Tuesday, 8 August 2017

More Musings from Malá Strana and a Murderous Memento!

In my last post, I shared the briefest of views of Malá Strana - the lesser quarter which lies in the shadows of Prague Castle. I did hint at a promise of more to read, especially around Nerudova. As it turned out, the very next day I found myself with a little bit of time so,  here we are again - a bit earlier than expected!

Nerudova is named for Jan Neruda, the author, who lived on this street over 170 years ago. You can't miss the house, near the top of the hill, with its distinctive nameplate.

Did I mention before that this is a pretty steep hill? This is the view looking down from Neruda's house looking towards the Old Town Square and Our Lady Before Tyn.

A few years ago, I was walking up the hill fairly early one morning and was aware of a commotion in front of me. I could see a number of shop keepers were out in the street shaking their brooms and wagging their fingers, while a small number of tourists were jostling for position to take photographs. It turned out that the cause of the excitement was a young lady wearing nothing more than a smile and a pair of flip flops with a video cameraman trying to film her and act as a bouncer a the same time. My Czech isn't good enough to know what the shop keepers were saying, but I doubt it was to warn her that flip flops are not suitable footwear for this particular road. I was too polite to take photos, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Nerudova is famous for its house names and the beautiful signs that identify them. Here's a small selection.


They represent (clockwise from top left): The White Swan, The Green Lobster, The Red Ram, Medusa at No. 14, The Golden Cup and The Three Fiddles. Often the signs were associated with the nature of the businesses carried out at the property. In Czech the names are usually preceded with the letter 'U' which translates to 'At the house of', so 'U zlate cise' translates to 'At the House of the Golden Cup'. This sign at No.16 used to be the home of a goldsmith and his family.

One other oddity worth looking at in Malá Strana are the bollards in Malostranské náměstí at the bottom of the hill. These curious looking things represent the 27 Czech nobles executed on June 21st 1621 in the Old Town Square. The victims were part of a Protestant revolt, and they were executed by the official Prague executioner, Mydlár - who used four swords and took from 5am until 9:30pm to complete his grisly task. 14 of the most influential nobles were beheaded, the rest were hanged but one, Dr Jesenius, had his tongue ripped out before his demise. The heads of the victims were then displayed on the East Tower of the Charles Bridge. The location of the bollards, which were erected in 1993 is significant. They are in front of the Liechenstein Palace - once owned by Karel of Liechenstein who ordered the executions.


Yet more ghosts and gruesome tales from this beautiful place with such an extraordinary and chequered past!

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