Friday, April 27, 2012

The Bone Church

The Bone Church may have been one of my (ashleigh) very favorite things about our entire trip! I was so looking forward to this day and visiting this church and it did not disappoint me. I'm sure I'll mess up the details of this but here are some of the more interesting facts about this place

1. It is an actual working church/cemetery even to this day called Church of all Saints
2. It's not made UP of bones but merely DECORATED with 40,000 human bones (in the basement)
3. It's in a town called Kutna Hora 
4. The basement is called an Ossuary which I'm pretty sure means "bone holder"
5. A lot of the bodies came from the Hussite War and the Black Plague
6. THe legend goes that dirt was taken both from Golgotha and the field that Judas bought/hung himself in and brought to this space. So, if you're buried here, your body decays in 3 days. 
7. The bones were originally decorated by a monk that got creative and after World War 2 - I think that's the one with Hitler- and all of the bombings, someone was commissioned to reassemble the bones in the 70's.

The view as you walk into the basement. 

I was SO excited to be here!

THATS A LOT OF BONES!!  There were 4 big stacks like this in the 4 corners of the room. 

These skulls have injuries from the Hussite War. 

We decided these cherub guys were far more creepy than the bones!

This chandelier has every bone in the human body in it!

This crest was amazing! They had a picture of the actual crest beside it and the artist did a great job depicting all the parts. The detail is amazing!

Look at that bird pecking the guys eyes out!  Yet another reason to not like birds :)

Listening to the audio guide

These are skulls/bones with malformations. Eyes too big or small, abnormally large heads, etc. 

or they could be bowling balls :)

It was so cold in here we could see our breath!  and the ladies behind us were southern women from America. A refreshing change to hear :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Street Markets

The street markets were so interesting in Prague. I think it's because they're kind of an rare and usually only on weekends around here, to have them set up every day of the week was fun. I'm pretty sure they were only up every day because it was the end of their Easter celebrations, but either way, we enjoyed looking at all the stuff. Some of it was very touristy, and other parts super practical and local (like the fruits and vegetables). 

The candy booth was definitely a favorite of ours!  We ate our $20 worth of candy all week long :)

This clock should have it's own post complete with story but for now, these clocks are fashioned after a really cool, one-of-a-kind super old clock in downtown. 

picking out eggs

 It was so cool that entire streets were just closed off so that markets could be set up like this.

Overall, the markets were a great part of our experience with the fantastic city of Praha!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prague Castle Compound

 Disclaimer:  we spent 2 different days at the castle so if we are wearing different clothes that is why :)

A few years ago there was a special on the Today Show where they were touring the Prague Castle Compound and they said it was the largest one in the world. After walking it twice, our legs and feet believe them!  In my brain, I thought of a castle as just one big building. The phrase "castle compound" should have clued me in to the fact that it would be more than one building but I was still really surprised by how many different buildings made up the "castle"  

This is walking up to the front entrance of the castle. The spires that stand up behind the building are part of the cathedral on the castle grounds where the Kings went to church. It's still a working church today and if I lived in Prague I would go there to church - even tho their beliefs are different than mine - just so I could say I went to church at a castle :) 

 Anyway, these guys guarded the front gate of the castle and we decided that they would keep us from breaking into the castle if we had lived a long time ago...

I wish I had a real red carpet going up the stairs in my house!
 and a gift shop (of course) where you could try on helmets. Because what could be more fun that that? 

The boys were really into the architecture so as to get the coolest pictures possible. 

 and here is the cathedral...It has a name, but I don't remember it...

what it took to get the next picture. Yup, people just looked at us because we were the crazy tourists. 
 Inside the cathedral, the sun coming thru the stain glass was beautiful on the pillars in the church.

The window the sun was coming thru.
 This was a map of the whole place. 
 It was cool to see all the different stories written in and around the castle. Like on the doors of the church, these carvings told the story of the guy the castle was named after (some saint) It reminded me of in Deuteronomy how the Lord tells us to talk about Him when we are walking down the road, and eating, and getting up and how that is how the story is passed down to future generations.  
well. kind of :)

This is all more of the inside of the cathedral. It was all so beautiful and yet we kept commenting on how backwards it all seems to us to throw that much money and time into a building where they only meet with God on a weekly basis and how God must be heart-broken that they've missed Him altogether in all the stuff. And then I thought of our modern-day churches certainly missing solid gold altars and marble walls but with lots of ridiculously expensive technology and how maybe we've missed it too....Starving people who we could be Jesus with skin on to, and yet we need the latest and coolest lights and effect machines possible....and somehow I'm sure that breaks the heart of God too.

This bell made us laugh because our Pastor has an old bell that he wouldn't let us get rid of when we were cleaning out some stuff at the church because it was old. Maybe hundreds of years from now, people will tour our building and take pictures of our old bells. :)  But I really hope not..

This was the chapel of King Wenceslas. I think that's his crypt in there and it was by far, the most ornate room in the cathedral. That man was working in there doing something with candles. 
 We really were blown away by the detail in the architecture. It was just beautiful! and to think that it was done all by hand because it is way too old to be done by machines. 

We liked this little door :)  It had steps that went up inside the tower. 

Shannon and Chris said this tree is like something in Lord of the Rings. Not having ever seen LOTR, I didn't get it. 
 This is where the castle guards would have defended the wall from. So cool to think that real people stood there with real weapons to defend kings many, many years ago!

 This was a wall in another part of the castle and it was crazy to think of how old it was. At least several 100 years old. And still partially there!!  we just kept being blown away to think that the things we were reading about and looking at were older than America altogether. And some of it older than America even being discovered!!  It made me feel like I really should have paid more attention in World History in school because I have HUGE gaps in my timelines!

 These were King Wenceslas' (I think) crown, scepter and meeting room. 

One of my favorite parts of the castle was the dungeon - no surprise there!    There were lots of torture devices that Chris and I got a good laugh over. 

 and lastly, the soldiers. We missed the changing of the guards both times we were there but still got to see them march around and stand guard at different places on the grounds. We even toured the "powder tower" that had no gun powder in it but told the history of the Royal Guards uniforms so that was cool too.