.
Beginning in 1965, all of the statues have been systematically replaced by replicas and the originals have been exhibited in the lapidarium of the National Museum.
The Jan Hus Memorial stands at one end of Old Town Square, Prague in the Czech Republic. The huge monument depicts victorious Hussite warriors and Protestants who were forced into exile 200 years after Hus and a young mother which symbolizes national rebirth. It was unveiled in 1915 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Jan Hus’ martyrdom. The memorial was designed by Ladislav Šaloun and paid for solely by public donations. Born in 1370, Hus became an influential religious thinker, philosopher, and reformer in Prague. Hus believed that Catholic mass should be given in the vernacular, or local language, rather than in Latin as well as many teachings of John Wycliffe. This did not go over well with the Vatican in Rome and Huss was ultimately condemned by the Council of Constance and burned at the stake in 1415.
Old Town, founded in the 13th century, and New Town, which developed in the 14th century, lie on the eastern bank of the river. Old Town contains many important architectural and artistic monuments, several of them situated on Old Town Square. A statue of John Huss (Jan Hus), the Bohemian religious reformer who instigated the Protestant Reformation in the 15th century, dominates the square.
The Church of Our Lady before is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague, Czech Republic, and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires.
In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was replaced by an early Gothic Church of Our Lady in front of Týn in 1256. Construction of the present church began in the 14th century in late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. By the beginning of the 15th century, construction was almost complete; only the towers, the gable and roof were missing. The church was controlled by Hussites for some time, including John of Rokycan, future archbishop of Prague, who became the church's vicar in 1427.
The roof was completed in the 1450s, while the gable and northern tower were completed shortly thereafter during the reign of George of Podebrady. His sculpture was placed on the gable, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. The southern tower was not completed until 1511, under Matěj Rejsek. In 1626, after the Battle of White Mountain, the sculptures of George of Podebrady and the chalice were removed and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant holy made from by melting down the chalice. In 1679 the church was struck by lightning, and the subsequent fire heavily damaged the old vault, which was later replaced by a lower baroque vault.
Other attractions are the 14th-century Týn Church, a center of the Hussite movement, and the astronomical clock, or Orloj, of Old Town Hall (Staroměstská Radnice), which is adorned with statues of the 12 apostles that rotate each hour.
On the hour show of figures of the Apostles
The Prague Astronomical Clock or Prague Orloj is a medieval astronomical clock, is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square and is a popular tourist attraction.
The Orloj is composed of three main
components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon
in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; "The Walk of the
Apostles", a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving
sculptures; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months.
The oldest part of the Orloj, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, dates back to 1410 when it was made by clockmaker Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel, the latter a professor. Later, presumably around 1490, the calendar dial was added and clock facade decorated with gothic sculptures.
In 1552 it was repaired by Jan Taborský,
clock-master of Orloj, who also wrote a report on the clock where he mentioned
Hanuš as maker of the clock. This was a mistake, and was corrected during the
The Orloj stopped working many times in the centuries after 1552, and was repaired many times. Some speculate that the government purposely gouged out the original maker's eyes in order to prevent him from making a similar clock for another country. After this he died touching the clock, at which point the clock stopped working and remained unrepairable for a number of years. In the 17th century moving statues were added, and figures of the Apostles were added after major repair in 1865-1866.
The Orloj suffered heavy damage on May 7 and
especially May 8, 1945, during the Prague Uprising, when Germans directed
incendiary fire from several armored vehicles and an anti-aircraft gun to the
south-west side of the Old Town Square in an effort to silence the provocative
broadcasting initiated by the National Committee on May 5. The hall and nearby
buildings burned along with the wooden sculptures on the Orloj and the calendar
dial face made by Josef Mánes. The machinery was repaired, the wooden Apostles
restored by Vojtěch Sucharda, and the Orloj started working again in 1948, but
only after significant effort.
There exists a good deal of misinformation relating to the construction of the Orloj. For a long time it was believed that the Orloj was constructed in 1490 by clockmaster Jan Růže (also called Hanuš) and his assistant Jakub Čech. Another fictitious story involves the clockmaker Hanuš being blinded on the order of the Prague Councillors.
The astronomical dial is a form of
mechanical astrolabe, a device used in medieval astronomy. Alternatively, one
may consider the Orloj to be a primitive planetarium, displaying the current
state of the universe. The astronomical dial has a background that represents
the standing Earth and sky, and surrounding it operate four main moving
components: the zodiacal ring, an outer rotating ring, an icon representing the
Sun, and an icon representing the Moon.
