Thursday, June 30, 2011

House Insignia of the Day

Any idea what the trade or profession of the person who lived in this house was?

Yesterday's "House Insignia of the Day" Revealed

Congrats to those of you who knew where this is located:
House at The Golden Ring (Dům U Zlatého prstenu) is located on Týnská Street in Old Town (very close to Old Town Square), and no, it isn't the former residence of a jeweler...not as far as we know.  The gold ring was was probably created on the building in the early years of the 17th century.  One charming legend (are you surprised that there's a legend associated with it?  Come on, you should know by now that we Czechs love a good legend!) is that the ring was lost by one of the Old Town's many ghosts during its nocturnal strolls, and found by one of the residents of the quarter, who installed it above the gates of his house as protection against the forces of evil.  

In the late 20th century, the building was restored for the use of the Gallery of the City of Prague, which is what it is today.  The gallery hosts a permanent exhibition of Czech art of the 20th century with particular emphasis on the Czech passion for surrealism and just plain oddness.  

One of the current long-term exhibits is entitled AFTER VELVET / Contemporary Czech Art with Past Connotations.  It contains works by members of several generations of artists.  
I have to admit, I quite like this piece called "Red is coming" by Krištof Kintera.  A lot.  It's odd, but I really do like it.  I guess Czechs do truly have a passion for the odd.

Red is coming, 2007, Krištof Kintera

City Gallery Prague
Týnská 6, Old Town
Getting there:  Metro "A" to Staroměstská, Tram 17 or 18 to Staroměstská
Hours:  Open 10 am - 6 pm Tuesday through Sunday
Admission:  Adult 120 CZK, free with Prague Card

Happy Name Day, Šárka! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Šárka.  Happy Name Day, Šárka!
The name Šárka is variant of Sarah, which is of Hebrew origin and means "princess".

In Czech legend, Šárka was a maiden who joined other women in declaring war upon men.  She tricked the men by having herself tied to a tree, and, after they came to her rescue, offering them mead laced with a sleeping potion.  After the men fell asleep the other women would slay them.

Rally Bohemia

Rally Bohemia starts this Friday, July 1st, and goes through Sunday, July 3rd.  
Don't miss out on the action!  

Event Info
Rally Bohemia is a car racing competition well-known for its challenging special stages 
not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad. This rally has a long tradition, which will 
carry on in July with its 38th anniversary. Yet again it is credited by FIA European Rally 
Cup with coefficient 10, by Mediasport International Rally Championship of the Czech 
Republic. The Autoclub Bohemia Sport in AČR is the organizer and Škoda Auto Company 
is the main partner. Among those very prestigious partners belong the city of Mladá 
Boleslav, Middle Bohemia and Liberec region. The headquarters, start and finish are 
situated to the city of cars, Mladá Boleslav.  

Rally Bohemia will take play in two legs with almost same long, difficult and very technical 
special stages on the asphalt surface. The spectator's introductory super special stage in 
Mladá Boleslav will start on Friday 1st July. The first leg starts on Saturday in the morning 
and among others it will also  contain the special stage in Sosnová or legendary Vinec. 
Sunday's leg will be laced with the most difficult special stage in the Czech Republic, no 
less legendary Návarov. The most successful competing crew is expected in the 
finish,which is at the university building of Skoda Auto „Na Karmeli“ in Mladá Boleslav, as 
well as the centre of the rally, on Sunday at 5 pm. Central service zone can be found in the 
area of the 11th gate of the Škoda Auto factory. Total length of the whole competition is 
680 kms, from which 16 special stages represent 214 cutting-edge kilometres. Only the 
cars suitable to the FIA regulations appendix “J” will be accepted into the competition as 
well as the FIA regulations for regional championships. 
This years’ Rally Bohemia starts its way aiming towards holding the World Rally 
Championship competition. The 38th Rally Bohemia is the applicant event for WRC and it 
will be very closely observed  by the delegates of the Noth One Sport, which is the 
promoter of the WRC series.  

Programme of the Rally:
Friday 1st July
6.30am – 11.30am Administrative and technical scrutineering 
10.30am – 1.30pm Shakedown 
5.00pm Ceremonial start 
8.00pm Prologue Mladá Boleslav – Bondy centre 

Saturday 2nd July 
8.00am Start of the first leg 
6.00pm Super Special Stage Sosnová 
7.00pm Finish of the first leg 

Sunday 3rd July 
8.00am Start of the second leg 
3.35pm Special Stage Staromestska 
4.25pm Finish of the rally

For more information, please visit:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

House Insignia of the Day

Any idea where this is located or what it may symbolize?

