Monday, September 17, 2007

Liberec - A quieter voice. Marian Column.

Liberec has a modest plague column, those petitions in stone to Mary for relief from recurrence of the Black Death, or thanks for at least sparing some of the population.

This one was unusual because it is in the graveyard, unobtrusive, silent, not set in the showy loud middle of a square where it forces you to look. The column are is short. Overall, the impression is more like a solid, reliable pedestal than an overwhelming column with Mary up there somewhere.

There are many reminders in Europe that the plague hit everywhere and often. Here is a site with photos of Austrian Marian Columns, and references to others in Germany. The Austrian columns are tall and rounded, without the multiple figures and shapes on the Czech columns. See // That source is a Marianist institution.

In the Czech Republic, the fashion for specific Plague columns appears to be from about 1715. They often show buboe-shaped tumescences and scenes of sufferers or saints. Plague was intermittent and devastating for centuries before that, however. See its course in 1348, and people's group and individual response patterns, at //

See the huge lump-type columns in more central towns, like Kutna Hora, see later post here. We did not get to Olomouc CZ, the town with an enormous one, but do an images search for it. O-l-o-m-o-u-c. How could Mary ignore its shouting.

I like this simple one, nestled in Liberec. Please, help me. A small supplication amid the dead. Do see Liberec.
* Why Mary and what is behind the column structure? Hers is not our particular tradition, but anyone can wonder - why turn to that particular person in times of devastation.

Finding out is roundabout. The UDayton site, //, collects these explanations for Mary on top of columns:, examples include showing her rectitude, firm faith; she is shown leaning against a column in early art and that shows she did not have labor pains ("dolor"?); the column anticipates the suffering of the future; points to the end of pagan religion; mostly date from 15th-17th centuries, but there are reported such columns 1oth and 15th centuries; the round shape lets pilgrims move around it; stand for the Counter-Reformation; were votive, pilgrimage and rallying points. There is a list of exhibits of Marian art held at UDayton - none explore the Marian columns. //

The theme continues. Here is a modern memorial, a technically non-Marian column, but highly evocative, as here in Levoca, Slovakia. See Slovakia Road Ways.

From a distance: The woman and child at the top look like a modern (medieval or renaissance dress) representation of madonna and child, but instead represent the women killed, shunned or tortured during the Inquisition and related periods, or merely caged for "immorality," as the explanation is now given at Levoca. Even the cage is on display. "The Burning Time" or "The Burning Times" are books on the topic of witch-type or paganistic persecutions, do a search for the titles. See also // and its overview, literature and research.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Liberec - Waldstein Houses, Crystal in the Castle, Square

Liberec is in the northwest corner of the Czech Republic, Northern Bohemia, near the German border. It is a town that grew at the crossroads of several trade routes.

Here is its castle, lovely reds and yellow ochres,. The castle is becoming a showplace for lovely local glass, crystal and jewelry. Northern Bohemia is known for that. See //

Near the square is a small row of half-timber craftsmen and weavers' houses, called the Waldstein Houses, dating from 1678-1681. Here they are - but compare these cramped camera angles to the elegant photos that the tourist bureau is able to take, probably with dangling cranes to suspend the photographer by the feet for the purpose. At street level, there is no glamorous vista reachable, especially with the large size of the facades. See the small windows, because glass and oiled paper cost.

Read about half-timber construction at // The spaces between the timbers were filled with rubble, broken dishes, or daub and wattle, very ecologically sound, then plastered. Using oak for timbers means long-lasting strength. It became a fancy art form in Britain and elsewhere. See

This view shows how short the row of houses is, and that only the front parts of the buildings really survived. The rest of the structures are incorporated in a modern apartment building. At least they preserved this much. Excellent.

Liberec is in a mountainous area, with castles on hilltops. And traffic jams at rush hour, like anywhere. See //; and terrain shown at . Now that we are back, I wonder if the castle we thought was in Slovakia is really here, outside Liberec. We did stop and just take pictures as we went. Look at Slovakia Road Ways at the Zilina post.

