Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Prague 3d Charles Bridge N (5/22/2018)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 (continued)
Captain Candy (at Karlova #7) had barrels and barrels
of candies that looked like food (fruit and nuts, seafood, etc.)
Next a visit to the Clementinum/Klementinum, one of the largest collections of historic buildings in Europe. It is home to Charles University and to the National Library of the Czech Republic. The Baroque buildings were originally part of a Jesuit college founded when in 1556 Emperor Ferdinand I invited the Jesuits to Prague to bring back Catholicism. It became the property of the state after the Jesuits were expelled in 1618, but they returned two years later. Clementinum and Carolinum universities merged in 1622, giving them a monopoly over higher education. They expanded in 1653-1723, taking over 30 houses and three churches. In 1773 the order was suppressed by Pope Clement XIV, so the Jesuits left and education became secular, resulting in Prague University. The Clementinum became a public library in 1782 shortly after being constituted as the National Library. With more than six million books, the Clementinum's collection is huge and includes copies of every book published in the Czech Republic.
We took the mandatory guided tour, and even though the elevator was out of order, we were taken on a tiny elevator on which our group of five persons fit. This brought us to the Baroque Library Hall/ Barokní knihovní sál (no photos allowed) that has not changed since 1722, when it was organized as the library of the Jesuit college. It is said that the Jesuits brought only one book to Prague in 1556, and now this hall holds about 20,000 volumes (mostly theological texts). It also claims to be the most beautiful library in the world.
The hall is decorated with frescoes (by Jan Hiebl) depicting The Sciences and The Arts. The painting in the cupola represents the Temple of Wisdom. Along the walls, in the triangles above the windows, are portraits of significant Jesuit persons. At the head of the hall is a portrait of Josef II, who enriched the library with confiscated books from abolished monasteries. Large geographical and astronomical globes stand in a line down the center of the hall. A facsimile of the Vyšehrad Codex, thought to have been made in 1085, a book of coronation gospels, was on display with other book replicas. The Codex was given to King Vratislav II, who kept it in his residence, the Vyšehrad, thus the name.
Our visit to the Klementium included the
Astronomical Tower/Astronomika vez (1722)
We had to climb 172 steps in the Astronomical Tower, stopping at one level called the Meridian Hall. Here from 1842 until the 1920s, sunlight coming through a hole was observed and when it touched the meridian line, a flag was waved from the tower to announce it was noon. Various meteorological and climate measurements were taken at Clementinum beginning in 1775, which makes it the longest uninterrupted observation of the climate in the world.
Tamiko and Kent on the perimeter deck of the Astronomical Tower (KSS)
Also part of Klementinum, the Mirror Chapel/Zrcadlová kaple (1722-1726)
The Tree of Knowledge?
seen outside the National Library entrance
at Klementinum (KSS)
Found ourselves at the Knights of the Cross Square/Křižovnické náměstí, at the east end of the Charles Bridge/Karlův Most.
Neo-Gothic statue of Charles IV (1848) shown holding
the contract establishing Charles University in 1348
Around the pedestal of the statue of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, are four women representing the main university subjects of the time: theology, the arts, law and medicine. Charles IV himself was educated in France and was literate and fluent in five languages. He traded ideas with the Italian poet Petrarch, and imported artists from France, Italy, and Flanders. His reign is called the Golden Age of Bohemia.
You are told to be sure to see the statue from the side...
Old Town Bridge Tower/Staroměstská mostecká věž
(1380, by Peter Parléř in Gothic style)
The coats of arms just above the arch of the Old Town Bridge Tower represent the territories ruled by Charles IV. Above them are statues (replicas) of Charles IV, St Vitus in the middle, and Wenceslas IV. And above them are figures of St Vojtěc/Adalbert and St Sigismund. The signature Prague tower roof is evident here, a steep asymmetrical hipped roof on a square platform with four turrets. The hipped roof has eight sides, with one opposite pair wider than the others.
Now to cross the Charles Bridge/Karlův Most (1357, by Peter Parléř) over the Vltava River, which has 32 unique points of interest along its 520 m/11,706' span. It was commissioned by Charles IV, and could carry four carriages abreast. Now it is open only for pedestrians.
