Things of interest
Golem (Late 16th century)
According to the legend, Prague Rabbi Loew created a golem out of clay from the banks of the Vltava river. He brought it to life through rituals and Hebrew incantations in order to protect the Prague Jewry from anti-semitic attacks and pogroms during the rule of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. Although the golem couldn´t speak, he obediently fulfilled the tasks assigned to him with zeal and devotion. Under certain circumstances the golem was turned into a dangerous monster, raging through the city and wreaking destruction upon the gentiles.
After receiving assurance of no further violence toward Jewry from Rudolph II, the Rabbi Loew “deactivated” him and placed him in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue to be restored to life again if needed. The rabbi declared it is strictly forbidden to enter the attic of the synagogue ever again. Recent legend says a Nazi agent died after entering the attic under suspicious circumstances. The attic is not open to the general public.
Photo source: wikipedia
In Prague there are numerous cemeteries where the graves of famous historical figures can be found.
is the final resting place for the Czech most honored composers, artists, writers, scientists and politicians. The masterpiece of the Cemetery is the Pantheon or “Slavin”, a great tomb constructed in 1890.
Among the great personalities of the Czech nation who have been laid to rest here are composers A. Dvořák, B. Smetana, and Z. Fibich; artists M. Švabinský, M. Aleš, and A. Mucha; writers/poets J. Neruda, Karel Čapek, K. Mácha, B.Němcová, and J. Vrchlický; and actor Z. Štěpánek. From the top of Vyšehrad there is a stunning view of Prague.
Old Jewish Cemetery
The oldest tombstone, which marks the grave of the poet and scholar Avigdor Karo, dates from the year 1439. Burials took place in the cemetery until 1787. The most prominent person buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery is the great religious scholar and teacher Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as Rabbi Loew (d. 1609), who is associated with the legend of the Golem (see paragraph above.) There are about 12000 tombstones and it is the most visited cemetery in Prague.
New Jewish Cemetery (Strašnice)
is Franz Kafka´s last resting place as well as Ota Pavel and Jiri Orten.
Olšany Cemetery (next to New Jewish Cemetery)
was created in 1680 to accommodate burial of victims of the plague. It is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe with evidence of some 230,00 people buried here in some 65,000 graves. Here you can find graves of famous people of the 19th and 20th century like J. Cermak, J. Lada, K. Kramar and K. Erben.
Lesser Town Cemetery
The graveyard for the inhabitants of Mala Strana. Here you will find a grave of the family Dušek who so hospitably received Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Prague.
Several personalities from recent Czech cultural history are buried here; Václav Havel, the builder of Lucerna palace and grandfather of ex-president Václav Havel and Jan Karafiát, author of the Czech children´s book Broučci (Fireflies)
Here you can find a grave of philosopher J. Patočka and song-writer/singer K. Kryl.
Prague House Symbols
Long before people of Prague characterized their houses with numbers, they differentiated their houses from others by house symbols. The house symbols mostly had some meaning and connection with the history of the house or the trade practiced (bells, rings, keys, cans etc). The house symbols also included animals such as lions, lambs, donkeys, bears, fish, and snakes. They were created in a variety of colors and were depicted in stucco, chiseled in stone, painted on the facade or forged in iron. They bestowed on the buildings melodious names. Some of the interesting names include: “At the Blue Snake”, “At the White Swan”, “At the Three Fiddles”, “At the Two Suns”, “At the Golden Key”, “At the Red Ram”, “At the Golden Wheel”, “At the Golden Cup, and “At the Red Lion”.. Many of these minor works of art can be seen along the Royal Path, in Celetná and Nerudova Street.
In 1770 a consecutive chronological numbering of buildings with conscription numbers (white numbers on a red background) was ordered; the present day orientation numbers (white numbers on a blue background) are common since 1878. With that change, the house symbols have become reminiscent of a colorful past.