Welcome Centre Organised a Tour of Gardens in Prague

On 16th of April 2023 Welcome Centre organised a tour in Prague with the local tour guide Jiřina Posledníková. We started in the Royal Garden at the Singing Fountain at 3 pm. Our guide Ms. Posledníková started the tour with a joke that her name means “the last one” which is why she is always the last one to show up. Sadly, the joke didn’t land, because our group was joined right next instant by one of the researchers who beat her to being the last one.


The tour started with the very beautiful fact that the Royal Garden simultaneously with the Summer Palace was commissioned by Emperor Ferdinand I in the 16th century for his wife Anna Jagellonica as a symbol of his love, sort of like the Taj Mahal. Just like the Taj Mahal, the queen the palace was being built for didn’t live to see its completion. Jiřina also asked the participants to find a special relief on the palace among the reliefs added during the 19th century that depicted Ferdinand I offering a flower to Anna.


The next stop on our tour of the Royal Garden was the famous Ball House with a very interesting history. The first architect, Bonifác Wolmut, was originally unable to finish the building, having been charged for wasting the court’s resources for building something futile and unnecessary. He was, however, cleared of all charges and later reinvited to finish his work. Having being destroyed in a Nazi bombing in 1945, the monument was restored during the communist era. The communists, of course, could not stop themselves from including their own motif of the sickle and hammer within the sgraffiti of the virtues.


We took a short stop at the Presidential Villa, aka the Villa of President Edvard Beneš, the second president of independent Czechoslovakia. Jiřina pointed out, though, that Beneš did not get to live there long as his term was soon interrupted by the Nazi invasion.


The tour continued to the Castle where we headed first to see the beautiful Italian Garden in the 4th courtyard. A very charming fact that our guide, Jiřina made us all test was the fact that if you stand at the centre of the small staircase facing the garden and are tall enough, whatever you say will audibly echo back just to you as if you’re having a conversation with yourself. When each of the participants from our group was testing this fact one after the other, we realised that it was time for the change of guards. We hurried to the internal courtyard to watch the change of guards. But to our surprise, the Castle clock was running a few minutes earlier and the change had therefore started earlier than we expected. So, we only got to see the change from inside.


After the change of guards, we went to have a look at the St. Vitus Cathedral, a humongous gothic church that passed from being a basilica to a cathedral during its long history of construction. HavThe window sponsored by a bakery featuring someone holding a pretzelThe window sponsored by a bakery featuring someone holding a pretzeling been commissioned in 1344, it was completed only in 1920s and elements from all these different periods can be seen in this church, including symbolic imagery from modern institutions which sponsored the various windows of the cathedral. We took a short resting break before we continued the tour. During the rest, Jiřina continued to inform us about King Charles IV and how he liked to take part in jousting tournaments disguised as a knight, as no one wanted to fight the King himself, and how one of these tournaments caused him a life-threatening injury that left him disfigured with a hunchback, which we later saw depicted on the other door of the Cathedral.


Then we went to see the South Garden for a bit before we made our way out of the Castle grounds. In the South Garden was worth mentioHidden space with benches near the South Gate of the CathedralHidden space with benches near the South Gate of the Cathedralning the so-called Small Belvedere, a viewpoint, which had on its floor a mosaic of various different kinds of koláčeks. There are no two koláčeks that have the same pattern on them.


Finally, we made our way to the Vrtba garden our last stop of the tour. Vrtba Garden is a beautiful renaissance style garden with several parts that can each be enjoyed individually without interference from the other parts of the garden. The lowermost part has a bird cage with many beautiful birds that’ll immediately catch your attention as you enter the garden. The second level has a fountain the middle and is built in such a way that once you step in you won’t hear the birds from the first level even if the fountain isn’t running. The third level has many statues that according to our guide were added later and depict stories from classical mythologies. Jiřina recommended us to revisit the garden later in spring so that we could see the door at this level to the higher viewpoint covered in bright red foliage which makes it seem like a Gate to Hell.

The tour finished in the Vrtba garden and left the participants overwhelmed by the beauty of the gardens wanting to visit them again in the future.


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