Since I was in Prague for half business, half pleasure, and we wound up visiting many of its popular sites more than once, instead of doing a timeline-based travelogue, I will instead dedicate each post in this series to an area or monument in Prague.
Please forgive in advance any funny typos involving y or z – I have my keyboard set to Czech so I can type the accents, and which also swaps y and z 🙂
Basilica of St. Peter and Paul, Vyšehrad
We’ll start with the lovely outlying neighborhood of Vyšehrad, where I spent much of the trip, since that’s where the company-paid hotel was.
I stayed at the decidedly un-lovely Holiday Inn Congress Center for the first 8 nights:
Hoilday Inn Congress Center
Aside from the rather important fact that it was not on my dime, this hotel did have a few nice features. 1) it was just a few steps from the beautiful Vyšehrad park and a short walk from the Vltava River, 2) their breakfast buffet was excellent, and 3) it was just a few Metro stops from the company office.
Leopold´s Gate, 1670AD
Just off of Pankrac is Leopold’s Gate, a relic from the Baroque period of Vyšehrad Castle. According to prague.cz, Vyšehrad was founded in the 10th century AD as competition to nearby Prague Castle, and was the seat of the first Bohemian king, King Vratislav II and the following Premyslid dynasty, ending in around 1140.
Rotunda of St. Martin, ca. 1100AD
A short walk past a school for the disabled and a cafe is the Rotunda of St. Martin, possibly the oldest building in Prague, and one of the only buildings in Vyšehrad to survive the leveling of the area in 1420 when Hussites defeated King Zikmud in the Battle of Vyšehrad.
City views from the old castle walls
Continuing right past the rotunda leads to a walkway atop ancient ramparts, and featuring excellent views of central Prague. Numerous benches and a couple of signs explaining the skyline invite the visitor to enjoy a stroll.
Basilica of St. Peter and Paul
Down and around from the rampart walk, the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul commands attention, with its mixed architecture and tall towers.
This church has had an eventful history, first built as a Romanesque basilica, the rebuilt in the 14th centurz in the high Gothic style by Charles IV, again as a Baroque church in the 1720s, with neo-Gothic additions in the 1800s. Its two towers were added in 1902 and 1903.
The three front doors of the basilica are particularly beautiful, featuring the crossed key motif of the Premyslids, and attractive mosaics above the secondary doors:
Basilica of St. Peter and Paul main door
Left-side door mosaic
Right-side door detail
Right-side door mosaic
I´m afraid I have no idea about the significance of either of the gilt mosaic motifs above the side doors – if you do, please leave a comment!
A pair of grotesque carvings flank each door:
Grotesque faces on the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul – click for larger views
The grounds around the basilica are grassy with mature trees, and locals clearly enjoyed after-work walks here, for obvious reasons.
Basilica and branches
To the basilica´s right is a wonderful cemetery (see the next post for that), and to its left a natural area with a few large statues.
Woodpigeon / Columba palumbus
Although I heard many birds here, I saw but a couple, here a Woodpigeon (LIFER!), which doesn´t look very different from our feral pigeons.
Now that’s an interesting question!
On the other side of the Holiday Inn is Congress Center, a large convention center complete with a casino, which was guarded by heavily armed soldiers for a couple of days when the EU summit was held here.
Main freeeway through Prague
A footbridge leads across the main freeway to a quiet residential district where I had a very good dinner of roasted pork knee, but which has little else to entice the traveler, unless you really want to visit a Libyan-owned hotel and casino to thumb your nose at US embargoes.
It´s too bad Vyšehrad is not in most tour guides, as I found it a very welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of touristy central Prague, but that very omission likely contributes to its charm.
To get here, take the Red Metro to the Vyšehrad stop and walk away from the freeway, toward the tall towers of St. Peter and Paul.
- Part 1: Vysehrad <– You are here
- Part 2: Vysehradsky hrbitov (Vysehrad cemetery)
- Part 3: Karluv Most (Charles Bridge)
- Part 4: Vaclavske namesti (Wenceslas Square)
- Part 5: Letecke Muzeum Kbely (Czech Air Force Museum)
- Part 6: Stare Mesto (Old Town)
- Part 7: Staromestske namesti (Old Town Square)
- Part 8: Prazsky orloj (Astronomical Clock)
- Part 9: Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
- Part 10: Vltava River
- Part 11: St. Nicholas Cathedral (Chram sv. Mikulase)
- Part 12: Wallenstein Palace (Valdstejnsky palac)
- Part 13: Kampa Island
- Part 14: Mala Strana street art
- Part 15: Petrin Hill
- Part 16: Mala Strana
- Part 17: Mala Strana house signs
- Part 18: Strahovský klášter (Strahov Monastery)
- Part 19: Schwarzenberský palác (Schwarzenberg Palace)
- Part 20: Toy Musuem
- Part 21: St. Vitus Cathedral gargoyles
- Part 22: St. Vitus Cathedral (exterior)
- Part 23: St. Vitus Cathedral (interior)
- Part 24: Prazky Hrad (Prague Castle), I
- Part 25: Prazky Hrad (Prague Castle), II