Thursday, May 24, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Prague 5a (5/24/2018)

Thursday, May 24, 2018
This morning Viking Cruises was prepared to take us on the included Panoramic Prague excursion, but when we reviewed the itinerary with Program Director Michael and the guides, we decided we had already seen everything. We took advantage of the shuttle bus provided by Viking to get into the Old Town. We were dropped off in Mariánské náměstí, where City Hall with the paternoster elevator was located. We gave Peter and Beth a chance to try it out.
Peter & Beth are in the cabin and heading up
Quick! Have to step out while it is moving!
What a ride!
Small Square/Malé náměstí with wrought-iron clad
fountain (c 1560), the oldest fountain in Prague
From Old Town Square/Staroměstské náměstí, we walked down the street of Celetna, one of oldest in Prague, that follows an old trading route from Eastern Bohemia. The name comes from the plaited bread rolls first baked here in Middle Ages. The street was also part of the Royal Route used for coronation processions. In the days when most people could not read or write, locations had descriptive names indicated in carved stone or wrought-iron signs.
House of the Black Sun at #8 (Hi, Beth!)
At #10 was Choco-Story with a museum, and chocolate in all
manner of shapes, including X-rated
At the Black Vulture at #22
Finally found the Black Vulture
At the Spider at #17
House of the Black Madonna at #34  (1911-1912,
by Josef Gočár as the first example
of Cubist architecture in Prague)
The Black Madonna
Inside is a unique spiral staircase, sometimes
called the light bulb staircase (KSS)
The Grand Café Orient, up one flight of stairs, was meticulously
reconstructed using photos from 1912, showing Cubist design
Cubist menu and coat hooks
Most of the building is used for the Prague Museum of Cubism.
Cubist objects (KSS)
A Cubist chair
Powder Tower/Prašná brána (1475-1483, modeled
after the Old Town Bridge Tower by Peter Parléř
The tower was built at one of the original thirteen 11C gateways into the Old Town, and was not meant to be defensive, rather to be decorative to add prestige to the adjacent Royal Court. It was used to store gunpowder in the 17C.
Powder Tower (12/24/1981)
Municipal House/Obecní dům (1905-1911, designed
by Antonin Balšánek assisted by Osvaldo Polívka
in Art Nouveau style) was built
on the site of the Royal Court Palace
Municipal House (12/24/1981)
The Municipal House is home to Prague's most important and largest concert venue, Smetana Hall.
Municipal House (12/24/1981)
Mosaic mural (by Karel Špillar) called Homage to Prague with
 the goddess Praha/Prague presiding over a land of peace and high culture 
Wrought-iron balcony flanked by Atlases holding lanterns,
and in the center is a medallion with a three-tower castle
that is a symbol of Prague; stained glass in entrance arcade
We could not enter Smetana Hall, but there was much to see inside the Municipal House.
Ticket box office (KSS)
Mosaic tile floor in the lobby
Art Nouveau lighting in the lobby
A peek into the café to the left of the lobby
(the restaurant to the right was closed)
The grand staircase to Smetana Hall
"Subway" tile along the stairs to the lower lobby (KSS)
Tile painting
A peek into the Plzeňská Restaurant
with mosaic peasant scenes
Lower lobby tiled floor
Stained glass and tile fountain
Hotel Central (1899-1902, by Friedrich Ohmann with
Alois Dryák and Bedřich Bendelmayer in Art Nouveau
style); the façade has plasterwork like tree branches
Bicycle lane
Farmers Market/Farmářský trh
Market generator (KSS)
One of many designs of the cobblestone
sidewalks in Prague
Historic 1908 streetcar, which runs on Line 91 in the summer
Kotva (1970-1975, designed by Czech architect couple Věra Machoninová
and Vladimir Machoni), now a luxury department store
Kotva had very few goods for sale on 12/24/1981
Back into the Old Town.
Estates Theater/Stavovské divaldo (1783, by
Anton Haffenecker in neo-Classical style) was used
to stage dramas and operas, and now includes ballet
Statue (2000, by Anna Chromý) of Il Commendatore,
to commemorate the premier of Wolfgang Mozart's
Don Giovanni here in 1787
Hmm, Hooter's and Harley-Davidson
Wooden toys at the Havelské tržiště,
a preserved marketplace dating back to 1232
House of Two Golden Bears/Dům U Dvou
zlatých medvědů
(portal dated 1590), was where
journalist and writer Egon Erwin Kisch was born
Marionettes (KSS)
Golden snakes at #16 Jilská (KSS)
An Art Nouveau Absintherie
Unusual door design
The others wanted to head to a place for lunch, so I sent them ahead, but I had a few twists and turns to make.
Church of St Giles/Kostel svatého Jiljí (1371
with  Baroque treatment in the 18C);
it is believed that John of Nepomuk was a
member of this parish
Man Hanging Out/Zavěšený muž
(1996, by Czech sculptor David Černý)
The man hanging out is supposed to be Sigmund Freud
This sculpture has toured the world, but is back in Prague. It is said to be a sculptural statement about intellectualism in the 20C and Černý’s uncertainty about it.
Bethlehem Chapel/Betlémská kaple, a reconstruction of the hall
built in 1391-1394 by followers of radical priest Jan Milíč z Kroměříže ,
who paved the way for reformers like Jan Hus
Švejk Restaurant at the Green Tree, named for the character
in the book of the same name by Jaroslav Hasek
Trade Union House/Odborový dům Na Perštýně in Cubist style (KSS)
Church of St Martin in the Wall/Kostel svatého Martina ve zdi,
a 12C church became part of the city wall during forification in the 13C
It turned out that the others had to wait for me, because they gave a thumbs down to the U Medvidku.
U Medvidku (1466), smallest brewery in Prague, but largest beer hall
They told me it served Budweiser Budvar beer, the weakest beer they have had in Prague. I do not know where they went, because U Medvidku is a microbrewery that serves its own beer, and claims to have the strongest beer in the world, X-Beer-33, along with a lager, wheat beer, special dark beer, special light beer, and a semi-dark lager.
We marched back along Jilská to the Restaurace U Vejvodů, where Pilsener Urquell was promised. It is interesting to note that most eating establishments in Prague offer only one brand of beer.
Restaurants may also have these racks of pretzels,
at a cost per piece
I had a homemade raspberry lemonade
Oh, and this was a drink stop, not lunch!
Next: Prague 5b.

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