A revolving wheel symbolizes the endless course of time...

Yesterday I asked if you knew where this is:

It's called The Golden Wheel and it dates from the end of the 18th century.  In ancient cultures, the wheel was a powerful symbol of the energy that animates the entire universe.  A revolving wheel symbolizes the endless course of time, the changeability of fate and the inevitable cycle of rise and fall; as a symbol of the turns of fate, it also holds a leading position in the Tarot pack.

Hotel U U Zlatého Kola

Today the building houses a really nice hotel called The Golden Wheel (Hotel U Zlatého Kola).  The first records of a building at this location go back all the way to the end of the 15th century.  In 1541, after a major fire destroyed almost three-quarters of the Lesser Quarter in three hours, the building underwent a major renovation.  At the end of the 17th century, the building was owned by a painter named Kristian Dittman, who performed another major renovation and also added another floor.  The current appearance of the hotel is due to sensitive renovation of the baroque building, conserving and revitalizing its authentic charm. Inside you'll find an original medieval wall and the chimney of a so-called "black kitchen" - from times when cooking was done on an open fire.

The Golden Wheel 
Nerudova 28, Mala Strana

For a link to the hotel, please visit

Happy Name Day, Petr & Pavel! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Petr and Pavel.  Happy Name Day, Petr and Pavel!
The name Petr is the Czech form of Peter, which is of Greek origin and means "rock".
The name Pavel is the Czech form of Paul, which is of Latin origin and means "small".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Legends of Magic Prague at Laterna Magika

Prague is a town woven with legends and myths, and now you can find out more about these stories in a new multimedia show at Laterna Magika!

Find out about the most famous inhabitants of the Faust House - Faust and the English alchemist Edward Kelley

Chanina, the daughter of a Jewish merchant who, lead by the love of the mysterious Lord of the River Vltava, stepped into the river to return in the form of a green cat that walks along rooftops

The secret meetings of Emperor Rudolf II with the philosopher and mystic of the Jewish culture in Prague - Rabbi Löw and his Golem

And last but certainly not least, the legend connected to the construction of the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

To learn more and to purchase tickets, please visit the Laterna Magika website at

House Insignia of the Day

Can anyone guess where in Prague this is located and what it may possible mean?

Happy Name Day, Lubomír! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Lubomír.  Happy Name Day Lubomír!
The name Lubomír is of Polish origin, and its meaning is "great love".

Monday, June 27, 2011

"A beautiful, warm June night..." at the House at The Two Suns

I believe that this is a well-known house insignia, or perhaps I just think that because it's one of my favorites.  Why?  Because it reminds me of hot, lazy days of summer!  But there's deeper meaning to this building...

House At the Two Suns (U Dvou slunců)
In this Baroque house below the rays of a doubled sun the renowned Czech journalist, poet, writer and critic Jan Neruda (1834-1891) spent his youth.  

This was where his father had a tobacconists' shop, later a grocers', which for the author formed the first setting for his studies of the characters , fates and life-stories of the people who came to make their purchases.  Later, these events, personalities and picturesque caricatures came to life in his newspaper articles, and won literary immortality in his Tales from the Lesser Quarter.  

House At the Two Suns...No. 47 Nerudova 

Though Neruda moved later in life to different locations in Prague, he never forgot "The Two Suns" in the street then known as Ostruhová, which for him remained forever a recollection of happiness, a safe haven, a place of refuge.  The house of Neruda's youth became the setting for his story Evening Gossip, where he writes: "A beautiful, warm June night.  The stars twinkled only faintly, and the moon shone with such joy that the very air had become a silver light.  Yet the moon's greatest joy, it would seem, was cast upon the roofs of the lane of Ostruhová, and I would say most fully upon the quiet roofs of two of its adjoining houses, 'The Two Suns' and 'The Deep Cellar'.  Strange roofs indeed; a capricious soul could easily leap from one to another, and they are little more than corners, angles, gutters, each continuations of the next.  Strangest of all is the variegated form of the roof of the Two Suns, of the form that they call 'hipped', with two paired gables towards the street and two towards the courtyard..."  At the end of the 19th century, the street originally known as Ostruhová was, in the writer's honor, renamed Nerudova.

Happy Name Day, Ladislav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Ladislav.  Happy Name Day, Ladislav!
The name Ladislav is of Slavic origin and means "glorious rule".

