Prague Days 15 & 16 : Stromovka Park, Mucha's Slav Epic, and Petrin Hill


DAY 15


I needed nature today.

I took the #17 tram to Stromovka Park, the largest park in Prague, located well north of the main tourist areas. This park was once the royal hunting park. It is a lovely place to wander. I saw flocks of Wood Pigeons grazing (perhaps they should be called herds), a young Black-crowned Night Heron, Mallards, Coots, Magpies, Jackdaws, various members of the Tit family (think Chickadees if you are from North America), Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Seagulls, Red Squirrels, and a first for me: A Green Woodpecker. A most magnificent bird.

And then I needed more art.

I walked to Veletrzini Palace to see Alphonse Mucha's Slav Epic. Mucha is famous for his graphic design and posters but the Slav Epic is his masterwork. It took nearly twenty years to complete. This series twenty huge paintings celebrates the mythology and history of the Slavic peoples. This work floored me. I think I learned more about composition and the use of color in the two hours I spent here than I have in the last twenty years. These works are so tangible. The figures are real people. It is as if you could reach out toward them and feel real muscle and warm skin instead of paint and cold canvas.



Slavs in Their Original Homeland by Alphonse Mucha


I headed back to the New Town. I wandered Havelske Market, good for touristy items and fresh veggies and fruit. It was intensely crowded. I headed toward Wenceslas Square. There were iron mongers creating jewelry and iron roses. I have decided that the only roses I ever want to receive should be made of iron. Take note potential suitors.

My next stop was the Mucha Museum. This small museum is well worth visiting. It helps seeing the Slav Epic first. Then you can contrast that with looking at Mucha's life, his evolution as an artist, the posters and jewelry designs, and then look at wonder of the many photographs he took of models posed in his studio for the Slav Epic. Seeing this you being to understand just how much of a master draftsman he was, just how good a painter he was, how powerful a colorist he was.

I want to be back in the huge, cavernous room that houses the Slav Epic. Those paintings are so much more alive than everything else I've encountered since. They sing to me choruses of colors, line, and light. I am humbled and awed by it so.



A nearly deserted Karlova Street (its only like this very early in the morning). The Old Town Bridge Tower in the distance.



The Old Town side of the Old Town Bridge Tower. It's hard to get this shot since there's usually 500 people standing in the way.



Mallards, Moorhens, and a juvenile black-crowned night heron. Stromovka Park.



Juvenile black-crowned night heron.



Female Mallard grooming.



Mallard eyeing me as she brings her head out of the water.



A herd of Wood Pigeons.



Havelske Market.



Havelske Market. Witches are significant because April 30 is Witch's Night in the Czech Republic. I still hate puppets.



Forging iron roses and jewelry.



Again...roasting pork. I'm actually more interested in photographing the flames. I love capturing fire in my lens.


I ate fried curd balls from the vendors in Wenceslas square then poked around all the booths hawking goods. But then it began to rain rather fiercely and I fled back to the apartment, curled up on the couch, and spent a quiet night contemplating epic artistic undertakings.



DAY 16


I spent this day wandering Petrin Hill, walking along the tree lined pathways of this forest in the center of the city. Again I watched birds, this time warblers and tree creepers made an appearance. I passed waterfalls in fountains, an old wooden church, and the Hunger Wall, part of the medieval defenses of the city.  I stopped into some places I'd been before but felt the need to revisit, like Reon's Magic Cave and the vineyards, orchards below the castle. I wandered through Mala Strana and found myself once again on Kampa Island listening to yet another band play medieval and baroque music. Ate another sausage while listening to them and people watching. Then I made a circumnavigation of the Vltava in that area, taking photos.



Petrin Hill, Kinsky Gardens



Mallards



St. Michael Church, relocated from Ruthenia.



Hunger Wall



DETOUR INTO ARGONDIA, REON'S MAGIC CAVE













BACK IN PRAGUE

Strahov Monastery



A clear day. I wandered through the orchard/vineyard below.



Wandering down to Mala Strana


Magnificent door.


Another jazz band on Charles Bridge.




Jazz



Puppeteer on bridge. 



Yes, the man in the middle is pointing at something interesting, but what?




St. Anne...of the Pigeons?


Pigeons making themselves at home on St. Anne.


The Vltava


The Vltava


The Vltava


Swan boat on the Vltava


Real swan on the Vltava


Vltava



One of the locks on the Vltava.



Back on Kampa Island with another kind of locks. Finally the light is right.


Locks close up.


Bead making, Kampa Island.


Bead making



Bead making.



Art Nouveau masterpiece.











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