There is a fine town square, with an excellent town hall - remember that towns only got their marketing privileges from the reigning monarch, and had to keep up appearances. Rudolph II (see Iron Man post in Prague about him) gave Liberec its market "license" status. Choose a cafe with umbrellas, feet up a little, aahh. There is a Liberec webcam posted here, but I gave up on the load time. You try at

Why Liberec? Sometimes, pick a town in a new area that is in the range of something else and just relax and go see. We were leaving Thieriesensdadt, or Terezin, the ghetto-concentration camp - where Petr Ginz and others were sent, and most then died, there or at a subsequent extermination or labor camp. This town is nearby, and we thought we had some time before Plzen and Prague. So, see a regular town, then circle down to the Big Prague.

Kutna Hora - UNESCO, Plague Column

1. The Plague Column - see the base, with its prayers and invocations; as well as the tall structure. There is usually Mary at the top, with a crown of stars. Do an images search for marian plague column, and you can see the type, and its components in European town squares, especially in eastern or central Europe.

Kutna Hora has a fine plague column. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This is what it was like to have Plague. See No wonder people rejoiced in 1715 that only half the population died from it, and the survivors were spared.

Some tours are organized totally around UNESCO sites - see // We see the ones nearby wherever we are, and do see most of them. Here is a photo site of Czech Republic Highlights, with a fine Marian or Plague column view here at Kutna Hora.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Kutna Hora - UNESCO - Cathedral of Saint Barbara

With tree branches, hard to get a clear shot, but you at least can see the flying buttresses here - unusual and difficult with largely brick construction, so there are so many. The roof resembles a peaky crown. Thirteenth-Fourteenth Centuries, some variation between sites on exact dates. History at

Designed by John Parler, son of Peter Parler who built the great St. Vitus in Prague.

Here is a site about Saint Barbara herself, about 300 AD, at // She was tortured and beheaded by her own father when he returned to find his bath house design redone by Barbara, who had converted to Christianity in his absence, and put in windows to resemble the trinity. She later became associated with safety from gunpowder, a patroness of artillerymen.

Then again, this site points out how little is known, how many centuries passed before any mention, and etc. See Her life is to remind people of anger?? See

Kutna Hora - mining,double gate?

We may prove ourselves wrong here, but we think this nice double gate, one for each line of traffic, and ease in collecting taxes/tolls, is Kutna Hora.

Still checking.

Meanwhile, here is a fine history of Kutna Hora and its mining - silver. See//

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kutna Hora: On the Way. Charnel House, walled church grounds

Destination: We were headed elsewhere, to a glamorous and elaborate ossuary or charnel house* at Sedlec, at a monastery in another direction outside Kutna Hora. Someone there in the 19th century constructed chandeliers and sconces and other Martha Stewart decorations, made of what you happen to have on hand, here hands themselves, bones and skulls. Out of mass graves from Plague or other war times. The Thirty Years' War also slaughtered many religiously motivated combatants, early 17th century.

The stop instead. We never got to Sedlec. See what we found instead, on the side of the road on the way to Kutna Hora: a traditional old walled church-defense complex, no signs, and its authentic charnel house. No designer additions.

Floor to ceiling, respectfully and neatly stacked bones and skulls, in an octagonal charnel house,* open windows except for the bars. There was a caretaker, watching us as he worked in the churchyard, but not following.

The old walled church complexes:

These consist of a thick, high wall, a built-in tower that appears for defense and lookout, in a traditional architectural shape of a square tower and peaked roof like a witch's hat, atop another and much larger square structure below.

That tower on tower shape would be good for defense because ladders could not be put all the way up. But bad because the wood would ignite.

Then there is a free-standing church building inside, and another free-standing building, the charnel house.

There is the octagonal charnel house here, skulls and bones, just behind the church.

There is a similarly small charnel house, that does invite visitors inside, in very small groups, very respectful, at Kudowa Zdroj, Poland. See post at Poland Road Ways. Mass graves were a necessity. Do a search for mass graves plague, and find them at Venice, Athens, all over Europe.

