We have often walked along the riverfront of the Vltava but on Saturday we did something new. We took a short boat trip on the river. It was only an hour, but it showed us part of the city from a new perspective. It was overcast, so some of the pictures we took aren’t as crisp as we would like, but they may help show why we like being here. One thing that we saw more clearly from the river than while walking around is that almost everywhere you look the tops of buildings have terraces on them and the upper stories and balconies all seem to have statues looking out over the city.
There are more boats doing these short tours than I would have expected given that the area they cover is not very large. Just to the east of the Charles Bridge there is a set of small dams. They are there because the Vltava sometimes floods and I am sure the dams are there to help control the flow. To go any further east, boats have to go through a lock, which seems to be a time-consuming process. A mile or so to the west of us is the same kind of setup, so the stretch where the boats go is less than 4 miles long. There is plenty to see on that short journey. Even as it dominates the view from the land, the castle dominates the view from the river as well. I put a small sample of some of the pictures we took in the picture gallery.
Just as we finished the cruise, the rain sprinkles began. Since we are hardy travelers, we decided not to let a little rain bother us. We walked down to the square by the back streets and discovered a building we had not yet seen: the Spanish Synagogue. We also spotted a statue we had not seen before of Franz Kafka. It was not, as they say, a traditional representation. There is a picture of it in the gallery.
I took a picture of the relief over the west door of the Our Lady of Tyn church. It is very elaborate and, given its location off the main track, is probably not seen by everyone. The church is the one I often show with the double spires on the north side of the main square. When we walked back from the road trip on Friday evening I took a picture of the church lit by flood lights and that is the picture at the top of the article. It isn’t as sharp as I would like, but it gives a good idea of the beauty of the place. It is Patricia’s favorite and one of the reasons she loves coming to Prague. On past visits the church has been closed or a service has been going on but this time we were able to spend some time inside. The church has a history that begins before the current building, but this elaborate building dates back to the 1300s. It is absolutely full of black and gilded statues and Renaissance pictures and the columns that support the arched ceilings seem to rise into the sky. The many statues and decorations contrast starkly with the patterns and open spaces we saw with the mosques in Turkey. We could not take pictures inside the church.
We then walked over to Wenceslas Square (as in Good King Wenceslas). This square, which is actually a rectangle that is more than a half mile long, was a focal point for the Velvet Revolution that helped the Czechs move to democracy. It is an important place. Now it is lined with many of the same stores you would see in Paris, London, Las Vegas, or New York. Patricia particularly likes it for the energy it seems to give off. On Friday we were in in a nearly thousand-year old village that seemed frozen in time and on Saturday in a far older city that is still inventing itself. Seeing the scope of history is one of the reasons we like to travel.
The rain picked up as we left the square and we were pretty damp but happy by the time we got back to the hotel where we spent a quiet afternoon and evening.