Gothic-medieval atmosphere is still alive today in Prague’s Old Town, which is considered one of the best preserved architectural areas in Europe. What is not known is that behind more than a thousand years, Prague was a town of alchemists, a place where secrets have all been gathered over time, many of them remain unresolved until today.
The Hebrew Cemetery in Prague
It might sound strange, but Hebrew Cemetery in Prague is one of the most important tourist attractions in Europe and one of the oldest Hebrew cemeteries in the world, according to some records dating back to the 10th century, and according to others in the 15th century.
Like Umberto Eco’s novel that made the cemetery famous, the cemetery itself is a place that must be understood layer to layer, as graves level some over others. In some places there are even 10 layers of tombs from different periods. Many of them are no longer visible, but are completely buried in the ground.
If you are fascinated by the stone statues and burial inscriptions you have to spend a few hours in the Hebrew Cemetery searching for graves dating back hundreds of years. Surely you cannot cover all the 12,000 graves, but you will learn so many things about the history and the traditions of these people. It’s good to know that the cemetery is almost always full of curious people walking the cobblestone alleys, so if you opt for a city break in Prague’s good to get the early hours of the morning.
Perhaps this cemetery located in the northern part of Prague is not as popular as the Hebrew Cemetery, but certainly is as mysterious, maybe even has a more mysterious aura than the previous. A few hundred years ago, Bohnice was just a village near the capital and in just 100 years the place had become a major psychiatric hospital.
In the cemetery, there are more than 3,000 graves, and many commemorative plates not even readable. So it’s really a place where nature has erased almost every trace of people who were buried there. If you want to discover a cemetery where almost everybody is neglecting because it’s not on the touristic map and the relatives of the deceased have disappeared one by one, you can put it on the list then visit the Bohnice Cemetery while staying in Prague.
Today, the cemetery’s chapel is in ruin and many of the graves are covered with ivy. The place is almost scary, so be careful not to catch the night there.
Museum of MedievalTorture
It’s not necessarily a place where you feel comfortable, but it’s one of the darkest of Prague museums that you can visit precisely because it tells a different story about a less pleasant side of humanity.
In a special gallery of the Museum of Torture in Prague you will find a widely complex torture toolkit especially used for the alleged witches or heretics; among them there are masks of steel, spiked chairs and lots of documents explaining how torture should be applied to individuals who would disobey the law, whether religious or social.
The museum is not hard to find, it is on the Celetna Street in old town, right near the Carol Bridge which surely you walk on if you choose a city break in Prague. Carol Bridge is one of the most popular places in Prague. From there you can explore the city’s Gothic history. Like many places in Prague, the medieval legends of this bridge say that cannot be broken down. And if you believe in superstitions, you can make a wish on Carol Bridge as they say that it comes true. All you have to do is touch the cross placed on the bridge following the death of an innocent man.
If you like to discover places that are not in guidebooks, then you could avoid congestion at the Prague Castle or in front of the Tower Clock and venture instead into one of the oldest neighborhoods in Prague, Vysehrad. You can visit the Vysehrad Castle on the banks of the Vltava, the once imposing Gothic ruins.
Vysehrad area is quite mysterious also due to the legends saying that there might be an extremely valuable treasure buried in the area, but also because there are many underground galleries, some of them accessible to the public. But the object whose history is more shrouded in mystery than any other is the Devil’s Column, whose origin is uncertain. The three stone columns might have been a part of a Roman basilica, as well as a clock lasting from the period when the early Slavs have settled in the area. Another legend says that the stone had been thrown by the devil himself in rage, when he lost a bet with a priest.
The House of Dr. Faustus
A regular house in Prague or elsewhere is not a tourist objective, normally, be it and obscure, if it hadn’t been for someone would have lived or died there. But this does not apply when it comes to the House of Faustus in Prague, known for its dark history has added to the city’s urban mythology.
Like many other places in Prague, Faustus’s House is also a place with a history of hundreds of years, from when alchemists tried all sorts of potions. If you liked Doctor Faustus and many stories or fictional works that have transformed Dr. Faustus us into a legendary character, you could visit his house just for the simple fact that here, they say, had lived Dr. Faustus himself.
Depending on where you accommodation in Prague is, you can reach this landmark by underground or bus down to Carol Square, where the House of Faustus is located. Another mysterious story is linked to the place where the house was built. Even today the locals call the area by the name Na Morani, as it’s said that, in medieval times here there people performed sacrifices in the name of Goddess Morana. The House of Dr. Faustus cannot be visited inside, only admired from the outside, as the estate belongs to the Faculty of Medicine of the University St. Carol.
And these are only few things you can see while in Prague. Get ready for the continuation…
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