The background represents the Earth and the local view of the sky. The blue circle directly in the center represents the Earth, and the upper blue is the portion of the sky which is above the horizon. The red and black areas indicate portions of the sky below the horizon. During the daytime, the sun sits over the blue part of the background and at night it sits over the black. During dawn or dusk, the mechanical sun is positioned over the red part of the background.
Written on the eastern (left) part of the
horizon is aurora (dawn in Latin) and ortus (rising). On the western (right)
part is occasus (sunset), and crepusculum (twilight).
Golden Roman numbers at the outer edge of blue circle are the timescale of a normal 24 hour day and indicate time in local Prague time, or Central European Time. Curved golden lines dividing the blue part of dial into 12 parts are marks for unequal hours. These hours are defined as 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset, and vary as the days grow longer or shorter during the year. Inside the large black outer circle lies another movable circle marked with the signs of the zodiac which indicates the location of the sun on the ecliptic. The signs are shown in anticlockwise order. In the photographs accompanying this article, the sun is currently in Aries, and will be moving anticlockwise into Taurus next.
The displacement of the zodiac circle
results from the use of a stereographic projection of the ecliptic plane using
the North pole as the basis of the projection. This is commonly seen in
astronomical clocks of the period. The small golden star shows the position of
the vernal equinox, and sidereal time can be read on the scale with golden Roman
At the outer edge of the clock, golden Schwabacher numerals are set on a black background. These numbers indicate Old Czech Time (or Italian hours), with 24 indicating the time of sunset, which varies during the year from as early as 16:00 in winter to 20:16 in summer. This ring moves back and forth during the year to coincide with the time of sunset.
The golden Sun moves around the zodiacal
circle, thus showing its position on the ecliptic. The sun is attached to an arm
with a golden hand, and together they show the time in three different ways:
1. The position of the golden hand over the Roman numerals on the background indicates the time in local Prague time.
2. The position of the sun over the curved golden lines indicates the time in unequal hours.
3. The position of the golden hand over the outer ring indicates the hours passed after sunset in Old Czech Time.
Additionally, the distance of the Sun from the center of the dial shows the time of sunrise and sunset. The movement of the Moon on the ecliptic is shown similarly to that of the Sun, although the speed is much faster. The half-silvered sphere of the moon also shows the Lunar phase.
The movements of the various mechanical
parts of the astronomical dial are too slow to appreciate in real time, but
become easier to comprehend using a computer model of Orloj, with an animation
here. An animated picture and a spreadsheet that 'constructs' the clock for each
moment in the year and at each place in the world is to see in a Didactic
Astrock is an implementation of Orloj developed for iPhone. In addition to the medieval Orloj, it shows the astrolabe for every location on Earth including equator, North Pole and your current location. Astrock also displays the movement of the planets for any date and time. The model can be used for an introduction to the positional astronomy as well as for daily life as the original Orloj was intended.
The four figures flanking the clock are set
in motion at the hour, these represent four things that were despised at the
time of the clock's making. From left to right in the photographs, the first is
Vanity, represented by a figure admiring himself in a mirror. Next, a Jew
holding a bag of gold represents greed or usury. Across the clock stands Death,
a skeleton that strikes the time upon the hour. Finally, the infidel Turk wears
There is also a presentation of statues of the Apostles at the doorways above the clock, with all twelve presented every hour. The calendar below the clock was added in 1870.
Old Town also encompasses Josephov, the city’s Jewish quarter. Dating from the 10th century, Josephov contains the Old-New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery, which is the oldest in Europe. Many of the buildings of Charles University are in Old Town, as are several concert halls and museums.
Beautiful St. Nicholas Church
at the Old Town Square (1732-1735)
Originally Benedictine, today (since 1918) the main church of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church. It replaced a parish church, mentioned in records dating back as early as 1273.
It wasn't until 1901, when the Krenn House was demolished, that its lovely white façade became visible to the rest of the Old Town Square. It simply gleams, hit by the sun during the day and lit by strong white lights at night.
St. Nicholas is a Baroque church, decorated with sculptures by Antonín Braun. The interior design was inspired by the chapel of St. Louis-des-invalides in Paris. The delicate stucco decoration was executed by Bernardo Spinetti, and the frescos are by Peter Adam the Elder. In 1781 decoration inside St. Nicholas was removed after emperor Josef II ordered the closure of all monasteries without a social function.
