A Visit to Strahov Monastery & Prague Castle, Two of Prague’s Gems

The masterpiece of the cathedral is the St. Wenceslas Chapel, created in the 14th century by Charles IV to honour St. Wenceslas, patron of the Czech lands. The richly decorated chapel was built over the saint’s grave and the colourful walls are covered by semi-precious stones of Czech origin. The rest of the wall was later covered with paintings of the legend of St. Wendeslas.

The St. Wenceslas Chapel


Back outside the cathedral Petra showed me a fenced off area underneath the cathedral that holds excavations of two earlier churches: an early 10th century church dedicated to St. Wenceslas, and a bigger church from the 11th century. The third castle courtyard that we were now standing in was constructed in the late 18th century. Images outside the cathedral’s Golden Portal, located on the south side, consist of a mosaic depicting the last judgment. Mosaics are rather atypical for a Central European church as they can mostly be found on Italian and Byzantine churches.

St. George’s Basilica


From the third courtyard we walked downhill along Jirska Street, past St. George’s Convent and the Lobkowicz Palace and we exited the walled castle compound on the east side where we witnessed another Changing of the Guards ceremony. A lookout point beside the fortification walls provided us with an amazing panorama over the city and the vineyards that stretch out along the southern flanks of Castle Hill.

One of the guards at Prague Castle


From here we walked down the hill towards the Malostranska subway station where we found a nice outdoor café and capped off our walking tour with a drink and a crepe. I thanked Petra sincerely for her time and for sharing her knowledge of Prague with me before we ended the tour around 6 pm.

My expert guide, Petra Bedlasova


Now by myself, I took a nice walk along the banks for the Vltava River to the Ivanesuv Bridge from where I had an excellent view south towards the famous Charles Bridge.It felt like I was looking at a postcard from this vantage point, which provided a gorgeous panorama of the Charles Bridge and the Old Town Bridge Tower.

What an amazing view of the Charles Bridge


I continued my stroll through the narrow cobble-stoned streets of Mala Strana, the Lesser Town district on the west side of the river and came across the Franz Kafka Museum. It was now too late to go inside the museum but I enjoyed the pleasant courtyard and was most entranced by two sculptures of peeing men with swiveling hips. The sculptures most definitely had tourists puzzled and chuckling.

Peeing sculptures inside the courtyard of the Franz Kafka Museum


On my walk back towards Wenceslas Square I strolled past several Prague landmarks, including Old Town Square, the Powder Tower and Municipal House. Once arrived on Wenceslas Square I looked towards the eastern end of the square. The Czech National Museum, located on a hill, was overlooking this large public space, tinged in beautiful dark orange from the sunset. The normally grayish-brown building looked as if it were glowing in dark shades of orange.

The National Museum in the orange glow of the setting sun


I had a chance to snap a few pictures of the statue of St. Wenceslas against a dramatic gray, purple and orange sky, and filled with a long day of visual impressions, I was ready to return to the Hotel Jalta, my comfortable abode, for one more full day of discoveries in Prague. As I was downloading my hundreds of pictures of the day, I realized that without a doubt the magic of Prague had enchanted me and I was falling in love with this city.

The St. Wenceslas Monument at sunset

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