The first book in my mystery series is set in Sweden, in Queen Christina’s court. Her army brought back a significant number of treasures from Rudolph II’s castle in Prague, and while researching for the book, I became intrigued with the capital city of the Czech Republic. For this reason, when I saw a trip over New Years that would take me there, I quickly enrolled. Looking back, it was a wise choice.
Unlike other large European cities, Prague escaped most of the devastating bombings that ruined other old buildings. Only minor damage was done to one of the newer buildings, according to our guide, and the residents are justly proud of the architecture, examples of which can be seen throughout the city, from Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Classicism, to Neo-styles.
|Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square|
The impressive Old Town Square is still the center for all major events, as it was during the Middle Ages.Twisty narrow streets lead to stone houses and monasteries. It was in this square where I saw one of three extant astronomical clocks, and the only one still working. We walked through the
|Ceiling fresco Strahov Library|
Christmas Markets in the Old Town and Wenceslas Squares offered Czech food, including sausages and potato pancakes, and always the roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.
|Strahov Monastery entrance|
Part of Rudolph II’s huge collection can be seen in the newer part of the building. He collected valuable paintings, stones, bird feathers, and everything imaginable, including wildlife specimen and exotic cats. The Silver Bible iin his collection, taken by Christina's army, inspired the first mystery in my series.
In the Grand Hotel Bohemia I attended a Mozart/Dinner where between each course, we were treated to various Mozart pieces, including arias from his popular operas. The dinner was served by candlelight in a neo-baroque, historically protected ballroom, not normally opened to the ublic. Another evening we splurged and bought box seat tickets at the State Opera House to enjoy Verdi’s Il Trovatore. That evening was worth the whole trip to this opera lover.
For further reading about Prague and it’s interesting history, I recommend The Magic Circle of Rudolph II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague, by Peter Marshall, or Prague in Black and Gold; Scenes from Life in a European City, by Peter Demetz.