Budapest and Prague – Part 4.

Okay, now I’m going to cover a few basics about Prague. Apparently in the Communist countries, they were really keen on having insanely long and sharp-angled escalators into the subway. They’re so long that halfway through you get disoriented and start tipping backwards because your internal gyroscope is confused. I have a picture I took, but it’s difficult to really capture the length and steepness of these things. Take my word for it.

I learned a few days into my trip that “y” at the end of a word makes it plural (sort of like our “s”). I walked past a store that had a big sign outside that said DARKY and inside was a plethora of things from Africa, and I was all, “THAT IS SO NOT OKAY,” and then I learned that “darky” meant “gifts” and I felt stupid for gettin’ my racism hackles up. But it still threw me for the rest of the trip.

This was amusing: I walked past a building and it was gorgeous like every other building and – is that a sculpture of Darth Vader at the bottom?!

Alas, it was not. But I had to cross the street to check for myself.

One of my favorite architectural details was on an Art Nouveau building. Tell me if I’m wrong: It is a chicken on a woman’s head, yes? I’m not misinterpreting this, right?

This is an important window. I will summarize why. In 1617, there was drama between the monarchy, the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants involving land and whatnot. On May 23, 1618, a bunch of riled-up Protestants stormed the castle and threw two aristocrats and a secretary out this window. They fell thirty meters, but luckily a moat filled with dung broke their fall, and they lived. In fact, the secretary was later made a noble by the emperor and given the name “von Hohenfall” (Highfall). The turfing of these people out this window started the Thirty Years War. My favorite quote from the Wikipedia page on the Defenestration of Prague, as it is called:

Roman Catholic Imperial officials claimed that the three men survived due to the mercy of angels assisting the righteousness of the Catholic cause. Protestant pamphleteers asserted that their survival had more to do with the horse excrement in which they landed than the benevolent acts of the angels.

I will now delve into one two major high points on my trip: St. Vitus’ Cathedral. I love me some good old French Gothic buildings. Notre Dame is a big favorite of mine. So I was delighted when I learned that the Frenchies has built one in Prague. The Cathedral was started in 1344 and because of wars, funds running out and a fire, it was not completed until the 1890s. Given that it took forever and a day to build this thing, I was really impressed by the cohesiveness of the design. It’s quite the example of Gothic architecture.

The building itself is very lovely, but the clincher for me was the Mucha window. Since the Cathedral wasn’t finished until the turn of the century, there is a wide variety of styles to the windows. The Mucha window is definitely the best. Alphonse Mucha is a famous graphic artist who is often credited with starting the Art Nouveau movement, so for me to see one of his works like this was a big, big deal.

See how it’s dark blues and purples around the edge, and then it’s golden yellow towards the center, with that woman and the young boy (St. Ludmilla and St. Wencenclas)? The man was a genius.

There are other beautiful windows in there as well, don’t get me wrong. I liked this one with the rainbow ribbons as well.

And this one was also very beautiful.

But you see how the Mucha one is like, really breathtaking and super-special, right? It’s more than just color placement and design, it’s also really evocative.

It’s not all airy lightness and delicate stone tracery, oh no. On one side of the cathedral is the most overdone, garish tomb/casket thing I have ever seen aside from Versailles. This thing was… eye-catching.

Not subtle. You can’t even really see the giant silver angels holding up the red velvet curtains. It be TACKAY. You know my “If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it” quote from Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, this is broke. They should fix it.

One of the coolest things in both Budapest and Prague was the signs that stick out from the buildings. Each one was unique and special and I took a gazillion pictures of all of them.

The last one is, yes, a giant bullet. Huntin’ and fishin’ is a big thing in the Czech Republic. The best one I saw was this one:

Because it moved. I will put up an animated gif of that later today.

To finish up, I want to show one of the coolest houses I have ever seen in my life. Ever. You know those people who fall in love with inanimate objects, like bridges or the Eiffel Tower? I might have that going on with this building.

Tomorrow, Kutna Hora and the place I dreamt of going to for thirteen years.

Addendum: Animated Gif!

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