My life and my thoughts - on faith, culture, politics, whatever comes to my mind

Friday, January 27, 2006

Beautiful Prague

I spent last week Monday through Friday in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republik. We went in a whole group - 20 collegues from the legal traineeship I am currently doing as part of the German legal education. I haven’t been anywhere with such a big group of same-aged people in a long time! It felt a lot like school trips – just a lot better.
We flew into Prague on Monday, moved into our hotel rooms and then had a guided tour through the city. Most of us had never been before, even though it is just a one hour flight and supposed to be one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. We walked along the river (Moldau in German), over the famous Charlesbridge and through the “old” part of town. Almost everything in the inner city is old, but the center is called the “old town”. We watched the astronomical clock with its twelve apostles moving every full hour, some churches and passed by the Jewish quarter. Then we had the first dumplings of the week J. The Czech cuisine is strong on meat, kraut and dumplings (bread dumplings, potatoe dumplings, bacon dumplings...). Over the five days we had, I saw a lot of Prague. We had a short legal program spread out through our stay (Parliament, German embassy, law firm), but mainly we could just do what we wanted. So small groups visited different places. I saw the castle with the cathedral. It is beautiful. I loved the inside. I think it is true, that these extremely high church ceilings from the Middle Ages draw your thoughts upwards. They always make me think about the majesty of our God. We also visited a church with frescoes dating back to the 12th century. And of course, Franz Kafka – the famous Czech writer – is everywhere in Prague. Another highlight was a visit to the Jewish quarter right in the middle of the old town. It consists of a handful of synagogues and the old Jewish cemetary which was in use until the 18th century. There are about 12.000 gravestones, but the guess is that approximately 100.000 people are buried there. The Jewish population was forced to bury their dead in layers, cause they did not have permission to expand the cemetary. The ground constantly moves though, so “newer” gravestones sink down and older ones caome up. That is why the cemetary looks so particular. One synagogue is now a memorial for the almost 78.000 Czech Jewish victims of the holocaust. The walls of this synagogue are covered with the names and dates of these victims – all over. This was the most moving experience in Prague.
And of course we had a lot of fun. We toured a brewery (dark strong beer), met in cafes and for dinner with all 21, hung out in a hotel room with everybody and went out to dance. I really enjoyed this time and I think it was very good for us as a group who was not really aquainted before. If you ever have the chance, Prague is well worth a visit!