Shout out to Chris Longano! This city has a history to rival New York: you’d get lost in it.
From the walls of the castle Vyšehrad (pronounced Vishayhrud) the first Czech Kings surveyed Prague. Last week I walked them as night fell (through the shadows of kings) and saw some of the most spectacular views of Prague yet.
I was planning to look at an apartment at the foot of these dramatic walls (just left of the far end of the photo above) but the guy never showed up. Hell, why waste the trip? The walls were just up the street and I could see the far corner (above) towering above the nearby buildings.
The walls themselves, at least sixty feet tall and easily forty feet thick, reinforce a naturally defensive position overlooking the Vlatava River. Behind them once lay a working castle and palace complex but is now only occupied by the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul (one of many spectacular churches in this town) and a variety of other random buildings, preserved as a sort of historical park.
While the history represented by the church and the castle complex may be interesting, the real drama lies sprawling out in the city beyond. From one vantage you can overlook the neighborhood of Vyšehrad – sleeping in a small valley. This entire section of the city, replete with beautiful six-story, 19th century buildings, is crossed by Nuselský Most (the spotted line below). The four lane highway towers above the neighborhood and is the main access by car between the north (left) and south (right) of Prague. It’s become infamously known as “the suicide bridge” by drawing over three-hundred suicides since being finished in 1973 (I had to Wikipedia it after someone called it “the suicide bridge”).
From another section there was a clear view of Petrin Hill – noted by the mini-Eiffel tower glowing white in the picture below – and Prague Castle (top right below). The walls stood up twenty feet above the nearby buildings which are impressive in their own right. I can’t imagine how impressive it was when originally built and surrounded by eight-foot tall hovels I imagine characterizing a medieval village.
Sadly, it was closed for the evening (or the cold season) but there was a pub on top of the walls overlooking Nuselský Most*. Should this pub reopen anytime soon, I know where I’ll be bringing friends for a drink meant to impress.
Sidebar: when I was leaving the park I noticed a tourist map posted by one of the entrances. It described all the landmarks and gave the park rules. Using pictograms they illustreated what wasn’t allowed and with typical Czech bluntness, included everything: no skateboarding, no camping, no biking, and no – abosultely no – intravenous drug use.
I imagine that there were quite a few disappointed junkies in Vyšehrad.
(*English teacher note: notice the lack of the article “the” when refering the bridge. This is because the Czech language doesn’t use articles, a problem which pervades even the most advanced students.)