Happy Belated Name Day, Ivan & Adriana! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

This past weekend we honored Ivan and Adriana.  Happy Belated Name Day, Ivan & Adriana!

Saturday, June 25th

Happy Name Day, Ivan!  
The name Ivan is of Russian and Slavic origin, and is a variant of the name John, which is of Hebrew origin and means "God is gracious".

This was the name of six Russian rulers, including the 15th-century Ivan III the Great and 16th-century Ivan IV the Terrible, the first czar of Russia.

Sunday, June 26th
Happy Name Day, Adriana!
The name Adriana is a variant of Adrienne, which is of Latin origin and means "from Hadria".

Friday, June 24, 2011

House of______ - any guesses?

Anyone know where this is or what it symbolizes?

Happy Name Day, Ján! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Ján.  Happy Name Day, Ján!
The name Ján is the Slovak form of Johannes and a variant of John, which is of Hebrew origin and means "God is gracious".

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What legends are made of...

Recall seeing those pretty carvings on buildings? I'm sure you've seen them, perhaps even wondered, "what does it mean?"

Well, what do they mean??

The house sign - a visual symbol formed in a house's gable, carved above the entrance, or constructed into the facade itself - served as a central point of orientation within the cities of medieval Europe. Not only did these iconic symbols grant the house its identity and character, they often expressed something of the personality, profession, or even surname of the owner.

In Prague, the house insignia began to make its appearance by the end of the 14th century. Until then, houses could only be told apart by the names of their owners, or with a long verbal inscription. Early house signs were painted on wooden plaques or directly onto the facade, although soon they also came to assume the form of a quasi-sculpture in wood or stone. They could depict the likeness of animals, plants, or even to stars, the sun or the moon. They could also depict human figures - mermaids, Moors, angels, soldiers, knights - or objects of common use, such as a ring, a door, a bell, a goblet, a key, a violin.

When a house changed its ownership, it often changed its insignia as well. However, from the 15th or the early 16th centuries, the installation of an insignia on a house began to be regulated by a special department of the city government, which strove to ensure that no identical names would appear within a single street. Starting in 1770, the houses of Prague were assigned a numbering system, and the house insignia soon lost its original importance. Yet the practice of marking houses with a visual symbol didn't come to an end for quite a long time, remaining as an expression of urban tradition, or at least architectural decoration.

Of the surviving house insignia in Prague, we can assume that there are at least 200, possibly even 300. The majority of them remain visible on the walls of original medieval buildings in the historic centre of Prague - in Old Town, the Lesser Quarter, Hradčany, and even New Town, yet they can also be discovered at the very edge of the city in outlying districts. Unfortunately, many an insignia was forever lost to posterity as a result of neglect or insensitive restoration during the era of Communism.

Aside from their historic and artistic value, today they give their buildings a truly irreplaceable expressiveness and character, a charm, that so many modern buildings just can't achieve. Also, they make a direct reference to the history of the place where they stand, and to the fates of people who lived there many centuries ago. Finally, they bear within themselves their own specific magic, an uncertain boundary where the symbol ends and the legend begins. After all, each of these insignia were brought into being through a specific person's vision, ambition, story and emotions, so that these lovingly and carefully carved or painted scenes would be the originators of still further stories - those poetic legends that the people of Prague would in turn tell about them.

Capturing the unique enchantment of Prague's house insignia are the words of the great Czech poet Vítězslav Nezval, who expressed his deep-seated love for the city in his renowned prose A Wander in Prague: "It is in this sense that I understand the concept of tradition, seeing within it the dreamlike and secretive resurrection of everything that may, or that has the strength (however long forgotten) to, captivate us at those moments when we are at our most pure, in other words when our desires return us to the earliest memory of that which we ourselves are, from those times when we were intrigued far more by simple ballad and age-old tales than the vexed confusions of ordinary life."

So what exactly does this insignia of three violins represent?

The house of the Three Violins stands at the lower end of Nerudova Street in Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter).  In the 2nd half of the 17th century, it was purchased by the widow of a violin maker, Barbara Ottova, who willed it to her son-in-law, violin-maker Leonard Pradter.  The next owner of the house was Pradter's former apprentice, Tomás Edlinger.  Tomás and his son Jáchym Jan Edlinger brought the violin-making trade to great prosperity; their violins, lutes and mandolins were a household word in Bohemia and across central Europe.  And it was the Edlinger family that, sometime around 1700, commissioned the beautiful insignia of three tiny violins, to commemorate the three generations of master violin-makers who had lived there.  According to legend, the ghosts of the Lesser Quarter sometimes play upon them under a full moon.  None can say, however, if they play in tune or not.

