Luckily enough, Germany had another long holiday weekend this past week. A few friends and I chose to spend this long weekend traveling to Prague, a city with thousands of years of unique history. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the trip was traveling to the Prague castle which was built by Bořivoj in around 880. Not only does that date amaze me but the Prague castle is also the biggest castle in the world, which is something that none of us realized prior to going and as a result we got very lost. We arrived at the castle around noon so that we would be able to see the guard changing. Changing of the Guard takes place in the first courtyard of Prague Castle daily. This change is the formal handover carried out with a fanfare and banner exchange at the gates of the medieval castle.
Inside the prague castle is the most unique cathedrals I have ever seen, St Vitus cathedral. This cathedral is a prominent example of Gothic architecture, making it extremely beautiful and interesting. Unfortunately the line to get inside the cathedral went on for miles. If I ever make my way back to Prague I would like to visit this area again at a less popular time in hopes of avoiding a majority of the insane crowds.
Another of my favorite parts of the trip was exploring the Jewish history that comes along with the city of Prague. I was fascinated by walking past all of the unique synagogues in the Jewish quarter. My favorite synagogue to visit was the Jubilee synagogue because it had the most interesting and jaw dropping design. The front entrance of the synagogue is colored with ten different shades of blues, pinks and golds. In addition, the synagogue was built in the early 1900’s and still serves religious purposes to this day. The 17th century is considered the Golden Age of Jewish Prague because the Jewish community numbered some 15,000 people which is about 30 percent of the entire population. This made Prague the second largest Jewish community in Europe.
Over the centuries, the Jews were banned from living anywhere else in Prague other than this quarter. With constant new arrivals from Moravia, Germany, Austria and Spain joining, the quarter eventually became extremely crowded.
Adolf Hitler decided to preserve the Jewish Quarter as a type of “Museum of an Extinct Race”. Because of this, some of the most historical buildings were saved from destruction of the Nazis and stand in prague still today. Together they create some of the best preserved historical Jewish monuments. The Jewish Quarter has six synagogues and together we were able to see almost all of them. Unfortunately, because we were traveling on a sunday the Jewish Cemetery was closed for the day, making another location I would like to travel back to.
Lastly, another highlight of our trip was visiting the top of the astronomical clock, a clock that dates back to 1410. However, it is not just your average time telling clock, an astronomical clock, dials to display astronomical information, such as the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations. At the top of the tower, we were given an amazing view of the entirety of Prague. My favorite part was seeing the amazing view of the Church of Our Lady before Týn. This building has one of the most impressive Gothic religious buildings in Prague. This building is also extremely historical, as it was built from the mid-14th centuries.
Traveling around to other cities has made me realise how grateful I am to be in a host country with only mild cultural barriers. One of my favorite cultural differences has been that the Germans are always very punctual. I am glad that I am getting internship experience in a place that greatly respects planning and being on time. This is a habit that I want to practice for the rest of my life, especially in work environments. Whenever we have scheduled meetings within the work day it is extremely unlikely for any employee to arrive late even by a few minutes.
Something that has been more difficult to adapt to is paying extra attention when navigating the streets. Berlin has a high population of bikers, in fact, I feel as though most half of the workforce rides a bike to work. The bike lines are not marked very clearly, in my opinion. As a result, I am constantly getting into people’s ways because I am not used to this part of their culture. Not only can this get very frustrating but it is also very dangerous for both me and the bikers because they are traveling so fast and always expect walkers to be paying attention.