The church's graveyard with individual headstones is here just inside the walls.

Yale would love this. Maybe they would be motivated to return Geronimo. See// See//

Advantage of the sudden find: Slow walk around, breathe in, breathe out, stretch, sit, think back, then with so much else to see, we skipped Sedlec.

See other posts on Kutna Hora, and overview of the town at //

* You can take a virtual tour of Sedlec yourself. At Sedec, we had read that the bones of plague and/or thirty-years' war victims were arranged in the 19th century in patterns and chandeliers. Many tour books feature this extravaganza. See the photos of all this at //

Charnel houses are a practical approach to small graveyard areas: after a time, dig up and place all together in one building. Usually these are careful arrangements, from the tidy stack to the more bizarre decorative type, see the one we saw in Poland at _____________ and here is another one in Austria (that we did not see) at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Driving in the Czech Republic

Just because a square is empty of cars does not mean you are welcome to park yours there.

Always good to check the rules before you launch. Start at //

Some rules. Note this - instead of paying tolls on non-motorways, buy a highway coupon (at a gas station) and stick it to the windshield. Lights on at all times. In a traffic jam, cars must create a lane for emergency vehicles. An unbroken yellow line to the right means no parking. "Stopping" is permitted, however. An accident with property damage about 2500 or more must be reported to police. No radar detectors. If an accident, there are procedures to follow, read up.

At this site, copy and paste enough in another browser to get to the home page, then navigate to the rest until you get there. //

Alcohol. As in many parts of Europe, blood alcohol tolerance is zero. Find where you are going to stay, park and stay there. Period. Pick a place where you can walk to your supper, and to libations if you indulge.

Road signs, speed limits. That site also lists common road signs, in Czech with translation, gives speed limits (you can't go as fast as legend here in US says about Europe), parking rules and other vitals. And reproduces the symbols and what they mean. They are not always obvious, so carry them with you. Your guide book may not have all of them. For example, a big red empty circle means absolute prohibition to any vehicle going there. Some show a car with a line through. That means no four-wheeled vehicles.

NOTE ALSO. Go slow if you travel in spring and fall, when there might be freezes. Some countries restrict sand and salt use to only the most major roads.

Rentals. Rent your car from an Eastern European country if your travel is mostly there. There may be restrictions from Vienna, for example, in driving to or insurance covering certain places for concern of car theft. Know these in advance, and fly in with information in advance. We make rental arrangements from US, and check it all out there first.

The Diary of Petr Ginz - Places of Petr Ginz. The Occupation.

Petr Ginz was a boy in Prague during the German occupation. He kept a diary, now published in English in 2007 as "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-42." Locations that Petr Ginz names, or where he went, are laid out now in photographs and comments at a Europe Road Ways companion blog, Places of Petr Ginz.

The places include references to Prague, where the family lived; Plzen, nearby, where there is a great synagogue; Hradec Kralove, his Christian mother's home town -here is a picture of some Renaissance sgraffito * on the side of a building in Hradec Kralove; and the Sudetenland, on the German border, where others were from.

Petr was sent at 14, the age when Mischling children were to be separated from their families, to the ghetto created at the old garrison town of Theresienstadt (Terezin); and ultimately to Auschwitz, at the town of Osweicim (Auschwitz), Poland, where he was killed.

The war references are poignant, yet matter-of-fact. See Places of Petr Ginz, Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich at St. Cyril's Church. Also see the 1975-76 film, "Operation Daybreak," for views of Prague itself, and a tragic, courageous war story of the Czech Resistance and the assassination.
The diary was discovered in 1993 in the Jewish museum in Jerusalem, along with some of his drawings and science fiction and other writings. It is edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger, who adds an introduction and parts of her own diary; and translated by Elena Lappin, Atlantic Monthly Press NY 2007. Meet Ms. Pressburger at

Petr is a child of a mixed Jewish-Aryan marriage, called a Mischling by the Nuremberg laws of the German occupation in WWII. See

A "Mischling" could be designated in various degrees from pure Aryan. See The concept was "mongrel," as seen when you do an Images search for Mischling. All dogs on the first page, except for a copy of a Nazi certificate for Mischling I.

