Monday, October 19, 2009

The House on the Hill

Europe has a thing about castles. We saw them ruined, we saw them fixed up, close-up, far away, and we even got to walk through the grounds of some. Europeans may think it’s everyday and normal to live in the shadow of a castle but to those of us who grew up in boring old North America, it’s pretty darned cool.

Prague Castle was a tram ride and a long walk up a hill from our hotel. Much of the castle’s grounds were being renovated during our visit. The giant blue tarps did nothing to take away from the splendor though. From statues depicting people about to be killed in various gruesome ways to a fountain where women kept openly flirting with Hubby, there was something to see in literally every direction.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the biggest “ancient” castle in the world. Its history dates back to the first millennia AD and the buildings within its grounds reflect the various architectural styles of the intervening years.

One of my favorite parts of the castle complex was Saint Vitus's Cathedral. Even though I can’t tell Ionic columns from Doric, even I could slap the “gothic” label on this magnificent building. Although we had been planning on cheaping out on the paid tour of the cathedral, we were officially scared away by the literally mile long line of people waiting to get inside. Short of being given the Bohemian Coronation Jewels locked within the church, there was no way I was waiting in that line.

As we walked around the exterior of the Cathedral, I kept expecting it to start moving or groaning as it looked like a cross between the house from Rose Red and Hogwarts. Eerie gargoyles perched and hung off the sides of the religious edifice daring the devoted to enter its domain.

Franz Kafka once called a house along Golden Lane within the castle complex home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was here that he wrote “The Castle.” They do say to write what you know, after all.

There were interesting things to look at and find around almost every corner. My favorite was definitely the mysterious calendar we found on the wall near the Vikarka Restaurant. I say “mysterious” because all of my subsequent attempts to find the same of this small find have resulted in a big goose egg. If you know what this photo is of, please tell me in the comments because it’s driving me crazy!

Hubby and I spent several pleasant hours exploring Prague Castle that day. We still had large portions of the city yet to explore but we couldn’t seem to tear ourselves away. The beautiful views of the city, the amazing moments hidden behind doorways, and the buzzing of tourists speaking dozens of languages all around me - there was something about Prague that made me want to call it home. Maybe someday…

27 comments:

San said...

Gorgeous castles! I'd always wanted to traverse through Europe to see their beautiful landscape and buildings! :P Ah well, that's a dream in the pipeline! Hahaha!

And sorry, can't help you with the round egg-y calendar thing!

Protege said...

Lovely post abut a castle I know better than any historical place in the world. I have visited it about hundred times; numerous times with my grandparents in the hight of the Communism era and often later, after the revolution. Its incredible magic is never the same, yet it is endless.
xoxo

LadyFi said...

Since I'm British, I'm used to castles and cathedrals.. but I must say, this cathedral is something else! Very threatening and Hogwarts like with a big dash of Goth!

Lovely post.

And that green ice cream in your last post... Did you start glowing?

American in Norway said...

I love Prague... but as you just went I am guessing you wouldn't be up for a girls weekend there? Hmmmm?

Susie said...

Wow! That's just breathtaking!

Casey (@ Ever-Changing Life) said...

Do you ever get castle and church jaded? I think it gets harder to be impressed the more you see. Haven't been to Prague yet though. It's on the list!

Katherine Aucoin said...

The Prague Castle is certainly impressive and to look at the intricate architecture and enormity of the structire and think of the time period in which it was built just boggles the mind.

Just Playin' said...

I haven't done a lot of traveling but it's on my bucket list. These cathedrals are beautiful. In NYC, on the way to the airport, we stopped in to a big cathedral. Coming off the noisy, busy, siren blaring street into the quiet atmosphere of music,prayers, and candles in the cathedral was a WONDERFUL reminder. Cathedrals always remind us don't they.Thanks!!
Sandra

Anonymous said...

That castle and the St. Vitus church look amazing! (Does Prague have an 'off season'-my preferred time to go anywhere?) I'll have to add it to my bucket list too!
Don't know what the 'calendar' is but definitely need one on the deck.
merthyrmum

Gaston Studio said...

I think we Americans have a fascination about castles simply because we didn't grow up in their shadows as did the Europeans. Whatever, this is a gorgeous example. Are those patinaed brass tops I see?

Mayhem and Moxie said...

Your blog is such a refreshing change from the norm. It reminds me how desperately I need to break out and do more traveling in the world. Thank you!

-Francesca

Christina Lee said...

Hogwarts-yes! So gorgeous and fascinating!

Melissa Miller said...

Thank you very much for your kind visit to my blog! I really appreciate it and you are always welcome.

What amazing photos! Your blog is wonderful.

Many blessings,
~Melissa :)

Caution Flag said...

I get overwhelmed when I think about what those craftsmen accomplished without power tools and electricity. Now we have all those advantages and seem to build some of the ugliest buildings ever.

Leslie, The Cleaning Coach said...

I always think of cleaning. Wonder how you take care of a place like that!

Leslie, The Cleaning Coach said...

I always think of cleaning. Wonder how you take care of a place like that!

Bluefish said...

I love castles. They're old and mysterious...It's a jewel of Europe.

Turquoise Diaries said...

First time on your blog but definitely not the last time. I will keep coming back to wander the world with you...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I would love to see all these castles someday.

The Blonde Duck said...

I would be more than happy to live in a castle.

Maybe it's a clock, like a sundial.

Connie said...

That is a beautiful castle. Definitely a treasure that I hope is always protected! I understand your N.American fascination with all things 'old building'... we just don't have this back home! But at the same time, I think we've been living overseas long enough now that when I go home, I can't help be dazzled by the beauty of our woods and other natural sites, that so many take for granted, in the same way that I stand in awe of these antique, man-made structures.

Betty said...

I want to see a castle before I am too old to see one! Your pictures make me want it even more!

Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

I think I have a new found appreciation for castles. Gorgeous photos.

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I love castles and old architecture. I long for the day when I can travel the world. Until then...thanks for sharing your travels with us. One of these days, I plan to spend some time lurking around in your archives.

Nicole said...

I didn't know that! Thanks for the Info. Now I'm even keener to go there one day :)

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I'm so glad you liked this post up so more of us undercastled can enjoy.

Someday....

only a movie said...

Pseudo - undercastled? Brilliant.
Hi - I love your blog. I have no idea why I have not been here before.
When I lived overseas, I was a castle geek. Never went to Prague though...
Off to peruse more of your site!