|September 29 - Petrin Hill & the Jewish Quarter
Sleeping in as we have been going non-stop, we arose later than normal and had a leisurely breakfast before heading out the door. Our first destination is Petrin Hill, literally at the end of our Street. The hill is a rather large park capped by a replica of the Eiffel tower.
One of the first sites on the hill is the Monument to Victims of Communism Who Survived - the figures are gradually atrophied by the totalitarian regime; they do not die but gradually disappear! Continuing on by the beautiful roses and other flowers we head to the funicular to ride up the hill. There is a long line, but it moves quickly and we manage to get on the second tram going up! Perhaps a 10 minute wait! The good news is anyone over 70 rides Prague public transport free; the bad news is they did not even check our ID just waved us through!
We wandered around looking for the perfect photo spot for an overview of Prague, to no avail. We did see the the Petrin Tower (Eiffel Tower replica) with a rather lengthy line to climb the 400 steps for those amazing views of Prague - we chose not to do the climb! There is also the Cathedral of St. Lawrence with the the 12 stations of the cross throughout the courtyard. We then took the funicular down halfway where there is a restaurant and some rather spectacular views of Prague castle. We decided it would be the perfect spot for dinner later this evening so made 7:00pm reservations.
Back down the hill to find The Lennon Wall, a graffiti memorial filled wall spontaneously appeared after John Lennon’s death in 1980. Night after night the police would paint over the wall only to have it reappear day after day until independence came in 1989. The wall is remembered as a place that gave hope to locals craving freedom. Across a small canal we found a charming small cafe for lunch, chicken with potato pancake for Judi B and spinach salad with mozzarella cheese and avocado for me.
Walked across the Charles Bridge (not nearly as crowded today as yesterday!) to check out the Jewish Quarter. As the Nazis decimated Jewish communities in the region, the Prague Jews were allowed to collect and archive their treasures; the archivists ultimately died in concentration camps but their work survived. There are seven sights in a three block area making up the Jewish Quarter. The Maisel Synagogue built during the 16th century as a private synagogue by the Maisel family. The one-room exhibit shows a thousand years of Jewish history in Bohemia and Moravia. In WWII it served as a warehouse for the accumulated treasures of decimated Jewish communities that Hitler planned to use for his “Museum of the Extinct Jewish Race”.
Other sites in the Jewish Quarter are the Spanish Synagogue (closed for repair); Pinkas Synagogue; Old Jewish Cemetery; Ceremonial Hall; Klaus Synagogue; and the Old-New Synagogue. The Pinkas today is a memorial to the victims of the Nazis, with the names of 77,297 Czech Jews who were sent from here to the gas chambers with their hometowns, family name, first name, birthday and last date known to be alive. The names had to be rewritten after 1989 as the communists had erased everything. The old Jewish Cemetery with 12,000 tombstones piled atop each other was the only burial ground allowed for the Jews of Prague from 1439 until 1787.
Finding our way to the tram stop we headed home for happy hour prior to heading up the funicular for dinner. We both had chicken with lemon risotto and wine! Another delicious meal to end a fun educational day! jc