From 1870-1914 St. Nicholas became Russian Orthodox. Then, during the second World War, Czech army units were stationed here and artists were set to work restoring the church.
After the war, St. Nicholas was handed over to the Czech Hussite movement, with whom it remains today. It now serves as both a church and a magnificent venue for classical concerts.
New Town, which is adjacent to Old Town on the eastern bank of the Vltava, has remained an industrial and commercial center over the centuries. Many of the area’s buildings date from the 18th century. There are also numerous examples of art nouveau architecture.
Statue of Wenceslas at the head of Wenceslas Square in front of the National Museum
Wenceslas Square is one of the main city squares and the centre of the business and cultural communities in the New Town of Prague, Czech Republic. Many historical events occurred there, and it is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The square is named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia.
Formerly known as Koňský trh (English: Horse Market), for its perodic accommodation of horse markets during the Middle Ages, it was renamed Svatováclavské náměstí (English: Saint Wenceslas square) in 1848 on the proposal of Karel Havlíček Borovský.
Looking up the hill on Wenceslas Square
Less a square than a boulevard, Wenceslas Square has the shape of a very long (750 m, total area 45,000 m˛) rectangle, in a northwest–southeast direction. The street slopes upward to the southeast side. At that end, the street is dominated by the grand neoclassical Czech National Museum. The northwest end runs up against the border between the New Town and the Old Town.
In 1348, Bohemian King Charles IV founded the New Town of Prague. The plan included several open areas for markets, of which the second largest was the Koňský trh, or Horse Market. At the southeastern end of the market was the Horse Gate, one of the gates in the walls of the New Town.
During the Czech national revival movement in the 19th century, a more noble name for the street was requested. At this time the statue was built, and the square was renamed.
On October 28, 1918, Alois Jirásek read the proclamation of independence of Czechoslovakia in front of the Saint Wenceslas statue.
The Nazis used the street for mass demonstrations. During the Prague Uprising in 1945, a few buildings near the National Museum were destroyed. They were later replaced by department stores.
On January 16, 1969, student Jan Palach set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square to protest the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968.
On March 28, 1969, the Czechoslovakian national ice hockey team defeated the USSR team for the second time in that year's Ice Hockey World Championships. As the country was still under Soviet occupation, the victory induced great celebrations. Perhaps 150,000 people gathered on Wenceslas Square, and skirmishes with police developed. A group of agents provocateurs provoked an attack on the Prague office of the Soviet airline Aeroflot, located on the street. The vandalism served as a pretext for reprisals and the period of so-called normalization.
In 1989, during the Velvet Revolution, large demonstrations (with hundreds of thousands of people or more) were held here.
Wenceslas Square is lined by hotels, offices, retail stores, currency exchange booths and fast-food joints. To the dismay of locals and city officials, the street is also a popular location for prostitutes to ply their trade late at night. Many strip clubs exist on and around Wenceslas Square, making Prague a popular location for stag parties.
The two obvious landmarks of Wenceslas Square are at the southeast, uphill end: the 1885-1891 National Museum Building, designed by Czech architect Josef Schulz, and the statue of Wenceslas.
The famous Wenceslas Square, or Václavské náměstí, is presided over by a statue of Saint Wenceslas, the 10th-century nobleman celebrated in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas." The National Museum, built between 1885 and 1890, lies at one end of the square. The National Theater, completed in 1881, is located on Národní třida, or National Street. Both buildings were constructed during the period of resurgent Czech culture and nationalism in the 19th century.
Loreta is a large pilgrimage destination in Hradčany, a district of Prague, Czech Republic. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, a Holy Hut and the clock tower with a famous chime.
The construction had started in 1626 and the Holy Hut was blessed on March 25, 1631. The architect was the Italian Giovanno Orsi; the project was financed by a noblewoman of the Lobkowitz family.
The Face wall in Baroque style was designed by the architects Christoph Dientzenhofer and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer and added at the beginning of the 18th century.
The chapel is most known for its peal, heard since August 15, 1695. It was constructed during 1694 by watchmaker Peter Neumann from thirty smaller and larger bells.
Today the building also hosts large collection of liturgical tools, mainly monstrances. Exhibitions are occasionally held on the first floor of the cloister.
Some attractions at Old Town Square Praha (Praque):
Suasana Old Town Square dengan bangunan architecture Czech
The horses with red ear covers are ready to take you around town in a carriage
or you can help peddle yourself
or ride in a vintage car
GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD, AND PREACH THE GOSPEL TO EVERY CREATURE
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