A Castle on a Hill in PragueMonday, May 21, 2012
Prague, Czech Republic
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One of the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Prague, the landmark building was designed in 1900 and became famous in the Twenties and Thirties for its cabaret, cinema and theater and is on the list of historic sights in Prague's Old Town. An elegant elevator glides up and down between swooshes and curves of burnished brass.
The breakfast room sits on stilts above the old stage, surrounded by plexiglass to give a floating feel to our morning buffets.
Today we're exploring the gardens of the magnificent palaces below Castle Hill. The Waldenstein Palace and Gardens were built by an army officer with his rewards from the Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants. The palace is now part of the Czech Senate, and the expansive gardens are open to the public. That grey drip-castle wall in the back left is an artificial grotto.
Look closely and you'll discover faces, a snake, a frog....
Showy peacocks announce themselves with shrieks, gracefully strutting their beauty.
A Sala Terrena (outdoor living room) is lavishly frescoed, and sometimes the setting for al fresco concerts.
The prettiest way up to the castle is Nerudova Street, where the homes still display their pre-number ID - this house was known as the Three Fiddles,
There's a Green Lobster, the Three Suns, the Black Oak, the Golden Swan... until the late 1700's when Maria Theresa ordered houses to be numbered, homes and businesses were identified in this way.
Almost to the castle, we look down at the colorful facades as we walk.
We're early enough to grab a great spot to watch the noon changing of the guard at the castle. Just before the hour, the new platoon marches to the first courtyard from the barracks further up the hill.
Spiffy in their cool uniforms (designed by the man who also did the costumes for Amadeus, much of which was filmed up by the castle) and spotless white gloves, they go through the drill to the tune of a Czech rock-star composed fanfare - always entertaining to watch.
Our usual pleasant walk through more beautiful gardens is foiled today - sewer repairs going on beneath the castle gardens. So we walk down another path to one of our Prague favorites, U Zlaty Studny - The Golden Well.
What a perfect day for lunch on the terrace!
And the food is as fabulous as the view, from a main course of Seafood and Risotto
to a dessert of pale lime fluff and berry garnish - each plate as beautiful as it is delicious.
This evening's concert is an organ, trumpet and vocal program, and we're welcomed to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi by herald trumpeters.
Walking through Old Town Square on the way "home", we enjoy the golden-lit towers of Tyn Church.