We left our hotel at 9.30 am after a very nice breakfast, planning to walk up the river to the Charles Bridge, across the river and then up the hill to the castle. Our hotel is two bridges downstream from the Charles Bridge and our room overlooks the river.
It was a fine day, although a little cooler than yesterday. The temperature peaked at 14 degrees, although a slight breeze made it feel a couple of degrees cooler.
It was an interesting walk along the river, past the opera house and a number of old palaces that are now museums or galleries. Across the river, there was a very good view of the ‘new’ town with the castle and the cathedral on top of the hill.
The Charles Bridge is an incredible structure. It is a stone medieval bridge that was completed about 1400. It is about 25 metres wide and over 500 metres long. Each end is guarded by a high tower and at intervals of about 30 to 40 metres, there are a series of baroque statues that line the parapets. The bridge was commissioned by Charles IV in 1357 and must have been an incredible structure of it’s time. It has been flooded at least once, but has had no significant restoration over it’s entire life.
Leaving the bridge, we entered the New Town area. On one corner of the main square is a domed church – St Nicholas (the Czech name for it, and most other places, is almost unrecognizable from my English speaking perspective. Inside, the church is a stunning ornate design with a painted mural ceiling, marble pillars, gold filigree work and the most ornate pulpit that I have ever seen.
From here, we followed our noses in an uphill direction towards the castle. On the way, we passed several cute little shops. One sold christmas tree decorations and another was a little gallery that offered free coffee with every purchase. This was an offer too good to refuse, some bought a little painting and a decorated glass thingumyjig for putting a candle in, and sat down for a nice cup of coffee and looked at all the paintings on display.
We reached the square in front of the castle just in time to see the changing of the guard. Every entrance has a sentry box with soldiers on guard and it was a smart looking ceremony to see a new detachment march to the castle and the old unit hand over duty to them.
After a long look at the entire area, we walked back downhill towards the river. We found a little park for a rest and one which gave us a great view across to the Charles Bridge. The scene showed just how beautiful this city really is.
We walked back across the bridge to our hotel and a past the dozens of little stalls selling jewelry and paintings. There was an organ grinder, complete with stuffed monkey and a jazz band. I think however, that the busker that took the prize was a weird bearded man who played the didgeridoo as well as playing a recorder stuffed up his nostril.