Prague, Part 6 – Old Town hall, Tower Climb & the Churches of Old town

This post is a continuation of a series documenting our travels through a small part of Central Europe. In my last few posts I have waxed eloquent about the Czech capital of Prague & I will continue to do so in these last posts. Prague is a beautiful city and inspite of all the crowds is certainly worth a prolonged visit.

On the day we left for Karlstejn we had a few hours to roam about in the morning. It was a beautiful sunny day in the Czech capital and tailor made for a walk around old town. The centre of attraction in the old town is the square itself where we had spent quite some time on the previous 2 nights in Prague.  So that morning we decided to visit the town hall which had a climbable tower. I am a sucker for climbs and views and since we had the time it was temptation I couldn’t resist.

We started the day with a heavy breakfast in the cafe of our superb Hotel Hastal. This gem of a family run hotel had proved to be the perfect base for roaming around old town at any time of the day.

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The elegant reception and lobby of the Hotel Hastal
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Small but beautifully decorated public spaces where I had numerous cups of great coffee

We then walked to the town hall and were surprised to see no line at all to buy tickets. The lady at the counter said we were the first people there! Also there was no need to exert ourself,  a elevator straight from a sci fi movie was there to take us to the top of the tower.

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The futuristic elevator shaft inside the old town hall building!

As we got to the top we had the whole viewing terrace to ourselves for a good 15-20 minutes before some other tourists joined us at the top. The terrace has an iron grill all around, not so good for photography but necessary considering the number of drunks around! The tower has the best views over the most beautiful square in Prague. I had a great time taking photos of the old town (from in between the bars of the grill!) spread out below and Prague castle beyond.

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The Huss Memorial & the iconic Tyn Church from the town hall tower
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The red tiled roofs and Prague castle in the distance, Petrin hill tower is a speck on the left!
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My favourite perspective – looking down at the town hall below
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Pretty architecture everywhere you turn!

After spending half an hour on top of the town hall tower we descended and went to visit the town hall which is included in the price of visiting the tower when we visited. The vast rooms are decorated sparsely. Also since the astronomical clock was out for restoration we couldn’t see the statues that march out every hour from the inside.

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The space where the clock & the statues are usually located
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The sparse elegant walls and ceilings of the old town hall

One piece that strikes out in this otherwise plain collection of furniture is a gilded stove from the 17th century. It was so pretty I wondered how they could put burning coals & wood is such a beautiful piece of art.

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The gilded stove in the Old town hall

There is also a huge session chamber which is dominated by two huge paintings which span almost the entire chamber. Sadly I could only take decent photos of one of these as the other didn’t have favourable light and most of the room is cordoned off.

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The huge painting in the Session chamber of the town hall

The last room that we visited had three beautiful chandeliers that were a great subject for photos in the otherwise plain room. The room also had a bust of King Charles who also seemed to be admiring the huge chandeliers overhead.

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 Beautiful Chandeliers that catch the eye! 

After completing our town hall visit we crossed the square and visited the Tyn Church which has a soaring roof and is a lot brighter than most churches I have been to. Sadly photography is not allowed inside so I don’t have any photos to show of this beautiful church. So we just did our routine of walking through the church. Sitting in the pews for a few minutes before heading out.

We then walked out and across the Ungelt courtyard to the next beautiful church on the walk , the Church of St James. Most people don’t visit the church interiors as they feel that all look the same. To me they are a sanctuary which are always quiet & peaceful even when the streets are filled with tourist crowds. As an added bonus they are symmetrical and always decked from roof to floor, making it a dream to photograph. Just follow the basics and you can’t get a bad photo of a church interior!

St James Church was no different. Gilded and painted ceilings, Bronze statues, a sumptuously decorated altar and a grand organ at the rear end of the church. I get giddy with delight at such interiors and take far too many photos.

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The interior of St James Church in Old town – Just a handful of people enjoying it!

As you walk toward the altar the efforts taken to decorate the place of worship become more and more impressive. The old pulpits decorated like a kings throne show the importance that religious leaders had. While the paintings depict the same stories from the life of Christ or the saint the church is dedicated to, each artist has his / her own take. It’s these variations that make these statues and paintings interesting and unique.

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The pulpit on the left and the amazing painted ceiling
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The impressive altar of the St James Church
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The Grand organ at the rear end of the Church

After satisfying the camera here, which had been grumbling at the Tyn church we walked out after finishing our church routine. We then walked out and towards the ” Powder Tower” visible in the distance. The tower which was used to store gunpowder was the front door of Prague in the 1400s at was on the road which connected Vienna to Prague. It’s the only part of the wall remaining that encircled Prague old town as the remaining was torn down as the town expanded.

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The Powder Tower of Prague

We passed through the front door and out of Old town ( We were technically in New Town now!) went towards the Municipal House which hosts a lot of concerts. While we had no time for a concert, we certainly had time enough to marvel at its beautiful facade and see the interiors which are free to visit. The over the top Art Nouveau architecture is pleasing to the eye and I was sad that I didn’t have time for a concert there. Maybe when I visit Prague again someday!

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The facade of the Municipal House
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Art Nouveau interiors of the Municipal house

It had been a great morning of sightseeing walking around the Old town and actually visiting the sights we had passed in the previous 2 days. But it was now time for us to head back to our hotel soon as we had to take our day bag and catch the train to Karlstejn. So we turned back into Old town from the Namesti Republiky or Republic Square after taking a few photos.

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Namesti Republiky – The Republic Square at Prague – The left side is old town and the right new town

I have already written about our time in Karlstejn (Karlstejn – A relaxing day in a quiet Castle town) where we recharged our batteries for a last eventful day in Prague. We would visit the Wenceslas Square and the sights of New Town Prague, visit some Jewish Quarter sights, the Lennon wall, more churches, enjoy my last beer and goulash & enjoy a romantic riverside walk.

But that is topic for another post or maybe 2 posts some other day, some other time. I just have far too many photos and far too many memories of Prague that I wish to document for myself so please bear with me!

Till next time,

Ahoj!

 

 

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