Noilly Prattle: Charles, Karel, Karl . . . everywhere

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Charles, Karel, Karl . . . everywhere

Karluv Most 
Karlstejn Castle
The 14th Century Kingdom of Bohemia (as the Czech Republic was then known) under Charles IV (Karel IV in Czech, Karl IV in German) is remembered as a Golden Age in the present day Czech Republic. Charles is revered as the “father of the country” and his namesakes are everywhere, especially in Prague, and most especially in the Karluv Most (Charles Bridge) across the Vltava (Moldau) River. The largest of his namesakes, Karlštejn Castle, however, is located some 30 km. outside the city, about an hour's train ride, and thus an easy day trip.

village of Karlstejn
you talkin' to me?
We took one and visited Karlštejn (Karl's stone) recently leaving Prague around noon. You have to walk about 2 km. from the station, mostly uphill, through the castle town also called Karlštejn. The road, of course, is lined on both sides with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops offering all kinds of merchandise from Nazi helmets to colorful wigs. 

c'mon make my day...
Ignoring these (in the sense of buying, not looking) we trekked up the hill towards the castle entrance. The last kilometer or so is a considerable uphill slope that prompted a rest and hydration break so we stopped at a little cafe just outside the castle gate for some iced tea. Upon leaving I spotted a stuffed animal in the road and wondered what the hell it was doing there. It begged for a photo, so I took out my (t)rusty camera and started framing a shot when I heard a low growl and looked up and saw this terrier eyeing me. The shop lady said the stuffed frog was its toy. So I apologized to the dog and snapped his/her picture standing protectively over the frog and giving me a not very friendly look.

Bohemian crown
Photos will speak for the castle and surroundings, but I'll just add that our tour guide, a very engaging and entertaining young guy, spoke wistfully of the era of Karl IV while showing us the replica of his really quite beautiful crown (photos not permitted, of course, but...). He said that Czech people could only be proud when they looked at Karl's crown which goes on display once in a blue moon. He wished they could see it more often and, presumably, be filled with patriotic fervor. When I thought about it I realized that these people have lived subjected to outside powers, most recently under the Nazis and the Soviet Union for a generation or two or three and the notion of independence isn't yet absorbed into their national spirit. But, if this young fellow is any example, they are going to make it.

marketing everywhere - nothing is sacred

entrance to main castle buildings

well tower

view from well tower

village viewed from the ramparts

late afternoon sun

self evident
We were pretty whacked out by the time we got back to Prague, so much so that we forgot to change trains in the metro and had to back track when we realized our mistake. By then it was sunset and we crossed to the going-in-the-other-direction platform with the setting sun streaming into the station. Day was done and we were more rather than less ready to hang it up for the day, too.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful description of your day. Did you know that my kin were from Bohemia? Interesting, indeed. In fact, will be going to Louisiana in two weeks, where they landed; Baton Rouge, to start their lives here. Wonder what they were leaving…why.

They left before the Nazis but what was the 'flavor' towards Jews before, I wonder? Any sense?

It looked like a charming day, indeed.

Having trouble reading the type you chose. Maybe I should go back to bed, again?

oxox R

Noilly Prattle said...

Oh, so you are "la boheme"? Seems like that period between the wars saw the growth of right wing fascist groups some of which ran on anti-Semitic party platforms. Probably your ancestors saw the familiar handwriting on the wall and left.

Anonymous said...

oh dear…I got it wrong. Bavaria. They both start with B's right?


Noilly Prattle said...

Ya, but that's about the extent of the similarity. We went to Bavaria for a couple operas in Munich while we were in Prague (old Bohemia).