Petrin Lookout Tower in Prague

morning in prague
Sunny morning

On our last day in Prague, hubby and I got some “we” time as we went to see the Petrin lookout Tower and view Prague, its spires and charms under the basking sun from above. The kids not being with us, were left to swim at the hotel with their grandmom,  it doesn’t happen too often. It was not like the other landmarks in Prague we saw which were a stone’s throw away from the hotel. We had to hop from a tram to another and walk uphill to reach the observation deck.  There’s actually a funicular (cliff railway) that can take visitors up easily but yes, we did it the hard way.

Going to the tower by foot means a bit of trekking for us. There’s a path on the hill that has been considerately made for those wanting to see the tower with a bit of adventure…or sweat. The hill was full of mini-fruit trees – apples and oranges on its slope.

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Hill to the tower, it’s 9:30 am.

Halfway through the hill, there’s a bit of clearing with some benches were one can rest and partially enjoy the view of the city of spires. Hubby and I took that chance to replenish ourselves, we realized that biking over the weekend and playing basketball and tennis at times helped in building our stamina. We took some shots but we were against the light, hence, we ended up with not so flattering photos.

The sun was surely sunny that morning but the wind was intimidating too, we walked up with our cardigans still. The trek was a curious one as you can easily clear paths and then there’s the stairs. I can’t clearly remember if the stairs stretch down to the foot of the hill or if it starts from where we found it. :/ But it would definitely have been easier to go up there than on pure soil. lols.

morning prague
Path for cars, bikes and runners as well.
spires view prague petrin
Sun’s out

Being on a hill, the tower is naturally surrounded by trees. Going up, we noticed big stone slabs with numbers…if I’m not mistaken these are what Catholics call stations of the cross. Prague is mostly a Catholic nation having been the seat of two Holy Roman emperors and also the capital of the Roman empire. Thus explains too the city’s nickname, “City of a Hundred Spires.”

Upon reaching the top of the hill, there’s a lovely pink church which is perhaps why there are those stations of the cross along the way. I learned that this is t he Cathedral of St. Lawrence.

trees slab petrin tower
Tower behind the trees, notice that stone slab?
st.lawrence church, pink church prague petrin
Pink St. Lawrence Church

The Petrin Lookout tower  is a 60 metre high steel framework that resembles the Eiffel tower albeit smaller and has a different structure. Despite, it being situated on a hill gives it a higher altitude than the Eiffel tower. Thus, we could say going up was like walking up the Eiffel tower or opting out the lift.

We arrived just in time for opening, yeah it took half an hour up the hill and the tower opens at 10, just perfect. There’s an entrance hall in the entire base selling whatnots, an information and ticket booth and a small café and on the lowest level still is a small museum of Jára Cimrman, a Czech fictional character presented as one of the greatest Czech of the 19th and early 20th century. I forgot how much the entry fee costs as we had to pay in Euros as we have no Koruna at the time. We could have walked up the stairs but we opted for the lift this time. ^_^

petrin
Tower view from the foot.

Atop, Prague’s skyline of red roofs and spires is like bathing happily in sun rays.  Up there looking down, one can see the historic Hunger wall, a medieval defense wall built sometime in 1360. Hladová  means hunger because the wall was built to employ the poor and feed them…thus hladová zeď has become a Czech euphemism for useless public works.

Hubby and I spent quite some time up there just enjoying the view, the spires, the Vltava River, bridges, the greenery…of course, it would have been better if it’s winter as the red roofs are partly covered with snow…it’s surely a picturesque view.

hunger wall, Hladová zeď
Hladová zeď or Hunger Wall
prague skyline
red roofs
vltava river
Roofs and the Vltava river

Cemetery (Sementeryo) in Prague’s Vysehrad

Vyšehrad

Prague was not without a lot of walking about on cobblestones, going up hills and walls and admiring the view of adobe and red brick roofs which would have been more beautiful if laden with snow. But I won’t really complain since it would be difficult to go about if the streets and hills are covered with snow too…Above is a view of the Malá Strana from other side of the Vltava River. A big church’s two bell towers are visible and this church is located at the Vysehrad Fortress, our first stop on Saturday morning.

Our hotel was at the city center so we had to take two train lines going to Vysehrad. From the train station we walk a good bit down to the fortress which was very peaceful. Going about, we ended at the  Neo Gothic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, built already in the 11 th century by the first Bohemian King Vratislav II. The church is characterized by two identical towers (in photo was shot from behind). These are just two of the hundred of spires that comprise Prague.