The Charles Bridge was the subject of much superstition, including the builders having laid the initial bridge stone on the 9th of July at exactly 5:31 am, a precise set of numbers (135797531) believed to give the structure additional strength. Additionally it was constructed in perfect alignment with the tomb of St. Vitus and the setting sun on the equinox. It is also said that perhaps eggs were added to mortar of sandstone blocks to insure strength.
The statuary along the bridge are now replicas, with the originals kept in the Lapidarium.
Madonna and St Bernard (1709, by Matěj Václav Jäckl)
with cherubs and Passion symbols such as
dice, cock, and centurion's gauntlet
The cock sits on a pair of dice
Madonna, St Dominic, St Thomas Aquinas (1708,
by  Matěj Václav Jäckl); there is a dog
because "Dominicans" is a Latin pun of
Domini cane/God's dogs
Crucifixion with 1626 Christ, and the Hebrew words
Holy Holy, Holy Lord paid for by a Jew as
"punishment" for blasphemy
Originally there was a wooden cross placed here in 1361, but it was destroyed by the Hussites in 1419. A new 1629 crucifix was damaged by the Swedes in 1648. After another wooden replacement, this cross (made in 1629 in Dresden) was erected in 1657. The 1861 sandstone figures of the Virgin Mary and St John the Evangelist replaced 1666 lead figures.
St Ann (1707, by Matěj Václav Jäckel) (KSS)
 St Cyril and St Methodius (1928-1939, by Karel Dvořák)
 of the brothers who brought Christianity to all Slavs
c. 865; here they bring "primitive" woman to the fold
St John the Baptist (1857, by Josef Max) (KSS)
At the spot believed to be where St John of Nepomuk
was thrown into the river is a brass relief of a figure
floating under the bridge, and a cross surrounded
by five stars embedded in the stone banister
Apparently one is to place the five fingers of one hand on the five stars of the cross while placing the fingers of the other hand on the five stars that typically surround the head of St John of Nepomuk, for luck? Remember that as as confessor of the wife of Wenceslas IV, John of Nepomuk was thrown in the river and drowned for not revealing anything heard in the confessional to the jealous king.
Sts Norbert of Xanten, Wenceslas and Sigismund
(1853, by Josef Max) (KSS)
St John of Nepomuk (1683, by Jan Brokoff,
 supposedly inspired by Bernini sculptures
on Ponte Sant'Angelo in Rome) (KSS)
St Anthony of Padua (1707, by Jan Oldřich Mayer);
and a marionettist
Several caricature artists were set up along the bridge
St Jude Thaddeus (1708, by Jan Oldřich Mayer) (KSS)
St Augustine (1708, by Jan Bedřich Kohl)
St Cajetan (1709, by Ferdinand Brokoff) (KSS)
View from Charles Bridge to the smaller Judith Tower and the
Lesser Town Bridge Tower, with Prague Castle steeples to the right
View from farther east on the Charles Bridge (12/24/1981)
St Philip Benizi (1714, by Michal Bernard Mandl) (KSS)
St Vitus (1714, by Ferdinand Brokoff) (KSS)
Christ between Sts Cosmas and Damian
(1709, by Jan Oldřich Mayer) (KSS)
On the Lesser Town/Malá Strana side of the river, we did some exploring, including visiting the Karl Museum/Film Special Effects Museum (opened in 2012), which displays the life and work of Karel Zeman from  his first animations and puppet films in the 1940’s to work from his last creative period. Much of the museum is dedicated to his most significant films: Journey to the Beginning of Time, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. Zeman was an inspiration to many American and other filmmakers.
Showing scenes from The Fabulous World of Jules Verne
Kent tries out a flying machine, perhaps from
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne
Karel Zeman Museum; note the cushions with film prints
that were scattered throughout the displays
Next was the Franz Kafka Museum, housed in the former Herget Brickworks/Hergetova cihelna (1781). In a dark maze of rooms, personal artifacts and information panels showed how Kafka was affected by Prague, and how the city was shaped by his writings.
But what's this in front of the Kafka Museum?
Another controversial art installation by David Černý, titled Proudy and/or Piss (2004),
has two figures streaming water into a pool shaped like the Czech Republic. As their hips swivel side to side and up and down, they are actually spelling out Czech literary quotes. We did not check out the sign that would have told us how to get the figures to spell out our own message.
At the Three Ostriches/U tří pštrosů (at Dražického #12)
maintains the wrought-iron sign and fresco of a
former owner, who sold ostrich feathers
Next: Prague 3e Charles Bridge S.

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