The panorama of his short life ended at his age 16 in Auschwitz, a concentration camp that also had held Anne Frank for a time, I understand, before she was sent to her death at another camp, Bergen Belsen, not far away.
* Sgraffito - a building decoration technique, layers of colored material, then scrape off top layers in drawing or other patterns. Scroll down this photo website and see the sgraffito - //

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cheb, The Sudetenland - The town's belly-tilt of half-timbers; Roland

 Cheb, in the Sudetenland

The Sudetenland is near the German border, and the area has been in the middle of conflict for centuries - its location is the best entry to Bohemia from the northwest. also the blog on Places of Petr Ginz for more photographs and information posts on Cheb.

Cheb, Czech Republic: Half-timbered houses, tilting

The town is known in German as Eger. Here are the German Merchant Houses that date from medieval times - the foundation and ground floor to first floor are reinforced to bear the weight of the floors below, but there are additional tilts visible also. See the square at

The area's identity goes back to 870AD, and the name to 906AD. The territory was annexed by Hitler in the 1938. See Then was made part of the Czech area again, and feelings run fierce, see

Market square houses, half-timber, Cheb CZ


Roland here may be the same Roland as the son of Charlemagne (see timeline).  In fountains in city squares in Europe, he is often representing free market privileges, when those were granted to the town.  But why the wild man?  We understand that a figure signifies that the town had official market privileges. And we saw another in Bratislava, Slovakia; and understand there is also one at Bremen, Germany. But there is another Roland statue here in Cheb -- with Roland the Knight, very dignified, with his unbreakable sword, at the well-fountain.  What is the connection of the Savage Man, also connected at the sites with Roland, and the Knight. 

The SavageMan Fountain, Roland, Cheb, Czech Republic 

Since Roland is also the nephew of Charlemagne, or some sites merely say he fought for Charlemagne, we looked up dates and how the market Roland fits with the fighter.  As Charlemagne's nephew (or officer) he fought and died -- killed by rebellious Basques at Roncesvalles near the Pyrenees when he went to fight against the Moors, when they were taking over Spain. Charlemagne was emperor of Germany in 800 AD, and Germany was little more than wilderness at the time. Perhaps this savage man is closer to the reality than the later knight. If he were Roland, however, he would have his unbreakable sword, not this club. Is that so?

This site lays out a timeline:  many of these statues went up in the 1300's or 1400's as a symbol of freedom and market rights, see the Bremen source at ://,tll:1404,tlh:1404&prmd=b&ei=s4cnTLX6BYX6lwfl8e3kDw&ved=0CD0QzQEwAw

Roland became a "pop icon" - a symbol of cities becoming independent of the nobility, see the general site at ://

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Cheb, The Sudetenland - The Castle. Renaissance stove.

First, the creature comforts of a Renaissance stove, the ceramic wood-burning stove at Cheb Castle. Stoves like this are in homes, castles, anywhere that a relatively efficient heating system was needed. For many, there were ducts and outlets to chimneys for heating the entire place; and many such stoves.

For a look at the role of this kind of stove in theology, lite, see Martin Luther's Stove in Wittenberg.

There he mentored many fellow philosopher-theologians. Behind it, as in many such situations, there resided a third party mischief-maker.

Now that we are warmed up, what happened here.

This Romanesque fortress castle was originally built by the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa - Red Beard. See more of Barbarossa at,_Holy_Roman_Emperor. For the castle itself, see Scroll down to Cheb. It dates from the 12th century, at a place of earlier Slavic settlements 10th-11th centuries. See See also the Cheb-Sudetenland posts at The Places of Petr Ginz, from a boy's diary while living in Prague 1941-1942.