The Three Violins
Nerudova 12

Happy Name Day, Zdeňka! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Zdeňka. Happy Name Day, Zdeňka!
The name Zdeňka is of Latin origin and is mainly used in the Czech language. Zdeňka means "woman from Sidon" and is a form of the English name Sidney.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's take a stroll amidst fragrant roses

I patiently wait for warm weather to arrive...very patiently. Ever so patiently. When it finally does, Prague just comes alive with the sounds of chatter and laughter, birds singing, and music fills the air. It's a vibrant, beautiful city all year round, but the warm weather brings about a buzz that you just can't feel.

One of my favorite things to do on a warm and sunny day is to stroll around the garden at Wallenstein Palace.

Wallenstein Garden (Valdštejnská Zahrada) belongs to Wallenstein Palace, the seat of the Senate of the Czech Republic.

Wallenstein Palace

The palace and garden were built in 1623-1630 in early Baroque style. Its construction was commissioned by one of the most powerful and wealthiest Czech noblemen, General Albrecht Vaclav Eusebius of Wallenstein (1583-1634). The palace was to be his Prague residence.

Albert spent only 12 months in the palace before he was killed in 1634 on emperor's orders. Nevertheless, he spent a lot of money on decorating the palace with carpets, tapestries and furniture, most brought over from Italy and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, none of this is left in the palace today - nearly all valuables were taken by the Swedish in 1648 as war booty.

The palace remained with the Wallenstein family until 1945. After that it belonged to the Czechoslovak state. Today, it is used as a seat for the Senate.

And, of course, Czech history doesn't come without a ghost story!
It's said that in front of the Palace, the headless ghost of a bellman appears. Apparently, said bellman used to wake Albert up at night, which made him so angry that he cut off the bellman's head. Ouch.

Dutch sculptor Adriaen de Vries made a series of sculptures representing Greek mythology for the garden in 1626. Sadly, they were also taken away as war booty by the Swedes and can be seen in the garden of Drootningholm Castle in Sweden. The sculptures in Wallenstein Garden are replicas.



The only sculpture given back to Prague is Venus with Amor and a dolphin by Benedikt Wurzelbauer from 1599. It's placed in the Prague Castle Gallery, but there's a replica in the Wallenstein can view it at the bronze fountain in front of the sala terrena.

Venus with Amor and a dolphin in front of the sala terrena

The sala terenna was built in 1627 by Andrea Spezza. It's 30 meters high and has three arcades. The walls of sala terrena are adorned by frescoes and stuccoes representing the Trojan War by Baccio di Bianco. If you have the opportunity, attend a concert in the sala terrena. It's like being transported by music to a fairytale land!

Wallenstein Garden is open April through October from 10 am - 6 pm. Concerts are held in spring and summer and are mostly free.

Letenská, Prague 1 (city centre)

There are three entrances to the garden:
- Gate from Metro at station Malostranska
- From the first yard of Wallenstein Palace
- From Letenská Street


Prague, My Love apologizes.  Sorry to all of my readers for not posting in what I consider too long.  I've missed writing and it won't happen again.   

Happy Name Day, Pavla! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Pavla.  Happy Name Day, Pavla!
The name Pavla is the Czech form of Paula, which is of Latin origin and means "small".

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy Name Day, Dobroslav! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Dobroslav.  Happy Name Day, Dobroslav!
The name Dobroslav is of  Czech origin and means "good glory".

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Happy Name Day, Dalibor! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Dalibor.  Happy name Day, Dalibor!
The name Dalibor is of Slavic origin and means "fighting far away".

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Name Day, Tamara! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Tamara.  Happy Name Day, Tamara!
The name Tamara is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "date palm".

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Happy Name Day, Jarmil! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Jarmil.  Happy Name Day, Jarmil!
The name Jarmil is of Czech origin and means "spring favor".

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


...for going silent for a bit.  
I guess we just needed some...

Happy Name Day, Laura! Všechno nejlepší k svátku!

Today we honor Laura.  Happy Name Day, Laura!
The name Laura is of Latin origin and means "the bay, or laurel plant."  In classical times, a crown was made from the leaves of the bay laurel for heroes and victors as a symbol of honor and victory.  It became a popular name after the 1944 film "Laura".