Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 7 Prague

Our day began at the Strahov Monastery, manned by friars who came to Prague in the 12th century from France, after they had returned from the Holy Lands and sold their services as guards, bibliophiles (librarians) and book copiers/scribes. In the two fascinating halls of their library, one for the theological works, and the other for philosophical works, we saw an excellent example of how these church institutions were the depository and guardians of culture in Europe. This library contains over 45,000 volumes of work dating back to the 10th century.

From our view at the top of the hill, we overlooked the spectacular view of Prague, and discussed its different units: The Castle Town, Lesser Town, New Town, and the Old Town which includes the Jewish Ghetto. All of these were in place by the 14th century, when Charles IV was the Holy Roman Emperor and Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Next, we saw the Czernin Palace, which today houses the Foreign Ministry, and the Loretto Shrine, one of the finest baroque structures.

Continuing into the Castle premises, we saw a whole diversity of architectural styles, beginning at the St. Vitus Cathedral, with its unique gothic and neo-gothic architecture. As we walked through the king's palace, Shalmi explained the significance of manure in world history and how defenestration was utilized to punish individuals.

We then went into the Lobkowicz Palace. The Lobkowicz family is one of the most important in Czech nobility whose estate and property were very, very extensive. They lost their property twice in recent history: once to the Nazis, and once to the Communists. They retrieved it in 1989 after the Velvet Revolution, and recently opened it to the public as a museum. Inside we had an intimate look at the inside of palace life, and especially at the Lobkowicz's contribution to culture: music, painting, and architecture.

After lunch, we walked through the Lesser Town, crossed the Charles Bridge into the Old City of Prague, and saw the Clementinum, the Jesuit campus. The Jesuits were called in after the 30 Years War to head the spiritual and cultural revolution initiated by the Catholic Church in what was to be the counter reformation. Their main role was in rebuilding education in order to disseminate the principles of the Church. This was the first case of a cultural revolution that caused ambivalent attitudes within Christianity.

Before dinner, Alexandra Zapruder read excerpts from Otto Wolf's diary, and led a discussion about the role of the diary in the Wolf family. When Otto is captured and killed by the Vlasovites in April of 1944, his sister Lici took over writing the diary. She writes the last entries, ending on VE day, May 8, 1945. We are looking forward to tomorrow when we will meet Lici's daughter, Eva, in Olomouc at the Jewish Community Center. Eva and her husband will be joining us for the dedication of the memorial to the Wolf family and their rescuers in Trsice on Monday.


  1. you guys had quite a nice day to day. I hope you all took in the beautiful architecture and culture you saw. Prague is a city that still has so much history within everything. I remeber being fascinated by many of the buildings and churches that we saw.

    I am so jelous of you guys being able to meet Alexandra Zapruder and talk to her about the diaries she has used to make up Salvaged Pages especially Otto Wolfs. I can't wait to read about the dedication ceremony.

    Miss you T.


  2. Hope you're all doing well. So looking forward to Mondays dedication. Please post photos.

    Mr. Pevny

  3. Wow, such nice pictures to capture the moment of you all taking in wonderful historical beauty! One week down, one to go and still so much to learn, see and experience... Hope you all have a wonderful (and warmer) Palm Sunday!

    Oh and hi Amanda...

    Btw it is going to snow and accumulate 2-3 feet here in the next 2 days... Crazy!

    April fools!!!! :)

  4. The pictures posted today are beautiful. The architecture, history, and the group photo! (Nice to see your smiles). Safe travels & I am looking to forward to your posts on meeting Eva.

  5. The monastery pictures are beautiful. As is the pic of everyone SMILING! I'm happy to see everyone enjoying what looks like a joyful moment! Tomorrow's dedication is sure to be special. Continued safe journey!

  6. Prague is a beautiful city with incredible history! I look forward to reading about Monday's dedication.
    Stay well!
    Mrs. Mayer

  7. Prague is most definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and filled with such rich culture. I hope you all enjoyed it.

    I keep forgetting to add this in my comments, but I am SO beyond jealous that you all are spending so much time with Alexandra Zapruder. She certainly has knowledge in a different element of the Holocaust to offer: children's diaries. Please take advantage and ask as many questions to her as possible.

