Prague/Old Town and Josefov

Old Town Square

The right bank section of District Prague 1, the oldest settled area, consists of the Old Town of Prague (Czech: Staré město) and the Jewish Town (Czech: Josefov).

Understand

The Jewish Quarter lends itself to exploration, contemplation and a deeper understanding of what Prague's Jews have endured throughout the centuries. Paradoxically, Hitler is to thank for the Quarter's continued existence - he intended to create an "Exotic Museum of an Extinct Race" here after the end of the war.

Get in

Metro A station "Staromestska" or metro B station Namesti republiky.

See

The Astronomical Clock
The Charles Bridge leading to the Old Town
Old New Synagogue
Built in 1410 and thought of as an example of 15th century hi-tech device, projected with participation of math and astronomy professor at Prague University. The mail dial is in principle mechanical astrolabe, showing not only the current time, but also the placement of Sun and Moon in Zodiac, phase of the moon, time of sunrise and sunset, length of astronomical night, time in old Bohemian hours, in unequal hours and other data. From gathering crowds, hardly anybody understands all data astronomical dial displays.
Then there is a slow-moving 12-month calendar with incredibly delicate, small figure paintings by 19th century Czech painter Josef Manes. Every day on the hour, the upper, glockenspiel-style section of the clock performs the same scene: Death waves an hourglass, the 12 apostles shuffle past small windows, and a rooster crows. After the hour strikes, a Turk wags his head.
Long after the Turks had ceased to be a threat in Central Europe, their use as an allegorical figure in genre paintings and other art continued. The Czechs often sided with the Hungarians in various battles against increasing imperial power as exercised by the ruling Habsburg family over their dominions, and though the Turks never occupied Prague as they did Budapest, both countries' artists used "the Turk" (a dark-complected figure, usually wearing a turban) to represent the dangers of the world, and especially threats to Christianity. In the astronomical clock, the Turk is meant to be the stranger.
There is a legend about the clock that states the original master builder of its interior clockworks was blinded by the King who commissioned it after the work was completed so the mechanic could never build such a wonderful clock for someone else.
Lovers of Art Nouveau should bless the memories of the Prague Civic Society's officials, because the Obecní dům would become one of the most beautiful examples of Art Nouveau in Prague, filled with artwork by the best Czech artists of the day. Neo-Baroque, neo-Renaissance, Western and Oriental influences – all combined with traditional Czech Art Nouveau. This is what makes the Obecnàdum unique among many beautiful examples of Art Nouveau public buildings in Prague. While the exterior is impressive, the interior is both finely crafted and educational. Almost every prominent living Czech artist worked on the Obecní dům. Painters Mikoláš Aleš, Václav Jansa, Alfons Mucha, Jakub Obrovský, Jan Preisler, Josef Wenig, Karel Spillar, Max Švabinský, Josef Ullman, František Zenoek, and the sculptors Josef Maratka, Josef Václav Myslbek, Karel Novak, Ladislav Šaloun, František Uprka, Bohumil Kafka and Čeněk Vosmík carved out an astounding backdrop for the many historical events that would transpire here. Though their contributions are not conspicuously noted, in some cases (such as Alfons Mucha's Mayoral Hall) it is obviously which artist decorated what room.

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