An Old Crowded Jewish Cemetery

Dear Reader,

the lack of space can be a problem even for cemetery authorities. So in Prague I found this beautiful synagogue which has been facing a particular problem for many decades now…

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The cemetery is nearly 600 years old, and has about 12,000 tombstones packed in it. However, a curious fact makes this cemetery extremely over-packed with bodies…

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Nobody really knows when the cemetery was founded as there are gravestones that date back to 1430, earlier than what many people suggest. Either way, regardless its foundation date, this cemetery indeed managed to survive in the same spot for hundreds of years, accumulating thousands of bodies all stacked on top of each other forming layers, and here is why: according to Jewish tradition, no body can ever be moved from its original burial site, so when space became a problem, bodies were simply put in layers, now 12 deep. So given the piling-up of bodies it is estimated that in this place there are about 100,000 bodies buried in the ground.

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The Change of Guards

Dear Reader,

I was told “You have to watch the change of guards, you can’t miss that!” as I sipped hot chocolate in Prague for breakfast. I replied “Why?”
Then it hit me. It was freezing cold outside that day, probably below -4 °c and still, Prague is meant to be seen in cold winter so armed we were and ready to see this supposedly famous change of guard 🙂

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We took the day easy as the Castle of Prague is quite big and filled with stunning pieces of art. But at 12 o’clock on the dock we were ready at the entrance of Castle of Prague to watch the Changing Guards ceremony.

It takes place in the first courtyard of the Prague Castle every day at 12:00 o’clock. The ceremony depicts the formal handover carried out with a fanfare and banner exchange.

Look at the entire ceremony 🙂 apologies for any noise you hear in the background. My mother was commenting the event and couldn’t stay quiet.

You might these are ordinary soldiers… but in fact is that the service members are carefully chosen from the Czech army under many criteria:

  • all candidates must be members of the professional Czech army, which means that they have to have good health and be in an excellent physical condition;
  • they also have to have a certain height and cannot be overweight;
  • bodily decoration (piercing, tattoos or a moustache and beard) are forbidden;
  • they have to keep a clear hair cut;
  • they cannot wear glasses etc. This division has 660 members and their duty is to secure the safety of the president as well of the whole country.

 

Charles Bridge: the bridge made of Eggs

Dear Reader,

Maybe you don’t know this but sometimes eggs serve a second purpose aside from eating them or using them for pastry purpose.

In Prague I actually learned how eggs can be used as construction material for bridges. So here is the story of Charles Bridge of Prague.

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Charles Bridge is without a doubt one of the top of every Prague visitor’s must-see list. And I bet that you have been to Prague you have already seen it.

It is a remarkable beautiful bridge…

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Erected around the year 1700 by architect Petr Parler (who also built the Castle of Prague), Charles Bridge is 515 metres long and 10 metres wide, decorated by a continuous alley of 30 baroque statues and statuary

But I believe there are things about the Charles Bridge you don’t know yet…

You have probably read somewhere that the construction of the most famous bridge of all across the Vltava River, the Charles Bridge, was commissioned by the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1357. The King and Charles IV wanted to connect Prague with the Vltava river banks and they succeeded by first building the Judith Bridge, in the same place where Charles Bridge stands today. Thing is the flood of the year 1342 destroyed it, so Charles Bridge became the replacement.

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Judith Bridge was made of stone. Charles Bridge is not…

Charles Bridge was built using Bohemian sandstone. It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge – just like adding egg yolks when baking to make the dough hold together better.

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There is no evidence if this is true or just a legend, however, how else can you explain that the Charles Bridge has survived many floods, most recently in August 2002 when the whole country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years? The egg yolks might have truly helped.

Now Stanito has new found respect for eggs 🙂

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Happy 2016!

Dear Reader,
Happy belated New Year 🙂
Stanito staff is back home in  Mexico after a European adventure tail: Italy, Czech Republic and surroundings.
Some quick photos have been uploaded on the road but now is time to dig in the deep stories of the places we have visited starting from this week! So stay tuned in, dear Reader!

Before we dig into new stories I’ll share with you another short gallery of photos of Italy and Czech Republic. Photo quality is phone so please wait until I upload the real pictures 🙂

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This is Pitigliano. Also known as the Jerusalem of Italy due to its Jews community.
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The Old Spanish Synagogue of Prague. A true jewel.
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The beautiful Castle of Prague
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The Old Town Square of Prague.
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Cathedral of the Castle of Prague

The Ossaryum of Sedlet

Dear Reader,
I’ve just visited the creepiest church ever: the Ossaryum of Sedlet.

Ossaryum of Sedlet, 65 km from Prague:

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The entire chapel is accurately decorated with bones. The creator of this magnificent place was the Duke of Schwarzemberg, inspired by an abbot who in the year 1200 threw on the ground a small amount of sand from Golgotha promising Heaven to whomever was to be buried in that place.
Very basic practice of religion back in those days…

More on this very soon.

Prague Castle

Dear Reader,
Remember when we talked about monuments that are unfinished and have been taken over by more architects in time? Like the Sagrada Familia, right?

Well the construction of the Castle of Prague started in the year 1340 and  finished only 87 years ago!

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Many styles and trends all thrown together as you can imagine. Let’s start with its frontal face…

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Inspire of been mainly a medieval monument, can you find the 4 men dresses in a suit?