The last Saturday in November is always a special day. For the last eight years I always start my vacation on this day and always go to Old Town Square in Prague for the start of the Christmas Markets and the lighting of the tree. Over 40,000 people showed up for the opening despite the shadow of a terror threat.
Always a spectacular scene with the red roofs of the markets, the 80 foot Christmas tree adorned with 20,000 lights, with a backdrop of the medieval square’s Tyn Church and the Chapel of St. Micheal, always create a festive and romantic atmosphere.
The small lanes leading to the square with the Christmas Tree in the background create such a magnificent scene that one is anxiously drawn into the square for the celebrations of choirs from around Europe.
Of course the food is always a highlight after the initial awe of the spectacle. Fire roasted Prague Ham and Sausages are quite delicious, as well as the pastry known as Trdelnik, a sweet pastry baked over an open fire and coals, originating in Transylvania, but now the culinary heritage of several European countries.
The markets go until the 2nd week of January so there is plenty of time to experience this magical time, as all the squares of Prague are adorned with trees and Christmas Markets.
Above the Vltava River is a small cliff side jutting out from the river which is said to be the first settlement of the Czechs. Known as Vysehrad, the hilltop fortress was the seat of power before Prague existed and before the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the IV, built his new royal residence where Prague Castle sits today.
Most tourists miss this area, wich is nice because it is still quite peaceful and not overrun by them. Today the site is dominated by the 17th century ramparts and fortifications, but as you pass the remnants of Medieval gates you come across, Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, the Tábor and Leopold gates, parts of the Romanesque bridge, the Romanesque rotunda of St. Martin, and Vyšehrad Cemetery.
Unlike cemeteries in the United States, the Czech cemeteries, even those that are not filled with the famous or historical are all National Geographic Moments. Beds of flowers will outline a grave or tomb, all are visited quite frequently and tended to by relatives. Some graves have generations of family members beneath the hallowed ground who are cared for by the descendants. It can be quite a peaceful and tranquil experience.
by Leopard Print Photography, Photos by Bruno Galle
There is an ever changing wall on a hidden side street away from the common touristy streets at Velkopřevorské náměstí known as the Lennon Wall. After John Lennon’s death in 1980 young Czechs made a memorial to john at the wall with lyrics and political messages. The secret police continuously painted over the wall as well as jailed anyone playing western music.
The wall however never stayed white washed for long as the peace loving youth continued to use the wall to paint political grievances against the communist government and of course continued to add pictures of John Lennon and and lyrics from his and the Beatles music.
Owned by the Knights Of Malta, who have an embassy near by the wall, even after the fall of communism is constantly changing. A picture you take this month could easily be replaced by another. Czechs and tourists from all over continue to this day to add to the ever changing John Lennon Wall.