The old "Sachsen" area of Germany-area borders on the Bohemia of the old maps, and ethnic groups have lived on both sides - see the map of the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th Century at Watch European boundaries shift at

The area came to unwanted prominence when Adolph Hitler visited and then took it over by annexation. The location is strategic for moving from the northwest into Bohemia. See Adolph Hitler annexed the Sudetenland in 1938, see,

There is a fine chapel, and a large undercrypt-type space beneath. In some areas, the vast undercrypts of churches, with the huge supporting pillars, were used as bomb shelters.

Undercrypts were used for burials, places for valued items, special chapels. Some have a hole in the ceiling that brings in light, covered in a transparent material, if you look up, goes straight to a mosaic or other symbol or religious figure on the ceiling (way up there) of the main sanctuary.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Austerlitz , Slavkov- near Brno. The Three Generals

Austerlitz was pivotal in its day, 1805. See Napoleon's victory against Russia and Austria. See

To tackle this, stay in Brno (we didn't) and go to the Austerlitz area on its own. We drove right past Brno, expecting to find a focused battle area at Austerlitz, with plenty of accommodations and all well marked. Not so.

There will be a small sign on the motorway showing a Napoleon symbol - that turns out to be near the tree where he watched the battle at dawn. No more. And then you are on your own to find where in the huge battle area, almost without bounds, there might be the monument we saw in the guidebook.

To find it, we finally asked a pedestrian who then offered to show us because his house was on the way, so in he came. Lordy watching over little sparrows and us, it was fine and we all had fun. And got there. And then came back to get a place to stay. Also no problem.

The monument was lovely at sunset, out in the country still, wide expanses of open space where battle and skirmish and blood and shouts took over at one time. Did all this effort and killing mean anything in the long run. It delayed the downfall of Napoleon to 1812, some seven years later. See (that is a student exam-crib source - take a look).

Plzen - Pilsen - The Great Synagogue, World War II, Marian Column

Plzen is more than the home of pilsner.

Its square features a fine Marian or Plague Column, erected in the 1700's in gratitude for deliverance, or to ward of future infection. See

The American General George Patton liberated it with his tanks in World War II, and here is the memorial with the rare sentiment these days, "Thank you, America." Patton is buried at the Hamm Military Cemetery at Luxembourg. See Luxembourg Road Ways. Read about it, and the later soviet rewrite, at

Jews have lived in the area of the Czech Republic for a thousand years, at about 2 1/2% of the population, until WWII. See
Some 80,000 were killed in WWII's "final solution." See

The Great Synagogue in Plzen is third largest in the world, after Jerusalem and Budapest. Read about synagogues and see a full-length Plzen photo at There is no congregation left there now.

See Places of Petr Ginz for more photographs and information posts on Pilsen - Plzen. He was a boy in Prague who kept a diary in 1941-1942, and the places he writes about are researched and photos offered also there.

Hradec Kralove - The Places of Petr Ginz - His mother's town

Hradec Kralove was the home town of the mother of Petr Ginz. Please shift to the blog on Places of Petr Ginz for more photographs and information posts on Hradec Kralove. Petr's mother (who was not Jewish) was from Hradec Kralove, and she visited there from Prague. Other relatives came to Prague to see the family, bringing special foods from the country.

Do read "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-42," the entries by this 12-14-year old child of a mixed Jewish-Aryan marriage during the occupation, and his art and other writing, now published in English after its discovery in 1993 and publication in Europe. It is edited by his sister, Chava Pressburger, and translated by Elena Lappin, Atlantic Monthly Press NY 2007. Unlike Anne Frank, who was in hiding with limited things to do, Petr was out and in school, doing errands, watching family members taken away, and in direct experiential contact with everyday Nazi horrors.

