Shall we take one last look at Prague? If I don't step this up, I'll still be posting about this trip come December! I'm choosing the highlights as there is so much we saw and did. My journal is filled with perceptions, observations, and details which you would tire of reading.
We spent a morning visiting the Jewish Quarter, choosing a self-guided tour this time. The Jewish Museum in Prague comprises a complex of buildings and sites and one ticket covers all of them except for the Old-New Synagogue, which is a separate entrance. That building is also the only current Jewish house of worship and prayer in Prague.
The Jewish Town Hall, above was built in 1586 and renovated in the 18th century. I found it a particularly beautiful building with the blue walls and white trip (I'm a huge fan of blue and white), and the dark clock tower atop.
One of the most moving sites we visited was the Pinkas Synagogue where the walls are covered with the names and places of the 80,000 Jews taken from Prague by the Nazi regime. No photos are allowed. It is a quiet place other than for the continuous reading aloud of the names written on the walls.
In another part of the synagogue there is a display of artwork done by the children of Terezin camp, a "model" town devised by Hitler as a means of placating the Red Cross about the treatment of displaced Jews. A Jewish artist from Vienna, Freidl Dicker-Brandeis, brought art supplies in her allotted luggage and worked with the children of the camp, using art as a means of expressing their emotions. When she knew she would be transported to Auschwitz, she hid more than 4000 pieces of art in the attic where it was discovered after the war. You can read more about it here.
When I looked at the artwork, I could not help but compare it to the lighthearted drawings my own grandchildren create. The Terezin children drew pictures of camp life where guards hover, of families torn apart, of waiting for transport to who knows where. It was a sobering sight.
Hitler's plan was to maintain the Jewish Quarter in Prague as a memorial to an "Extinct Race" and so he brought many artifacts from other parts of Europe to Prague where they remain today. Another synagogue explained much of the daily life of the city. The graveyard is an astounding site. The Jews were forbidden to expand the boundaries of their quarter, including the graveyard, so new layers of soil were added on top of old graves, and the old stones removed and placed in the new soil along with the new gravestones. This happened many times over 3 centuries and now the graveyard is several metres higher than street level with the most amazing hodgepodge of gravestones.
We like to get out into the countryside, away from the more touristy areas, if we can. We're sometimes asked how we do this without knowing the language. Google Maps is wonderful, and can be downloaded to use offline. Transit schedules are often on the internet, as well, and we used that a lot.
Divoka Sarka is a nature reserve on the outskirts of Prague with a walking loop of about 3 hours. There is a lake, but you can't walk all the way around, because of a fenced complex, as we discovered, and had to back track. Going the other way we soon left the lake (where it seems homeless people like to hang out), and entered a lovely wooded area with a little stream.
It was another very very hot day and we took our time. We had brought a lunch (sandwiches from a bakery) and sat on a bench in the shade enjoying the peace and quiet. There was a flock of goats along the way, but very few people.
We left Prague, by train again, headed for Linz, Austria, where we met up with our cruise boat. The views from the train were lovely; fields of newly mown hay, white houses with red tile roofs, lots of trees, and the occasional view of a village in the distance.
I find that it takes time to distill experiences such as these. Tim and I talk about various bits and pieces often. Reviewing my photos bring back a lot of memories. And it's fun to share them with you, my readers, and to read your comments, as well.
Linking with Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf