Karlín – the First Prague Suburb

Karlín as a Prague suburb was founded in 1817 and it was named in honor of Karolina Augusta, wife of emperor František I. Big Baroque object Invalidovna, which was inspired by the Les Invalides building in Paris, was built there in the fields behind the walls in 17th century by famous architect Killian Ignac Dientzenhoffer for veterans.

Big Invalidovna building – when walking around, take into account it is just 1 / 9 of the intended bulding (1 pane in 3 x 3 pattern)

Snake and fox building

Originally it was supposed to be a home for 4000 veterans with families, independent and self-sufficient, but due to lack of money the building remained unfinished. In 1870 the Prague ramparts were demolished and the grounds were soon alive with constructions of industrial plants and apartment buildings.

In 1922 Karlín became to be a part of bigger Prague, in fact it is very close to the city center, but even today it is seen as the quarter behind the viaduct, working-class district. In 1907 the first electric tram railway in Prague worked here.

One of former factory buildings

House decoration

Karlín was badly damaged by the big flood in August 2002, and it needed more that year to recover. But now the place is reconstructed, former factories were rebuilt to nice lofts or exhibition spaces, Karlín has posh restaurants and clubs as well as quiet places for reading a book or surfing on internet. Buidlings are nicely decorated in art nouveau, neo-renaisance or neo-gothic styles.

River side of the quarter is built up by modern administrative buildings for banking insurance, advisory, or IT companies.

Church of St. Cyril and Metoděj

Church main altar

Karlín’s main square (also called Central Park :-)) is a place where you can walk, sit, play ping pong. The dominant of the square is beautiful church of St. Cyril and Metoděj, who brought Christianity and Slavic mass to Grand Moravia – therefore to Bohemia – in 863, and it was canonized at the millenium celebrations in 1863. It is one of the biggest church buildings in Czech Republic and it ranks to most important architectonic landmarks from 19th century. It was built in late roman basilic style and Czech famous artists participated on the interiors. The church organs were built they were the biggest in Czech lands. Church suffered during the flood, but now it is restored ot its original beauty.

Mardi Grass at Karlín’s Central Park

So called “killing feast” – the killing apllies to the pig.

 

Different celebrations and feasts took place at the square around church, where you can taste typical Czech dishes and drinks, listen to Prague folk songs. Once a week the farmers markets took place there with chees, sausages, bio vegetable and all the stuff you look for at famers market :-).

Tunnel going from Karlín up to Žižkov, other working-class district starts not far from the hotel and leads up through the Vítkov hill, from where nice view to Prague Castle and Old Town is, see my post Unexpected views to Prague (1) from October 2011 at https://praguebykaty.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/unexpected-views-to-prague-1/.

My favorite place called Muj salek kavy (My cup of coffee) …

… and my cup of coffeee there

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Colors of Baltic States

Baltic states – Estonia, Lavia and Lithuania – are three small countries in North East Europe and are on my Top List of Favorite Places, where I was and enjoyed it there a lot. Even though the history of these countries is very similar, they are not the same and every one of them has its stunning beauty.

Tallinn garden festival in the park behind the walls of the old city, Estonia

From Estonia I will choose colors, flowers, Lahemaa national park, medievel hansa city Tallinn and summer town Parnu. In Latvia I like to swim (more precisely walking in the water, as it is rather shallow) in Jurmala, the kitchen is the best here, valley of Gauja river is beautiful and adventure as well, walks in Riga’s park are nice. In Lithuania you can’t miss baroque capital Vilnius with independent Uzupis distric, lakes are so beautiful in Aukstaitia, Palanga beach and park are must see, dunas and sea at Neringa (Curonian split) can’t be miss.

Colorful house and small garden in Juodkrante, Neringa, Lithuania

July’s looong sunny days offer us the best opportunity to enjoy the places around. What I love in Baltics are the colors on the streets and all the details. Flowers markets there are the nicest I have ever seen and traditional handcraft works are so beautiful.

Flower market at Central Market in Riga, Latvia

When you are in Latvia, tasting auksta zupe (cold soup) is so refreshing, that you can easily became addicted to it, so when you come to Lithuania you are immediately going for saltibarscaj, which is not the same but pretty close, served with potatoes.

Saltibarscai, beetroot cold soup with cream, how served in Rumsiskes, Open-air museum in Lithuania

There you will learn that black and grey are also colors and not mistakes on the color chart.

Black swan on the pond in city park in Cesis, Latvia, there is a pair of them and they had a small baby this summer

Flax jumpers and wool socks, grey is just perfect there

But when you don’t like it, you can choose from all the colors of the world

Socks stall in Central Market in Riga, Latvia

Hats in all shapes and colors at town hall square market in Tallin, Estonia; even more can be found in Lithuanian markets

Flax jumpers both in Tallinn and Vilnius (cheaper there !)

Very close to the old town of Tallinn there is a big ship harbour for ferries to all around the Baltic sea, very crowdy but nice place.

Naval flags in Tallinn harbour, Estonia

Our hostel in harbour was colorful as well

Visiting summer cities like Parnu (Estonia) or Palanga (Lithuania) or Ventspils (Latvia) is perfect chance to spent some time by the sea at the beach, that is pretty close to forest. The cities are colorful, but you can always find a quiet place for coffee, just sit there and enjoy the air.

