The primary plan of the day was going to see Zvon #9801, on its barge on the west bank of the Vltava river
Orthodox Easter in Prague, The plan was to start with a wonderful breakfast at the Savoy Café, always a joy. Order the “Savoy” Breakfast, you’ll thank me later. Then we’d head back to the gingerbread shop, yes, we ate it all overnight. We would wander back south, to Zvon #9801, via a different route than yesterday.
We decided to make the 1.5-mile walk, to make sure the entire menu was in play, but jumped on a tram, since it was there as we approached the station. Many people heading to Easter services, what was interesting, was the men and boys were carrying baskets full of fruit and vegetables, covered in a cloth with a cross. I searched, but couldn’t find any Czech traditions only Polish, so I asked my Czech friend, She had never heard of it, she is Moravian, she came up with “must be a some crazy Bohemian tradition”.
Crossing over Most Legií (Legion Bridge), looking over your shoulder will provide you with a great view of Národní divadlo (National Theatre). Always take your time crossing the bridges of Prague, and look around, they provide you with the best views of this beautiful city.
We arrived at the Café Savoy, a few minutes early and enjoyed a nice crisp morning just watching the world go by. The original café opened in 1893. The café has had its struggles throughout its 130-year history. The café closed through the First World War, and reopened as several types of shops and businesses afterward.
There are various stories about the survival of the Neo-Renaissance ceiling, one is that the original owners covered the ceiling before the nazi occupation in 1938. To prevent the nazi theft of the chandeliers, and destruction of the ceiling because that is what nazis are good at stealing stuff and breaking what they can’t steal! The other story is that post-World War II, the communist secret police took over the building, and covered up the ceiling because it was/is very decadent.
I have trouble believing the second story because the nazi’s would have done nazi stuff and destroyed it. I don’t think the communists would have taken the care to cover it in plaster so that I could eventually be restored. The cheaper and easier way would have been to just paint over it, that’s what I think the commies would have done. Enough of the rant, as you can tell, I am not a big fan of communists or nazis.
On to the food, the menu is varied and delicious, but just go all in and order the “Savoy Breakfast”. I have had several meals here in the past, and it is all great. The service is impeccable, great professional wait staff, make it an enjoyable experience.
After breakfast, we headed back to Mala Strana for some more Perník (Gingerbread), so we walked to the nearby tram stop, that is near the memorial to the victims of communism, and the Hungry Wall (Built in 1360) on Petřín Hill. The tram takes you on a unique section of the Prague Tram network, a place where two tracks merge into one, then back to two (sorry, I’m a tram nerd)
Perník in hand, we headed to our next planned location, Zvon #9801, with a couple of extra stops on the way.
Church of Our Lady Victorious and The Infant Jesus of Prague
Ironically, not far from where I live in Virginia is the Shrine of the Infant of Prague Catholic Church, in Wakefield, Virginia. I have never been inside the Virginia church, but I think it would be interesting to do a comparison. That sounds like a great idea for a future post. We did visit the church in Prague, but did not spend much time there, as we arrived 15 minutes before mass, we made a quick and quiet visit, stayed in the back, and did not interfere. Many churches have restrictions on access, due to the rudeness of tourists, that do not understand, it is a church first and a tourist attraction last with many other things in between.
It is not hard to see whose side the Czech people are on, there are reminders everywhere you go, including a buried Russian tank AKA “Torso Tank” y David Černy, that is currently painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. We jumped off the tram at the next stop, and headed towards the river, where we were greeted with a stark reminder of the war in Ukraine. Next to the river were/are the remains of three cars from Ukraine, that have seen much better days. The cars were shot up and burned, I am guessing, by the Russians.
Zvon #9801 is a 9,801 kilogram (21,607 Lb) bell, that was made as a memorial to the 9,801 bells that were silenced by the nazi’s during World War II to make munitions. During World War I, bells were requisitioned, but those bells were all replaced shortly after the end of the war. The communists took power shortly after WWII, and replacing church bells was not high on their list of priorities.
Zvon #9801 is intended to be a rallying point to raise awareness and funds to replace the 9,801 lost bells. In the future, Zvon #9801 will stand on Rohanský ostrov, which is the site where the requisitioned bells stored before being taken away to be melted down. Over the summer months, Zvon #9801 will be rung every Thursday evening, at 6PM and on special occasions, in remembrance and to raise awareness. We got lucky because as soon as we arrived, a tugboat started taking Zvon #9801 away up the Vltava. I would have been a bit bummed if we had missed it.
Vyšehrad railway bridge
We continued south to the Vyšehrad railway bridge, to cross back over the Vltava. Walking across the bridge is great if you like seeing trains close up. Every time we have walked across this bridge, there has been at least one train crossing. I think the bridge is due to be closed to pedestrians soon because the bridge is getting a major refurbishment in the next year or so.