Visit to Troja Palace outside Prague
21.05.2009 - 21.05.2009
I was surprised at the number of tourists...the place was jammed with them. Swarms. Especially at the popular places like the castle, old town square and Charles bridge. Didn't hear much English. Hearing what I think is German, Czech, Italian.
While I was staying with Everett I suggested going to Troja palace. It's out of the "tourist ring" and just getting there could be an adventure as it involved walking, trams, buses...even though it's not that far from Prague. It was a hot day again and to make our journey easier we needed a specific number of tram so we could get to the area to catch the bus. We waited and waited and waited...the sun was blazing down on the group of folks who where also waiting for the 12 (only a few tram numbers stopped and it was easy to id folks waiting for the 12 if you paid attention.) Finally FINALLY a 12 showed up. Crowded, sweaty and hot we got on...not really sure exactly what the train station (which is where we catch the bus) would look like. It was nice to get away from the tourist crowds. Prague is really quite beautiful, everywhere you look is a photo op waiting to happen. Interestingly when the communists were in control of Prague many of the buildings suffered. Decay ruin and worse hit many of the buildings that you would otherwise think a country would preserve or maintain. Buildings looking nice wasn't a priority to the communists...I guess they were too busy making propaganda films about the plentiful food supplies when store shelves were bare and keeping luxury goods out of the hands of the people - you know...first luxury goods then who knows what could happen. I'm not sure when the restoration of the buildings that were suffering began but their current beauty attracts everyone. It's medieval road layouts are a maze of shops...the touristy and mundane on the more popular routes...but charm and solitude can be found if you just turn off the main thoroughfares. Small eateries and shops on the side streets offer a welcome respite to the main corridors. Troja too offers respite and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Prague. The directions the DK guide give are perfect. The bus drives right past it so you know exactly where to get off. Basically the Zoo stop...the Prague Zoo is adjacent.
We however weren't really sure where the Palace was...would we have to hike a bit to it? Was it really obvious? Well there was a Troja stop and we almost got off but Everett asked the driver if this was the palace and the driver indicated no....thank goodness that stop was actually what would have been quite a hike to the chateau. When we drove up we realized how very obvious it would be next time as I mentioned above. The chateau or palace is a striking Red and white - Italian style I'm told. Everett's neighbor, who speaks no English, when he found out we had been to Troja, brought over a very lovely book on all the castles and palaces etc. in the Czech republic. As I browsed through - there are a startling amount - I saw a red and white building on just about every other page. Which I found interesting...they liked the Red and white. But I digress.
First thing you see is this striking 3 story structure that is painted this assertive color and surrounding it are wonderful french style gardens.
French in design. They were looking slightly ragged. Not up to Versailles standards but beautiful none the less. The mazes grass was a wee long. Some of the planting beds were full of weeds - a bit long in the tooth...but the garden had charm. We had the added luxury of the cotton from the cottonwoods. It was as thick as plankton in the air. You could scarily open your mouth without getting some in your mouth or nose. It was interesting. The Troja palace is on the Vltava so I assume it was from there.
Once in the palace you are looking up a lot. Every room had frescoes on the ceiling and some on the walls. It was quite beautiful. They provided some laminated sheets explaining the symbolism of all the various figures and symbols. There were really no furnishings to speak of. - you go to look at the grounds, paintings on the ceilings and walls and exterior.
We had the place to ourselves which was a pleasant relief from the crowds in Prague. Walking through there were likely only 3 or 4 other folks...the tenders of the chateau far outnumbered the visitors.
One of my fav things to do in Prague is to hang out at the monastery at the very top of the hill where you have a fantastic view of the city. I was lucky enough to do it twice this trip. Once with Everett and another time with some traveling companions from my tour group that I hooked up with. You sit there and sip ice tea, beer wine whatever and absorb the view. When I was there with Mary and Betty we ate. Great quantities of good food and surprisingly the prices were very reasonable given the prime view. Huge plates of food (typical). I have noticed (I can't remember if I have mentioned this before) that the wait staff have stopped asking you when they take your plate and you haven't been able to finish "you not like?" Now it seems they don't care.
The other view site I was extremely pleased with was the top of the Astronomical clock tower. I didn't realize until Diane Toomey told me, you could go to the top. They have a very neato elevator that is unattended and you just pile in. (you have to pay to get to it). The view from that vantage point is great...there are some snaps in the gallery of me cheezing it up (shine and all).