Tuesday 6 November 2012

Prague: Old is New, Less is More

Did you know that it was only in 1992 that UNESCO inscribed the historic center of Prague as a World Heritage Site? The five areas that comprise the historic center are Old Town (Staré Město), Lesser Town (Malá Strana), New Town (Nové Město), the Jewish Quarter (Josefov) and the Castle district (Hradčany). Thanks to the fall of communism in the former Czechoslovakia we can enjoy the beautiful city of Prague today. 

Prague is a very compact city. You can walk almost everywhere! That is if you have the energy. So, after crossing the Charles Bridge from Old Town,  the big K and I found ourselves at Malá Strana or Lesser Town in English. Not exactly sure what's lesser here compared to Old Town since it's not any less beautiful. Malá Strana, located on the left bank of the Vltava river, sits by the foot of the Castle District. The buildings and churches here are mostly in the Baroque style. 

St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town as viewed from Mostecká 
street coming off from the Charles Bridge. 

Entrance of St. Nicholas Church from Nerudova street.

St. Vitus Cathedral inside the Castle District as seen from Mala Strana.

Church of Our Lady of Victory where the miraculous Santo Nino 
de Praga resides.

Feeling a bit tired from all the walking, the big K and I jumped on the tram for the short ride to visit the Pražské Jezulátko otherwise known as the Infant Jesus of Prague or the Santo Nino de Praga (as we Pinoys call Him). The tram dropped us off right in front of the church (tram stop: Hellichova). Perfect!

The church was done in the Baroque style and was smaller than St. Nicholas'. For a pilgrimage site, it was a bit of a surprise to see that there weren't a lot of people visiting that time. We thought that was a good sign as we had the place all to ourselves!

I borrowed this picture from the church's website since photography was not allowed inside the church.

Another borrowed picture of the church's interior. The big K and I could have sneaked in a picture 
or two just like what the other visitors did. But, what can I say? We're law abiding people. Or 
just maybe, too scared of the wrath of God!

Medallions (Kč100 for 10 pieces) and rosary (Kč50) from their gift shop
can be blessed by the resident priest at the Sacristy. The prayer leaflets 
are free.

Another interesting place to visit inside the church is their museum on the second floor where the different robes of the Child Jesus are on display. Most of the robes were gifts from different countries including one from our very own fashion designer, Ben Farrales. If I may give my completely biased opinion, ours was the most impressive of the lot. Completely done in Piña cloth, it was simple yet very elegant! Entrance to the museum is free but any donation will be greatly appreciated.

Care for some sago and gulaman (taro pearls and jelly) drink? 
A Filipino store right across the church.

It was starting to get dark outside by the time the big K and I realized it. But we still had one more stop before heading off to dinner. So we hopped on the tram that took us to Tančící dům otherwise known as the Dancing House in New Town. 

The Dancing House, also nicknamed Fred and Ginger, as seen across the Vltava river.

The Tančící dům was designed in 1992 by Vlado Milunić, a Croatian-Czech architect, together with renowned architect Frank Gehry. During the construction of the building it earned a lot of controversy as its modern design stood out among the surrounding Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings. It helped that the president that time, Václav Havel, supported the project. Plus he owned the lot where the building stood. The Dancing House was finally completed in 1996.

Right about now, our bellies were starting to grumble. Next stop, dinner at New Town!

Next post: Choo-choo Trains!

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