09.08.2011 - 09.08.2011 24 °C
Another early start today as I wanted to try and make it to Prague before lunch time. The drive to Prague was really beautiful. I told the Tom Tom to avoid the toll roads from Dresden to Prague so the sat nav took me along all of the back roads between the two cities which was just great.
Between Dresden and the Czech border the landscape is quite hilly and heavily forested, making my trip quite magical. After leaving the border the terrain became much more flat and was heavily cultivated with what looks like wheat and sunflower fields. Again really nice to drive through. The other thing I loved is the fact that every 5km or so you would come across another tiny town that had clearly been there since the mid-1500s... Just awesome.
Got into Prague and found my digs without too many issues. Plunked my stuff in my room and put my car into a garage (at 20 E per night!!!!) and went for a wander down into the Old Town. Well Prague wipes the other cities off the map for a beautiful Old Town... My gosh it is just incredible and at least triple the size of the one in Krakow (which has been the biggest one I’ve seen yet). I spent the afternoon just goggling at the buildings and snapping pictures just as fast as I could. The centrepiece to the town is the Astronomical Clock. It was built in the 1500s and shows not only the time, but the date, the year and the placement of the moon in regards to the heavens (ala sign of the zodiac). It is absolutely splendid! It also plays music every hour with these cute mechanical men... Really cool!
I signed myself up to go on a ghost tour so I went and had some dinner whilst I was waiting. The ghost tour was just great! Prague is supposed to be one of the most haunted cities in the world and so for an hour and a half a guide took us on a tour of the city pointing out some of the dodgier aspects of the city. The thing that fascinated me most was the “underground”. Underneath Prague is kilometres of tunnels, caverns, cellars etc. that have been there since the early 1100s (the city was first built in about 900AD)—some of these can be entered and apparently you often see weird apparitions etc. moving around under the ground.. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) we didn’t see anything strange... but it sure is spooky walking under the city carrying lanterns!
I thought I’d put down a couple of the weirder legends that the guide told us about Prague. Firstly, the guy who designed the Astronomical clock in the mid 1500s killed himself by jumping off the top of the clock’s tower. He killed himself after the town’s council had his eyes removed so that he couldn’t go and build a replica clock in another town in Europe. To enact revenge on the council, before he jumped to his death he sabotaged his clock’s gears so that until the mid-1800s the clock actually didn’t work—he then jumped off the tower so that no-one could fix the clock!
Secondly, a child was sacrificed to ensure that one of the palaces in the city could be built without having any mishaps! Apparently, you can still hear the wailing of the child late at night!!! (I couldn’t)
Ghosts apparently regularly appear at one of the old churches in town where many of the old councillors and ruling lords are buried... One of them was even apparently buried alive! (they know this because they put him in a locked mausoleum only to find him out of his casket and dead on the floor in another part of the crypt). At this particular church we were encouraged to take lots of photos because apparently there is often strange lights and effects that are found on your camera (which are supposed to be the energies from the ghosts)... I’d like to say that I got some “energies” on my camera but…………………..
Anyway, really great night and I have to say that walking back to the digs I was more than slightly spooked…………….