Day 3 -September 25 – continues.
Back on the bus, we were guided through a variety of sites, while making our way to Old Town. The Jewish Ghetto and the Astrological Clock were our destinations. Our guide presented an excellent description of how the clock works. If we were to watch it without the explanation, it would seem like a ripoff because it only animates for about 15 seconds. Understanding the symbolism makes all the difference.
- The Astrological Clock was designed and built in the Early 1400s, before Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
- The top dial is the daily hourly clock; the bottom clock delineates the seasons.
- The verticle hand actually has a golden hand to point out the hour.
- The green partial circle represents the earth – no Americas represented of course since it is pre Chris Columbus.
- Outer ring of 24 numbers delineate the hours of the day. 18 is at the top because their day ran from sun up to sub down; midnight was not a concept they yet embraced.
- We were there at 1pm, which should have been 19, yet it pointed to 18… Due to daylight savings time.
- The glochenspiel was pretty primitive and lasted for only about 20 seconds.
Norm and I now had free time until 4:30pm, so we stopped for a cup of coffee (beer) and an apple strudel. I had a second coffee while Norm climbed the clock tower to get some good overview shots of the Old Town. Here are a couple of them.
(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)
The historical photo shows Hitler overlooking the courtyard from the balcony of the Astronomical Clock Tower at the start of WWII. The massive crowds filled the square below him, astonished that the Germans had rolled into Prague so easily. The Czechs thought they had fortified their borders sufficiently.
Later, we strolled the courtyard and enjoyed watching the activities. The bubble blower collected money for his show of bubbles prior to waving the huge wand in the air. Children as well as adults clapped to catch a bubble.
The ghetto history was also fascinating, and the Jewish Quarter lies adjacent to this area. During the days of the Black Plague, the King wondered why the Jews were not getting sick and dying. Of course, it was because they washed their hands and were forbidden from using the public baths by their religious customs. Not understanding hygiene, the King declared that they were the cause of illness, that they were introducing the sickness into the drinking water. The Jews had built a wall around their community to protect their culture and customs. The King declared they could not be outside their wall and made them wear yellow stars as identification. At one time there were 12000 Jews held captive within these walls they themselves had constructed. (Lesson: Don’t be eager to build a wall!) Their cemetary is 12 deep, six grave levels below ground and six levels above ground. There are seven temples within this area. We may return on our own to tour some of them.
Before we returned to meet with Mihai for a lesson using the metro, we stopped for a local treat in Wenceslas Market. It is called Trdelnik and it consists of bread dough wrapped around a wooden rod and grilled over a wood fire. Yum!
Now to rest feet before tripping lightly over to the metro station!
Ciao for now!