The panorama of his short life (he died in Auschwitz, as did Anne Frank) includes Prague, where he lived with his family during the occupation; and incudes references to Plzen, Hradec Kralove, the Sudetenland, then Terezin or Theresienstadt ghetto, where he was taken; and ultimately to Auschwitz - Osweicim, Poland, where he was killed.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hradec Kralove - Clock tower, Plague Column (Marian Column)

Travel perils. Out the hotel window was the clock tower, there in the center. Bad idea. Bong. And, the long hand points to the hour and the short hand points to the minute, so use your watch instead.

At one time, the silence of these towers was not welcome, but foreboding. Young teenager Petr Ginz, in his newly-translated "Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-1942," see, wrote in Prague at page 94, "You can't hear any bells ringing at all, because the Germans have confiscated them all; they will probably make cannons out of them." Only one bell remained.

Include those reversed hands, for fun, in what to see in Hradec Kralove. Petr Ginz had relatives frm Hradec, who came to visit the family in Prague. Looking for the page.

Plague Columns.

See overview and photos at There are many in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, many with Mary at the top, in thanks for deliverance from the epidemic about 1715 or so. Saints, haloes of stars, moving prayers about pestilence (From sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us, or similar words that echo in our own day).

Hradec at night.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Prague - Wenceslas Square

Please shift to the blog on Places of Petr Ginz for more information posts on Prague.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Prague -the Jewish Quarter - Art collection, scenes

Visit this site for paintings of the Jewish Quarter - artist Adolf Kohn, at He was born in 1868, and the views of an earlier time are a welcome contrast to the crowds of today. And the sadness of knowing what came after.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Prague at War - World War II - Operation Anthropoid; The Diary of Petr Ginz

This Church, the Karel Boromejsky Church, Orthodox, also known as Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, * was instrumental in Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of the Nazi Reinhard Heydrich by Czech partisans on an allied mission. The partisans, betrayed by other Czechs, were hidden by the priests here, then were trapped and killed.

See an overview at

The members of the team that conspired and carried out the mission successfully are at the left in the photo exhibit there.

They are heroes to many Czechs. See Some disagree because of the horrific extent of the later reprisals, see the mass murders at Lidice at, for example.

The partisans were paratroopers and held out in the crypt at the church, in New Town. There are bullet holes still in the outside walls, and the crypt area. Find it with a simple Images search for Bormejsky Church. There are photos of Heydrich also there.

See a detailed account, with graphic photographs of events prior, during and the reprisals afterwards, at There it is - at the entry labeled "
06-11-2005, 02:42 PM

Here are some of the news photos and accounts at the Church.

And below is the map of Prague, showing the safe houses - many of these had been betrayed by a Czech turncoat, leading to information of the location of those carrying out the assassination.

The pins represent the safe houses during the war.

That lower level is now a shrine, with the story told in maps and exhibits, and entry provided into the crypt itself.

Petr Ginz. Read his account. He was there in Prague at the time. See Places of Petr Ginz.

In "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1941-42," Atlantic Monthly Press 2004, translation into English 2007, read his daily logs and other writings. He was about 13 at the time.

Petr Ginz describes the news of the assassination at entries as follow:

Page 108 27.V.1942 (Wednesday) through page 114 20.VI.1942.

Imagine your own child living in those times.

He writes, here in summary, that there was a bomb assassination attempt, a state of emergency declared, orders to stop or be shot, reward for information and shooting of the person and family if there is holding back, 8 people shot for harboring unregistered people, naming a person sought, 45 people shot for publicly approving the assassination, more rewards from SS and the Protectorate government, 18 more people shot for hiding unregistereds, 250 Jews shot, 250 deported to concentration camps, school closed after (he thinks) someone was shot looking out the window, older girls taken and their hair washed because the Germans were looking for a blonde who assisted the assassins, attacks in Berlin and 250 Jews shot and 250 more to concentration camps, flags at half mast for the (believed) death of Heydrich, confirmation of the death, Jews can't go out to many places, train carrying the body gone to Berlin and buried, big massacre near Kladno where apparently a transmitter was found, and so on. Then the deadline for the assassin to give up or be handed over. One might be caught already.