At the small park cafe in Parnu, Estonia

Wooden weather vanes are in nice colors and shapes, mainly in Nida, but also in Juodkrante, beautiful village at Curonian Split

Braided trees in Tartu, Estonia, but also in Vilnius, Riga and other cities

The best time for visiting is July, but I believe autumn colors must be perfect specially in national parks as Lahemaa in the north Estonia or in Aukstaitia in Lithuania as well as in Gauja park in Latvia.

The winter would be also nice, but the days are very short there, to feel warm and cozy you can choose from many jersey’s designs in Tallinn. Also trees are protected against the cold carefully :-).

But in fact it doesn’t matter which time of the year you will choose for your visit, as long you are dressed well and you travel with opened eyes and opened heart, in Baltic states you won’t be disappointed.

Jersey at the wool market bellow the old ramparts in Tallinn, Estonia

Olomouc Art Nouveau

Olomouc center at one sight

Olomouc is a city in north Moravia with about 100 000 inhabitants. Throughout centuries Olomouc fought with Brno (in South Moravia) to be the center of Moravian region in medieval ages. Despite the fact that Olomouc was mostly losing and nowadays Brno is the administrative center of Morava, there were moments of high importance for Czech kingdom history that took place in Olomouc. Like:

Assassination of Bohemian king Vaclav III in Olomouc in 1306 resulted in dying out in male tail for Premyslid dynasty, first ruling dynasty in Bohemia that were on the throne for 400 years. In 1479 there was agreed that Bohemia will have two kings – Vladislav Jagellonsky in the West and Matyas Corvin in the East, 1573 the second biggest university (after Charles university in Prague) was founded in Olomouc.

New building of Olomouc unversity

Bezruč’s gardens bellow the Old Town walls.

Today you can meet lots of students here as well as enjoy quiet narrow streets and park bellow the walls of the Old Town, specially during chilly foggy autumn days :-). For summer days there are beautiful stone fountains around the city, to refresh the air.

One of Olomouc’s landmarks is written in UNESCO World Heritage List from the year 2000. It is the Holy Trinity Column, baroque monument built in 18th century as a celebration of Catholic faith and also by feeling gratitude of surviving the plague epidemic. It is the biggest Baroque sculptural group in Czech Republic.

Holy Trinity Column with Townhall at the back, Astronomical clock on the townhall can be also seen

But what I really like in Olomouc today, are the art nouveau buildings with lot of colorful details around the main square.

Gold mosaic windows

Bubble boy

Glass-metal protections from weather moods

My favorite – girl photographer, see the detail on the right

The most beutiful art nouveau sight in the city is Villa Primavesi, where Gustav Klimt came for visit and today you can find cozy restaurant with great dishes there.

Villa Primavesi Art Nouveau details

Silver Kutná Hora

If we call Prague Golden Prague, because of the color of its Spires and because of its importance, then definitely we have to call Kutna Hora “Silver”, not only because of long period in history of Bohemia when it was the second most important city in the kingdom, if not in Middle Europe, but because of its silver mines.

View to St. Barbora cathedral with jesuits college on the right

The foundation of the town is connected with the nearby Sedlec monastery, first Cistercian one in Bohemia. In the middle of 13th century German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region which belonged to the monastery. And that region was named Kutna Hora (hora = mountain), where “kutna” comes from either the name of monks habit (kutna = cowls) or mining (kutat = to mine, kutna = place where you mine).

Detail of Sedlec Cathedral, beautiful work of Jan Aichel Santini, architect of gothic baroc

Kutna Hora has long and interesting history, and nowadays it is a small province town close to Prague, very quiet (not during touristic season) and because of its beautiful churches and buildings it is written on UNESCO World heritage list.

Kutna Hora street

When visiting the city you definitelly can’t miss ghotic cathedral of St. Barbora, patron of miners, the second most beautiful church after St. Vitus in Prague; and Hradek, the place where is the mining museum is, you can go inside the mines dressed as a miner there. But just walking through the narrow streets of the city is amusing. Don’t forget to stop by in some small cafe or taste Czech pancakes.

A bit further from the city center is Sedlec, just across the street from Sedlec Cathedral, there is a very special Ossuary Chapel, where bones are used as a Coat Of Arms, chandelier, decorations. Bones from about 40 000 people were used to build the interior of the chapel, the architecture of the church itself is work of Jan Aichel Santini (by the way my favorite architect).

Ossuary Sedlec

Schwarzenberg family COA

St Barbora Cathedral

The buidlings or other objects in the city are also very nice, like well preserved gothic building, as far as most of the buildings from gothic period are churches, this one is rather unique. I like one of the technical gothic objects – stone fountain.

Deatil of the Stoune Fountain

Wish you pleasant time when you are walking through the narrow streets, enjoying the height of the cathedral or drinking cafe while looking at baroque column.

Baroque plague column

Italian Court, where workers from Florence, Italy minted the famous Prague Grosch, the stable currency in medievel period

Renaissance sgraffito building in Kutna Hora

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