Wednesday 19 December 2012

Petrin Tower and the Jewish Quarter, take 2

The Observation Tower at Petrin Hill is Prague's equivalent to the Eiffel Tower except that it is a whole lot shorter at 63 meters as compared to the Eiffel's height of 320. But then again the Petrin Tower is located on a 318 meter high hill giving it a good view of the city.  
The Petrin Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition much like the Eiffel Tower during the 1889 World's Fair.
The tower is surrounded by an extensive rose garden. The building to the right is the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence. 
To get to the tower, you either walk up the hill (a good 30-40 minute hike) or take the funicular (included in the transport pass) from Ujezd street in Mala Strana. The big K and I of course took the latter to save our energy for more sightseeing later in the day.

The tower has two observation platforms that can be accessed by stairs encircling the inside of the tower. Going up was a little bit scary as you can feel the tower swaying. Either it was the strong wind that time or the tower was showing its age but as soon as we got to the top, it was all worth it. 
Great view of Lesser Town, Old Town and the popular tourist-filled Charles Bridge from the top most platform.
Saint Vitus Cathedral inside the Prague Castle complex.
New Town and the Tancici Dum (Dancing House) across the Vltava river.
Cathedral of Saint Lawrence
After having our fill of the great views of the city and with tons of pictures taken, the big K and I planned to go back to the Jewish Quarter. It was a nice cool sunny day, perfect time for a walk in the park. So, we decided to walk back down the hill to Mala Strana to catch the tram that would take us to the Jewish Quarter.
Ceremonial Hall at the Jewish Quarter
Tombstones at the Old Jewish Cemetery.
According to the Halakha (religious laws for Jews), Jews must not destroy Jewish graves nor remove tombstones in their cemetery. So when space ran out to bury the dead, old tombstones were taken out so a new layer of soil can be added on the existing grave. The old tombstones were then re-erected on the new layer of soil together with the new tombstone. This explains why the tombstones are so close to each other. In this particularly small cemetery the graves are twelve layers deep! Some claim there are more than 100,000 burials!
The oldest grave in the cemetery belongs to the Prague rabbi and poet, Avigdor Kara (1439).
The bronze statue of Prague's famous writer Franz Kafka near the Spanish Synagogue. Born to a middle class Jewish family, Kafka spent most of his life at the Jewish Quarter. His works are known for their bizarre, surrealistic and nightmarish themes that inspired the term "Kafkaesque".  

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