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What was surprising here – for me at least, was the cemetery adjacent to the church. The Vysehrad cemetery is  the final resting place of many Czech composers, artists, sculptors, writers, and known figures from the world of science and politics. I hadn’t read about this particular spot when I was looking for itineraries to list down before our visit. Then there, just by the entrance was Jan Neruda’s grave. It was from him that Chilean poet and 1971 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto took his pseudonym, more popular with it actually – Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite authors.

Walking at the Vysehrad and the Mala Strana, one feels as though Jan Neruda’s Povídky malostranské (Tales of the Little Side) came to life. Other known figures in the cemetery I’m familiar with were Antonín Dvořák, and Alphonse Mucha.

Jan Neruda's grave

Charles Bridge, Prague

 

Charles Bridge is a historic and an important bridge in Prague connecting Prague Castle and the Old Town…it crosses the River Vltava (Moldau). The bridge is full of people crossing by, taking photos and buying souvenirs as the stretch is full of portrait artists, craft sellers, street performers, locals and of course, tourists. The gothic bridge is also lined by statues as old as 1683 and done mostly by known Bohemian sculptors  Matthias Braun and Jan Brokoff.

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From the bridge, the River Moldau can be admired  and enjoyed – bordered by apartments with their charming red and orange roofs, paddleboats, ships and fishing boats passing by add extra attraction.

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This restaurant by the riverside caught my attention. At the farther right is the Kafka Museum which I missed visiting. 🙁 Hubby and I spent a considerable amount of time to see the Dancing House…

At the other end is the bridge tower on the side of Malá Strana (Little Side). This part is another charming area which I will feature in the next posts.

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(black and white, colored photos for sale and bridge tower at the background)

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Prancing in Prague

Eight years ago, one of my closest friend and I agreed to have a rendezvous in Prague. She was there for 5 days and since Vienna is just 5 hours away by train, I thought of meeting her there. Unfortunately, her trip fell on the month when I’ve just given birth to our second son. I wasn’t able to see her there…

So for this visit, I had been thinking of what might have Prague been during her visit. The city is charming, that’s given. Architecture-wise, it has a feel of Vienna – having been an important city for the Habsburgs during Austro-Hungarian Empire and a touch of Rome – having been once the capital of the Roman empire, the influences are obvious. Yet, it still has a distinct fascination all its own.

 

(make believe tickets)

As I mentioned, the trip was about 5 hours. We boarded the train on a Friday, half an hour before 5 o’clock…the kids still had to attend school and hubby left the office a bit earlier. We met up at the train station around 4…That’s at Wien Meidling at Vienna’s 12 district — and from there we had to pass by our district again…too bad they don’t stop at one of the stations nearer our place. Since it’s gonna take us 5 hours, I readied my camera for a lot of drive by shooting. (You’d see those shots on my other blog.)

(Charles Bridge)

We arrived exactly at the expected time, went to find the local trains and it was not hard to do. We just had to  get some change since they still use Czech crown and not Euros. I withdrew a thousand which is about 40Euros (woot! feels like pesos) but we only needed coins for the tickets (32 for adults for 90 minutes and kids below 10 years are free, yes, free ride in Prague for my kids hihi). There are a lot of stores at the Praha hlavní nádraží (English: Prague main railway station, abbreviated Praha hl.n) still open so it was easy to get a change, I bought some postcards and Lays, because we don’t have them here in Vienna lol. Worrywart me easily comes out when travelling at night so the people who keeps looking at me like they wanna rob me or something takes a clear look of don’t you dare from me. Chos! I just stay away and be alert. hihi. Most of the store attendants speak English and others speak German so conversing isn’t much of a problem.

 

Prancing in Prague
(Almost sundown)

 My in-laws who arrived earlier that day fetched us at the train station near our hotel…from the main train station, we took one ride, 5 stations I think and we walked to our hotel with them. It’s less crowded than Manila but certainly busier than Vienna. Ok, I’m paranoid I tell you but knowing how some groups (read: pickpockets) operate won’t be harmful. Stay away from those who have crutches…most of the time it’s just a front…so when we came from the station, there’s a group of men and women already following us. I saw one  with crutches and his companion was really going behind dad-in-law. I walked further behind pulling hubby with me and them to watch and just when we were passing by a club, the one in crutches walked normally…lol. My hunch was true, it’s a good thing dad-in-law walks fast too!

Our first morning was cold but lovely, we walked and walked and walked as far as our shoes can handle the friction…It’s a crowded city alright but you can always find a quiet spot for you to be by yourself enjoying the swans, the water reflection, the beauty of a river that lies quietly.

(To my dear friend Barb, sorry, I’m 8 years too late, but I know we’d see each other in another lovely city soon.)