Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Monday's House Insignia of the Day Revealed - The Green Frog

House at The Green Frog

The Green Frog house has always contained an inn or wine cellar on its ground floor, even to this day.  One of the earliest establishments was greatly frequented by the town executioner Mydlář, known among his other deeds for beheading the 27 Czech lords and burghers who joined the uprising of the Bohemian Estates, carrying out his gory task not far away from Old Town Square in the year 1621.  Another visitor to the same tavern, though of far less gruesome bent, was the renowned Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel.  During his stay in Prague, he diligently made the rounds of various hostelries, compelled rather less by mere thirst than the needs of his art.  Brueghel was always sketching portraits of intriguing faces, grimaces, gestures, movements - and of course fights and brawls.  And whenever nothing of visual interest was taking place, he himself unobtrusively provoked various disputes, simply to have material for his sketchbook.  Yet the citizens of Prague soon saw through the Flemish master's tricks, and so whenever any tap room commotion arose, the passers-by would say, "There's that 'Brajgl' again!"  Adapted to the vagaries of local pronunciation, the word brajgl remained in Prague's dialect as a memory of the great painter, and even today still designates great disorder and chaos.

The Hay Harvest by Pieter Brueghel the Elder
Located at Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle

As for the tale usually associated with the stone frog on the building's façade, it tells of a tailor by the name of Lobytek, who lived here in the early 15th century.  Above all else, he loved jugglers and acrobats, endlessly observing their tricks and dreaming that one day he could join them in their craft.  He sewed for himself a green tunic, of the sort that acrobats wore for their appearances, and in the seclusion of his own house attempted to mimic their movements.  One day, he succeeded in placing his legs behind his head - yet reversing the procedure was much more difficult.  While in this position, he was discovered by his housekeeper; yet instead of rushing to help him, she ran outside and terrified the neighbors with a tale about her master having been swallowed by a giant green frog.  Soon, however, everything was satisfactorily explained, and the episode occasioned many a laugh across the city.  When Master Lobytek died, his neighbors are said to have ordered that a green frog be carved into the stone above his door, a s a memorial to the deceased.  It is, however, only a legend, sine the actual sign of the stone frog dates from nearly two hundred years later. 

Today, the building is home to a Brazilian restaurant that is part of the Ambiente Restaurants Group
and a hotel, U Tří bubnů (Hotel at the Three Drums)

Location:  U Radnice 8, Old Town