Prague, part 2

Starting out from the National Theatre, a bit south of the Charles Bridge, one can cross the Vltava via the Most Legii, built in 1901, which received its name in memory of the legions that formed under the Austro-Hungarian empire during WWI. Many thousands fled these legions to support the other side during the war with the intention to fight for an independent Czechoslovakia. Keep forward on the other side and you reach the bottom of the stairs leading up to Újezd. To the left, one can see the Hunger Wall, and right ahead is the Monument to the Victims of Communism on the stairs.

Climbing further towards Petrinské skalky, you get a wonderful view of the city’s eastern side, which I showed you in my previous post

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The view is even more beautiful in springtime

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It is worth climbing further on the quiet hillside as we can soon arrive at places from where another view of the castle can be revealed, one that few tourists come to see

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We can have a wonderful view not only of the outside walls of the Schwartzenberg palace

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but also of the Lobkovitz palace and the St. Vitus Cathedral behind it

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On the way there, it is worth looking back again on the old town

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Then, passing the Strahovsky monastery by, P1120452

we are in the sprawling castle district with winding streets and dozens of famous palaces

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among them, the Cerníncky Palace, which houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now or the Toscan Palace here

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The Schwartzenberg Palace, which we have seen from the outer side, is one of the most interesting among them

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And then we are almost at the Cathedral …

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almost …

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and having passed two gates …

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Overlooking the square with the old royal palace

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the southern side is also of utmost beauty

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All the surrounding buildings and others further down the street are amazing.

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I leave you here with a view overlooking the old town again, I’ll be back soon with more about this beautiful city.

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by P.S.

 

Castles in the Netherlands – part 16: Kasteel Duurstede and Huis Doorn

Last weekend I managed to make my next trip and went to see these two places near Utrecht, beginning with Duurstede. The nearest train station is at Culemborg, which is on a side-track for slow trains from Utrecht to Tiel, or another one from Arnhem, but that was fine as I like cycling to my final destinations. On the way, you have to cross a small river, the Lek, or take the long cycling route directly from Utrecht. Of course it’s simpler by car.

Wijk bij Duurstede, as the place is called, is a small town with two little churches very close to each other that we see coming from the road near the river, the Nederrijn (not directly from Utrecht) …P1130001and a very nice, working windmill, which can be visited insideP1130028 and some of the very nicest boat houses I’ve ever seenP1130029The town looks otherwise very pretty too P1130005but the main attraction is surely the castle, which is, oddly enough, rarely accessible to the public. It is usually rented out for events and, in between, it is closed. It is one rare ruin, as most castles are in good conditions and are occupied, or almost disappeared. But this one has one tower intact, another partially intact and walls almost completely ruined but with enough to give one an idea.P1130010P1130012P1130013However, I was lucky enough to arrive on a day when there was no big event but a nice little concert in the garden, and so the towers were open. It’s completely free to look inside and you can have a feeling of how small feast are catered for. P1130015 From above, the view is really nice over the restaurant and the moatP1130020the other tower, where I didn’t enter for the small exhibitionP1130021 and over the townP1130022Here is a song from the concert under the tent, with people enjoying the atmosphere, some snacks and drinks.

P1130027After such a pleasant place I rode further to Huis Doorn, which was the last dwelling place of the German Kaiser in the Netherlands after WWI. The entrance is next to the road, can’t be mistakenP1130031and the park around the house is really huge, complete with an Orangery and various romantic routes. The house, however, is a real let-down, not only because of its puritanic structure, which soon reveals that, other than the front side, it is nothing special at all.P1130037P1130040The real disappointment is that, for the orbital price of €12, one could only see a few rooms furnished as in the few years of the Kaiser’s stay, relics of the emperor and practically nothing else. I decided not to enter but have a drink in the restaurant. Still, a nice day.P1130044If somebody cycles this far, the nearest railway station is at Driebergen/Zeist, which means that the route can be pedalled through backwards starting there.

by P.S.