    Good luck at Trsice on Monday! I, to this day, vividly remember everything about that beautiful place with the most heart-warming people I have ever met. Cannot wait to hear about your experiences there through the blog.


    Mr. Chang, I hope you miss me :)

    -Michelle Khimishman

  8. I'm just catching up on all the sites you've been visiting and Prague looks absolutely beautiful! I would love to spend time in the monastery and in the castle! Amazingly rich histories in both places. I'm so impressed with the level of learning you are all exhibiting in your writing. I have no doubt that the emotional connections you are making with these places and events are at the core of this. You're really experiencing education at its best- a holistic approach that involves the whole person: body, soul, and emotions.Continue to be open to all you see and feel. Can't wait to talk to you all when you get home
    Mrs. DePoto

  9. Wow those images of the Strahov Monastery are amazing. I was immediately drawn to the ceiling. I truly feel Frescos are lost on American culture because we weren't around during the renaissance. I also think that it is so cool you guys had the chance to listen to Alexandra Zapruder! She is an inspiring woman.

  10. The castle and monastery are so beautiful! It's incredible that all of that is still there and that someone actually did that. Prague is so gorgeous, hope everyone's having fun!

  11. Hello everyone! It has been just incredible to read about, watch and listen to all of your insights and emotions during your experience. The pictures are amazing and I can only imagine what it is like in person. I am looking forward to what is ahead for you all. For now, stay safe and make the most of your opportunities.

  12. Dear brave and noble travelers:
    I'm just catching up on all that you have done, seen, heard, and considered. I got behind because LIFE got in the way. The weight of all the work you are doing comes through in the descriptions and pictures and written and spoken commentary. (no one is looking at the camera and smiling and saying cheese, or holding rabbit ears behind another fellow traveler!). Will the real HUMANITY please stand up? Is it the atrocious and cruel, or is it the kind and merciful? i remember C.S. Lewis initially raised protestant (I believe) began a period of disbelief and confusion and questioning when he went to war (WWI I believe) and saw the atrocities (or read about them). The question that burned in his thinking was: how can there be a God if He allows such awful things to take place? My personal answer to that question is that awfulness and atrocity result from the absence of the presence of God. God has to be invited, welcomed, wanted, appreciated, like goodness, like love, kindness, empathy that are all THINGS that are demonstrated by actions - action of others is how we know those qualities. Action is also how we know the bad. Note to self: action is huge! Second note to self: the only thing that counts is action for the good (of what you ask, well that GOOD is up to you, that is where we define ourselves!) I feel proud to be "watching"....You all make noble the events you are part of on your, kisses, hugs and cartwheels....into infinity....

    1. 90 degrees today in Kansas. Looks like your weather is cooler. Beautiful pictures. Enjoy the dedication tomorrow. Wonderful!

  13. Wow. These videos and pictures are so interesting and informative. I feel like I'm learning so much and I'm not even there! The Strahov Monastery's ceiling is hands down amazing. It's beautiful. I would love to see that in person. Can't wait to see the dedication photos. Capture the moment! Keep posting and I'll keep following.

  14. The pictures of the Strahoc Manstery's ceiling are beautiful. It is sometimes hard to remember such beauty when there was so much sadness. Can't wait to see what is next.

  15. I love the diverse architectural styles concentrated in one place, as well as the sheer amount of history in the library!

  16. I love the monastery it is so beautiful. I love all the books in the library too, it would be so amazing if I could just read a portion of those books.

  17. Strahov Monastery's ceiling looked gorgeous, it has such a unique feel to it when I look at it. If someone would have told me that was in Vatican City I'd have believed them. The city itself is incredibly beautiful with so much history (for better or worse). It is definitely a place to put on a life goals list.

  18. What beautiful pieces of history! I have to go there so I can see all of this in person. I don't think I will ever be able to fully grasp all of what you are showing and telling us through photos and your words until I too experience it first hand.

  19. The pictures of the monastery and cathedral as well as everything else in Prague are so beautiful! They caused me to think about how although horrible things such as the Holocaust have happened throughout history, there is still a lot of beauty to be found in the world.

  20. Wow the architecture there is absolutely amazing and the ceilings are so intricately designed; so gorgeous! What a cool experience this trip is!

    Emily curram