Destination: Karlstejn Castle and Czech America

Although the Czech Republic is a small country, they have a lot of things to see.

My dear readers, I apologize for the irregular updates.  Our schedule has been packed these past few days and I literally didn’t have time to open my computer.

Anyhow, the next leg of our tour took us to the Karlstejn Castle and Czech America.

Karlstejn Castle is a castle that was built by the Charles IV to protect the crown jewels of the Bohemian kingdom.  Like any other castle it is situated in a steep hill which made invasion difficult for all its unwanted intruders.

Taking pictures inside the castle was prohibited so I can only show you an aerial view of the castle.

However, the things to be seen and explored inside the castle makes up for the steep climb.  All tours are guided and can be availed in both Czech or English.

Aside from its amazing architecture, what was interesting for me were the relics that were supposedly hidden inside the castle.  In one of its chapel walls, a relic from the cross where Jesus was crucified was believed to have been imbedded in there.  If you are into architecture, European history and religion, this is definitely a must for you.  More information about the castle can be found here.

Another great spot to visit as a side trip to Karlstejn is Czech America.

This place is called Czech America because it resembles an American canyon.  During the summertime, you can find locals taking a dip in its pristine waters.  Although it may look natural, this place is actually a side product of quarrying.  It is not commonly found in tourist books since it hasn’t been officially developed as a major tourist site.  But for the inquisitive and adventurous travellers, this is one place worth checking out.  More information about this place can be found here.

Have a great weekend!

Destination: Kutná Hora

If you have ever been on a group tour to Prague, you must’ve visited Kutná Hora.

Kutná Hora is one of the most visited sites in the Czech Republic.  In it stands the famous St. Barbara Church, with its distinct gothic structure.

Front view of St. Barbara Church

Adjacent to the church, you will also find the Jesuit University.  This university houses different types of art exhibits, showcasing Czech artists and a few other artists in Europe.

At the side of the church, there is a viewpoint that provides breath-taking views of the town.

A visit to Kutna Hora is not complete without walking its cobbled streets…..

A visit to the Italian Court, the former King of Bohemia’s weekend house, is not to be missed.

For an amazing view of the St. Barbara Church as a background to your pictures, there is a viewpoint in the adjoining park.

For more information about Kutná Hora, please visit this site.

An Eventful Weekend

Despite the scorching heat this past weekend, it was a very eventful one.  On Saturday, friends from Prague and Brno came to visit us.

Picnic at the park

Jakub had a new favorite buddy –  Kuya Mico.

He always likes to play with big boys.

On Sunday, they bonded again because we went to Prague for the FCA dragonboat recreational activity.

While the kids were checking out the boats, we were paddling on the river.

The dragonboat activity exceeded my expectations.  In a scale of 1 to 10 for fun, it was a 10!  I got nervous in the beginning fearing that the boat would capsize because all the paddlers were amateurs.  But we amazingly did well.  Thanks to a great team and wonderful coach –  FCA President Marison Rodriguez.  The Prague Dragonboat Club were gracious enough to let us use their boat and their facilities, and the generous members of FCA brought yummy food, so the bbq portion that followed the activity was equally enjoyable.

With fun activities, good food and good friends, this weekend was one of the best I’ve had here in Czech.

Photos courtesy of Arnel Cueto and Glenn Sanchez

Pruhonice Park: A Romantic Park in Prague

Pruhonice Park is a great place for nature lovers and those looking for romantic walks in Prague.  Located southeast of Prague, the park is approximately 15kms away from the city center.

My favorite spot in the park is the Chateau overlooking the pond.  On a great day, you can almost see its image directly reflected on the pond below it.

We visited this park in March this year and were only able to catch the remnants of winter, but the place itself was already beautiful.  I haven’t been back since but I can already imagine what it looks like now.

There are several species of flowers and trees lining the path and it is arranged in a way that it respects natural terrain but offering nice viewpoints.

As we went further into the park, this is what we saw.

This is just one of those flowers surrounding the whole area.

There is also a botanical garden inside the park but we didn’t visit it during that time because the flowers were not yet in full bloom.

Artificial bridges can also be found at designated spots for easy transfer to key spots areas.  There are marked trails for long and short walks.

Pruhonice Park is definitely one of my favorite places in Prague.  If you are ever in the area, you may want to check it out too.

More information about the park can be found here.

Kouřim: Remnants of an “It” Town

Kouřim is a historical city located 45kms east of Prague.  During the 13th to the 16th century, it used to be one of the most important cities in Bohemia.    The first 300 years of existence of Kouřim as a city experienced bloom and prosperity that was seriously untouched even by the Hussite wars. In 1421, it surrendered without a fight to the approaching troops to remain spared. The end of the Hussite wars and the subsequent secularization of church property brought a huge economic boost to the city.  At the turn of the 15th and 16th century, Kouřim stood in the zenith of power and wealth.

The first harbinger of the end of the “golden age” of the city was the year 1547, when Kouřim actively participated in the rebellion against the Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg.  But that was suppressed and the town suffered severe punishment in the form of economic sanctions, especially the confiscation of almost all of its landed property. Horrible disasters followed including the Thirty Years War where the city was repeatedly looted by passing troops. Although in 1648 the Peace of Westphalia ends the greatest horrors, it is unfortunate that at the end of the 16th century, it was further  decimated by religious oppression, plague and a series of fires.

Today, Kouřim stands as a favorite destination for history lovers.

The Kourim town square

Relative to the size of the city, it has a pretty big town square.  In it is found the Statue of the Virgin Mary  which was built in 1850.

Also found in the square is a huge rock, called Prokopu Velikemu to commemorate the battle of Lipan.

(Rickard, J. (12 October 2000), Battle of Lipan,

But perhaps the biggest attraction in Kouřim is the Church of St. Stephen, which has a unique Romanesque Gothic style, and is one of the oldest churches in Europe, built sometime during the 13th century.

So if you are visiting the Czech Republic and would love to know more about its history, Kouřim is definitely a “must see” spot for you.

Sources:  Mesto Kouřim, Wikipedia

Easter Fever

Next to Christmas, Easter is the biggest celebration here in Czech.  Although there a number of Christians in the Czech Republic, its is not a serious religious celebration.  Easter is now limited to the beginning of spring since during the Communist era, its religious connotations were suppressed.

The other day my husband asked me to buy a whip for my son.  Yes, a whip(pomlázka).  Not to whip him, but to whip me.  It is a long held tradition over here for men/boys to whip the women during Easter.  It is believed that whipping chases away illnesses and bad spirits and bring health and youth for the rest of the year to anyone who is whipped.  In return, girls reward boys  with a painted egg, or a candy.

Since it will be our first Easter here, we are celebrating it with my husband’s family.  I do not know how to make a whip or hand-paint eggs so I bought them from the Easter market.  Easter markets are also very popular over here.  Like Christmas markets, you get to see crafts and  food items sold in the stalls.  The atmosphere is generally festive and both locals and foreigners flock these markets.

Prague Old Town Easter Market

In my husband’s family, boys outnumber girls.  I expect  a lot of whipping and a lot more eggs.   When my husband told me about this tradition, I thought it was weird.  It gets even weirder when Easter Sunday is actually celebrated on Monday.