And then, "I heard they caught the assassins in Boromejsky church. The chaplain hid them there. When Eva (Petr's sister) walked past it she heard shooting ad she saw shattered windows. Again they executed 153 people." Petr Ginz at page 114.
Page 109 29.V.1942 (Friday); 30.V.1942 (Saturday); 1.V. 1942(Sunday); 1.VI 1942 (Monday)
Of interest to Hartford, Connecticut, where Colt guns were made. One of the weapons used in the assassination was a Colt. That is stated in one of the glass-enclosed exhibit boxes. See also See also See the exhibit at the State Library,, and its military history at


* That Boromejsky Church where the partisans were killed had been dedicated to the Saints Cyril and Methodius. Cyril and Methodius were brothers who came from Thessaloniki, Greece, in about 863, and originally converted the Czechs and other now Eastern European national groups to Christianity.

Later, when the Roman Catholic branch of Christendom split from the Orthodox, the Roman branch overcame (read, killed) the Orthodox who had not been converted through them, see post on the Teutonic Knights in Poland Road Ways in Poland, and James Michener's book, "Poland."

These early figures from the Orthodox branch are greatly revered. See them on the Charles Bridge, Prague, at See more about the Orthodox Christians and their roots and history at, and at

Prague - Legends. The Iron Man, Marianske Square. Rudolph II and Attributes

Iron Man, Iron Knight, Rudolph II, Prague CZ

Prague, of course, is haunted. Any place with history surely is. See And, shivers at And

Ask about the pose of a statue, however, and see what the explanations are for an otherwise sinister-looking context. This fine statue fellow is in an unusual pose with a front leg extended straight forward and down, toe pointing, also known as the Iron Knight, looks the stuff of horror. 

He may represent, however, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II or Rudolph II who ruled 1583-1612, and who went to the Jewish Quarter to see his love, according to this site. She is there at his feet in despair, see the left leg dangling. See  Read about his reign at ://  Find a Virtual Jewish History Tour at ://

The statue:  Look closely, lower left - that is her head as you peer, she is partially sitting, head all disheveled and hanging low, and her legs limply dangle while he strides above, almost (not really) like fourth position, The site says, however, that she is hiding her face for shame at the "sin" of falling in love with a Christian.

Story does not hold together - she looks quite dead. Murdered even. Sin? Bother him? Not a whit. Plus ca change.

Read about Rudolph II Habsburg, 1583-1612, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia and Hungary, a great patron of the arts, at, a paper by Jacob Wisse, Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.

  • Other sides to rulers:  Guidebooks and quick history look-ups are inadequate for anything but a fast orientation.  Look deeper.

There are other sides to people than the instantly seen, known. Rudolph II is also listed among the rulers of the world who are known homosexuals or bisexuals.  How do they know?  Each one would have to be vetted as to source, and weighed, see Homosexual and Bisexual Rulers and When They Lived, a list that includes rulers of Rome, England, France, Spain, Byzantine rulers, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, at  ://  China:  see ://  To us, the only issue is why orientation should be an issue for anyone, as consenting persons, unless it is strictly religious and then they of course can do as they like as to themselves, but not as to others not sharing that belief. The site's information stems from an agenda for acceptance of a group, showing it widespread among the rich and famous, but that does not in itself negate the validity. Vet the long list for any individual that surprises you because you did not know.

Update: 2011. Hartford Courant, article on Hero: The Life and Times of Lawrence of Arabia, book by Michael Korda.  Not a whisper of his orientation by the reviewer, Tim Rutton. Silly. Tells an incomplete story. Fib by omission, and perpetuating a stereotype of unnecessary hush. Deeper issues of cultural shaping, see Catching the Phoenix at ://

The site at :// an alternate explanation to the statue's context, involving some "O Udence" in Platnerska Street, and a sign now in the "town museum." I am now looking up O Udence. Only get "jurisprUDENCE". Translate "o" -- get "the".  What about Udence?  Now for Platnerska. Found this map-photo of the street:

  • Timelines for emperors, rulers, events.  
For the world's best timeline site, go to the Metropolitan Museum site at Click on whatever timeline area interests you and suddenly clarity is yours.

