Thursday, 30 August 2007

Prague




I don't have any new wargaming photos so thought I might as well post a couple of Prague, where I spent the bank holiday weekend. Those who have been to Prague will know how beautiful the city is and how spectacular the Hussite architecture. Add all the beer and beautiful women and you have a lad's perfect weekend destination (unless you have a fiancee in tow....). The city has a real sense of "old Europe" about it; you quickly get the feeling that it has been there for thousands of years. The castle and main square are apparently the largest of their kind in Europe. It was a little strange to find a central European city that seems virtually untouched by WW2. But of course that is only architecturally speaking, and a visit to the exhibition at the Jewish Cemetary was a grim reminder of the human cost of the war.

The shopping was very good. Whilst the Kiwi was busy stocking up on Bohemian glassware, I discovered that cds are generally half the price they are in the UK and I have been listening to Smetana, Dvorak and Martinu almost continuously since we returned. Czech wine was pretty much what I expected - good, if slightly unsophisticated, Germanic whites and rather strange reds. I came across Frankovka for the first time, a native Slovak grape for red wine that goes quite well with goulash but is probably better suited to cleaning bathrooms. The picture above shows the Vltava from the Charles Bridge and the photo on the left below is of the parliament building with the castle in the background.

Anyway, on to the military stuff. Prague has a large number of museums, most of which I failed to visit in the 4 days I had (and they are all closed on Mondays) , but I did manage to squeeze in the Army Museum. As the name suggests, this is a museum about the Czech Army and the wars in which it fought, so the story begins just before the start of WW1 and continues up to the present day (I didn't manage to work out where all the Hussite armour is, perhaps in the National Museum). The exhibits are well-presented most of the captions are only in Czech. I saw dozens of medals and Czech uniforms but couldn't work out what they were. Most of the exibits concerned the two world wars, and it was interesting seeing uniforms and equipment from the Balkans Front of WW1, which in the UK at least is always overshadowed by Flanders and Gallipoli. The exhibits weren't that photogenic, but just to show that I did actually visit I have posted one photo below. These are uniforms from the early 1930s. The one on the left was worn by the Prague Frei-Korps. The caption to this uniform was the only one in the entire museum that had an English translation, which told me that the Frei-Korps "were traitors to their country and vexed and murdered their fellow citizens".....I'd also forgotten that Prague is where Czech commandos assassinated SS General Reinhard Heydrich in May 1942. The museum has photographs of the commandos and some of the equipment they carried. The Nazi reprisal was merciless - the village of Lidice outside Prague was completely destroyed and about 340 of its inhabitants killed.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It´s shame that you didn´t give a notice that you will visit Prague sooner. We can give you some tips what you must see here :-)

Standa

Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello Giles,

Looks like you and your fiance had a lovely time. Hope to visit Prague one day myself. Interesting photo from the museum. It's always surprising how small the old uniforms were cut and how closely they must have fit to the body -- even ones made in the 20th century.

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz

guy said...

We visited Prague just after the wall came down and there was huge excitement as the first McDonalds was just about to open. Got engaged sitting on a terrace overlooking the city just after we had come out of the castle and looked at a library with the most gloriously decorated ceiling.

Everything was terrible cheap then. We visited a sports museum and paid I think 5p entrance for us both. We were the only people in the place and a very helpful museum official gave us a guided tour.

I bought a few flat figures there, late medievals/knights I think, all painted in glorious technicolour.

Regards,
Guy