Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prague at Christmastime

Old Town Square at Christmastime
Some of my friends and relatives thought I was a bit nuts to go to Prague in December, picturing a cold, bleak city. However, at this time of year, Prague explodes with lights and activity. The above picture was taken at around 9:30pm on the Old Town Square, after the crowds had died down a bit. But all over the city, there are lights, christmas trees, and groups performing, like this choral group performing on the stage at Old Town Square:
Wenceslas Square also gets totally packed with people, mostly locals going shopping. In both squares (and several others in the city that I saw) there are stalls selling christmas loot, from local crafts and foods to generic items like scarves and those orange hippie crystal lamps that seem to be sold at every flea market and farmer's market on earth in the last couple of years.

If you look closely at the following photo, you'll see a something that looks like an elongated donut on top of one of the stalls. I don't remember the name of it, but it's made by wrapping some dough around a cylinder, then rotating the cylinder (either cranked by hand, or in some cases using a motor, which is probably cheating) above an open flame. The resulting flame-baked pastry is then rolled in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Update from "It is called Staroceske trdlo (Old-Bohemian muff) and it is food from medieval times. And it’s great."
Old Town Square at Christmastime
I gather it's a traditional Czech item--the people making it wear old-timey baker's clothes. I didn't get a close-up picture because I was too busy eating one. As you can also probably see from the photo, they're a popular item.

There are also at least half a dozen "Hot Wine" vendors on the square. This is a a great way to warm up on a cold evening. Another food item I liked was what a stand called "Bohemian Traditional Piglet", which was basically chopped roasted suckling pig on a roll.

Here's the view up Parizka, a high-end shopping street running north from Old Town Square into Josevof:
Looking Up Parizka at Christmastime
And here's a nativity scene made out of straw outside the St. Vitus Cathedral:
Nativity Scene, St. Vitus Cathedral
and another singing group at St. Vitus:
Chrismas Chorus at St. Vitus Cathedral