I shared the first couple of days of our holiday in Prague here but it’s been a while and I’ve not got round to posting the rest as I’ve been away (again!) so here it is 🙂
For a couple of days after our trip to Prague Zoo Lily went off with our lovely hosts to their country home – giving her a chance to experience Czech life and us a chance to explore the city without any moans about sore feet (ok so maybe I moaned a couple of times!)
Our first stop was Josefov – the Jewish Quarter, which is in between the Old Town and the Vltava river. The area started life as a Jewish ghetto in the 13th Century when the Jewish population were forced to leave their homes and settle in one area; it’s a small area and you can see that it would have been overcrowded and an unpleasant place to live at that time.
Various buildings in the Jewish Quarter
The Jewish Quarter has six synagogues and you can buy a special ticket at many local shops or entrance booths that gives you entry to all of them apart from the Old-New Synagogue. The day ticket gives you entry to the Old Jewish Cemetery as well.
We started our day with a walk around the Spanish Synagogue – its a stunning building, the decoration is incredible but it’s a sobering experience when you realise that Hitler, upon Nazi occupation of Prague, decided to preserve the Jewish Quarter as a “Museum of an Extinct Race”. The Nazis had Jewish artefacts shipped from other occupied countries to Prague and there is an exhibition of these and photographs of the Nazi occupation in an upstairs room.
Inside Pinkas Synagogue
I found the Pinkas Synagogue quite upsetting. The walls of the building are covered with the names of around 78,000 Czech victims of the Nazi genocide and quite suddenly the numbers that you read and revised in History class become people. I hadn’t research the Synagogue before visiting, and even if I had nothing could have prepared me for the actual physical reaction I had, for the sheer volume or the realisation of the individuals whose lives were so cruelly taken. Upstairs, the display of drawings done by children in the camps is equally heartbreaking. I was made even more upset by the complete lack of respect some visitors had – couples taking kissing selfies in front of these names, people posing for photos as if this were the Lennon wall; I even had to ask one American gentleman to take his phone call outside!
#fwis – our converse didnt stay white for long
After our morning exploring the Jewish quarter we decided to let our feet decide where we would go next – and decide they did; they decided to get us completely and utterly lost. We walked for hours and saw more of the city than we’d expected to – we found lovely little parks, woodland trails just outside the city centre, and more pretty doors that Scott couldn’t understand my need to photograph!
This is the face of a normally patient man who is wondering why his wife keeps stopping and photographing people’s doors… I can’t help it #ihavethisthingwithdoors
The tourist spots are well sign-posted (didn’t stop us getting lost!)
It was with relief and a sense of accomplishment that we made it back to the apartment that evening – we definitely earned our local traditional Czech dinner and beers but we must have been hungry as we didn’t bother to take a photo!
By the way you’ll see these old fashioned Fords everywhere in the city, alongside long red cars in a similar style – they are ridiculously overpriced tourist traps that charge to drive tourists to places that are easily accessible by foot (also IMO you look a bit of a muppet in them to boot!)
We had a lazy start the next morning, Scott went and got takeaway breakfast burritos and coffee from a local cafe and we sat in the sunshine enjoying the morning without a rush. When we eventually bothered to leave the apartment we wandered over to Charles Bridge (not to cross it but just to explore the area around it). Aside from the usual touristy-tat that you get in every destination there are also some lovely artisan boutiques around the area that were nice to look around.
Love locks on the canalside under Charles Bridge
Scott accidentally coordinating with the graffiti art under Charles Bridge
In the afternoon we headed over to the Powder tower for a World War 2 tour of Prague run by these guys
The Powder Tower
Plaques commemorating those Jewish families removed from their homes and sent to concentration camps during WWII
The tour was completely fascinating, our guide was really knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. We were in a small group of five which meant that we could hear him well and he walked at a pace to suit everybody. The story of the Prague resistance was really interesting, as was the details of the assassination of the head of Nazi SS and SD forces,Reinhard Heydrich and the story of British man Nicholas Winton who saved 700 Czech Jewish children during the Nazi occupation. Through the tour we were permitted access to the underground tunnels used by the resistance, including under the Old Town Square.
The tour ended at Letna park – the site of the Prague Metronome which was erected in 1991 on the platform where the Stalin monument once stood. Letna park is well worth a visit (if you can handle stairs and hills!) – we stopped here for a beer and to watch skateboarders doing tricks whilst taking in the incredible view of the City.
I don’t want to ‘over-Prague’ you (as if that’s possible!) so i’ll be back with Part 3 of our incredible trip to Prague soon!