Prague - Charles Bridge - Vltava River

1.  History

Vladislaw II.  Use of this site to cross the Vltava River extends back to wooden structures until 1158 CE, when a stone bridge was constructed nearby and replaced the more precarious wooden structure. This was during the reign of Vladislaw II, Duke and then King of Bohemia.

This stone bridge was one of the earliest European stone bridges since the fall of the Roman Empire. It was named in 1172 to honor Vladislaw's then wife, Judith of Thuringia, and named the Judith Bridge. This one was destroyed during floods in 1342.

Charles II.  In 1357, Charles II commissioned this bridge, dubbed the Stone Bridge, and only renamed to honor a later Charles, Charles IV, in 1870. That old bridge stood alone as passageway across the Vltava until 1742. See

 Prague, the Charles Bridge. Statues, musicians.

The Charles Bridge now boasts some 30 Baroque-style statues of saints. The first was erected in 1683.  For photos, try

 Some saints are familiar already, like Saint WenceslasThe bridge is a place of some tribute, but mostly small-commerce, hawkers, fakes, with many earnest and dedicated musicians amid them, and some nonsense for all the rest of us. For example, enjoy this a one-man band, with the view back to New Town, complete with umbrella against the drizzle. Street performers take up temporary or permanent residence.

Orientation:  At the far end is the 11th Century Powder Gate, the dark-stone tower; and Wenceslas Square, located at the dome.

The Charles Bridge became a pedestrianized bridge recently, in 1950.

2.  Size; protection.

Charles Bridge, Prague.  Arches.

The Charles Bridge:  It is long.  It boasts 16 arches, and four carriages could cross abreast, or passing one another. The riverbank at the section of Prague known as New Town is here to the left, the opposite area to the right is the Little Quarter. The hillside leads up to the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral area.

The bridge requires icebreakers, here affixed to the base of the support piers to the bridge. 

Charles Bridge, Prague.  Icebreaker structures at the piers.

The massive bulwarks break up the ice before the chunks can smash the bridge.

Icebreakers, Charles Bridge, Prague


He appears twice: here at one end of the bridge in company with St. Norbert and St. Sigismund, not shown; and here on his own at the other end of the bridge. Begin and end with Wence. From whence.


Other saints become familiar because of statues in other towns,.

For example, Saint John of Nepomuk who was an advisor to a queen and thrown off a bridge for refusing to break her confidence on demand of the king. He is at many, if not most, bridges. He joins the other saints on the bridge. See him here:; and for the encyclopedic summary (check facts yourself) at

xxxThe Vltava River, has flooded often - see the water levels on the ladder-marker on the bank. See See photos from disastrous 2002 at
See gallery of flood photographs at;

Take a little boat trip, or a long one, now that all is quiet again. Go down the stairs to under the bridge at the New Town side, choose your size boat, get a free beer or soda, and bag of pretzels, and wait for the boat to fill. Not long. And the wait is sweetened. There is even music.


Prague - Old Town Square

Wenceslas on horseback here, at the Storch House, Old Town Square. See it and other fine photos for an overview at

Prague's Old Town Square, with the splendid backdrop of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. See; and

Nearby is the old astronomical clock on the town hall, also at Old Town Square. See See Death tolling the bell, and the apostles rotating around at noon, if you can dodge the tourist tete in front of you.

The historic center of Prague is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See As background reading for walking around Prague, get "Time's Magpie - A Walk in Prague" by Myla Goldberg, Crown Publishers NY 2004. See all the bitty spots and big spots, not just in the Old Town Square, through a local lens.

The great statue of Jan Hus was shrouded in scaffolds and tarps, but you can see it here: He was on the reform road long before Martin Luther, so to some groups he is a heretic, to others, a hero. Here is an Anglican view: /; and here a Roman Catholic:

Restaurants surround the square. Get a tidbit here, schmooze and ogle, and move on to the next.