So much happened during my first full day in Prague that I must keep writing about it. Finishing off from the end of my last post (Green Roofs & Healthy Living), I spent a majority of the afternoon figuring out how to do a load of laundry. According to the internet, do-it-yourself laundromats are common in the US (obviously) and Western Europe, but not Eastern Europe. The hotel here offers a per-article service, which I’ve personally never encountered before. The “laundry service” down the street additionally offers a per-load service for about 240 Czech koruna (Czech crowns, CZK, or $11 USD). I don’t know about you but I’ve never spent half of that to do a load of laundry. When I’ve traveled in the past, I found that scrubbing clothes in a sink was a good option but after further internet research I came across the idea of throwing your clothes in a bathtub with hot, soapy water. It worked well! The only issue was finding enough places in the room to hang it all up.
I was finally on my way after hours of getting settled and cleaning up. There was no clearly marked way to get to the Prague Castle and the closer I got to what ended up being the right way, the more I thought that it couldn’t be the right way. I was walking away from tourists, down backstreets, and into residential looking areas. At last, I saw the “castle” at the top of these steps.
I’ve learned the term castle is used more broadly in Europe than I thought. They are not always medieval, stone structures with a moat, towers, and big stone walls. Academic author Charles Coulson recently wrote a modern, accepted definition is simply a “private, fortified residence.” This castle would be described more as a palace by me or you, based on both its architectural and structural style: less visible stone, abundance of modern glass-paned windows, and ornate column and façade design. Not explicitly apparent is the “low,” stone wall surrounding the palatial estate. It is similar to a retaining wall, where on one side of the wall, the ground is near the bottom of the wall and on the other side of the wall, the ground is near the top of the wall. This stone wall would be the redeeming “castle” characteristic in my opinion.
The gardens inside the castle walls yet outside the main buildings were beautiful—the grass perfectly maintained by the pet lawnmower and loyally protected by a military guard gripping a hefty machine-gun.
The inside of the castle consisted of expansive courtyards, government buildings, and one large cathedral, darkened by the elements over the years. The “selfie” stick was a handy way to capture the scale for one of the massive courtyards in the castle.
Departing the castle walls, I came across a building that immediately lit my flame for architectural style. The color-patterned façade in running bond formation stood out among all of the adjacent buildings and even out of all the buildings I’ve seen in Prague. I think this style has a feeling of antiquity to it that feels unique even in these historically relevant cities.
In the evening, I joined up with the new friend I met at the exercise park. We found ourselves joining a small group of professionals on a night tour of another nearby castle. The guide told us historical stories of the buildings (and about Prague in general) and brought us to a great look-out point in the city. To say the least, it was an unexpected end to the night.
Fun fact: Czech marionettes are a traditional craft of the Czech Republic. I came across a store dedicated to Czech artists who hand-carve wooden marionettes.