My husband and I were able to spend three days in Prague and I could not be more surprised. Prague is a city filled with grand architecture, scenic bridges over waterways, and beautiful churches.
It’s a tourist city in that most people speak English and the people are friendly. Getting around the city is easy, whether you walk or take a taxi. Taxis are easy to find. For walkers, there are large boulevards in the shopping district that are pedestrian-only. The same is true of some of the historic area. Restaurants and cafes are plentiful. At night, you will find many people are out and about, and you do not feel afraid to walk around after dark.
Prague is the Capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is located in the northwestern part of the country and the country is bordered by Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. Prague is the 14th largest city in the European Union. Although Czech Republic is in the European Union, it is not fully in the EU, they do not use the ‘Euro’ for money. For that reason, prices are still relatively inexpensive for goods and services.
Historically, Prague was the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Because of its importance after World War 1, Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia. And, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become a very popular tourist destination.
There are many boats that take tourists down the river Vlatava that courses through the city. Below is one of the tourist boats sailing below a bridge that crosses the River Vltava.
The most renowned bridge of Prague is the Charles Bridge. On the day we visited Prague it was rainy. The sky was uninteresting but the colors of the city stood out against the gray sky.
The Charles Bridge is a pedestrian bridge of cobblestone, lined with statues of historic figures and ornate lamp posts. The large building in the center of the picture below is called the Powder Tower, a classic example of Gothic architecture.
From the Charles Bridge you can view across the river Vltava to the Prague Castle, and the St. Vitus Cathedral on a hill. The bridge was named for King Charles IV who commissioned it to be built. (Settings: 1/100 sec at f/11, ISO 800).
St. Vitus Cathedral a classic Gothic Cathedral and is the biggest church in the country. It dates from 1344. I just typed the year 1344 and I had to recheck to make sure it was not a typo. I am an American who is used to buildings which date to 1900 and occasionally to 1800 but very rarely to 1700. Although the Cathedral was started in the 14th century it was not finished until many centuries later.
On our tours around the city we had a guide provided by the cruise ship. They were excellent with their knowledge of the city and its history. But you were always on the move. As a photographer, I did not have time to set up a tripod and make sure that my focus was sharp and my exposure was perfect. You have to take the photograph and use settings to make sure that you can get a decent photo. In the St. Vitus Cathedral photo above, you must make allowances for the low light. Settings: 1/50sec at f/8.0, ISO: 2000. You must use a relatively high ISO setting, that allows you to use a larger aperture so as to get greater focus front to back. You quickly adjust adjust your settings as you photograph. (Note: check your histogram to make sure the blacks and whites are not outside of the lines of the graph.)
Often I like to take spontaneous photos of scenes with people in shops and I want it to be a spontaneous photo where no one knows you are photographing–just people going about their business. For those kinds of pictures, you need to have your camera ready with correct ISO, aperture and shutter speed to get your photo. The photo below is an example of a ‘shop photo’. I like pretzels and I liked how they were lined up. But you can see that I did not have the best shutter speed because the young man in the front is blurred from movement. I still like the ambience and the movement.
On our tour of Prague, the guide took us to the French Embassy where we could see hundreds of candles and lights outside the Embassy. These lights were placed to commemorate those who had lost their lives in France due to a terrorist bomb just a few days previously.
One last photo of a shop window with many hand-made tree ornaments.
There is so much to see in Prague that I had to devote another blog to Prague. So the next blog will focus on Old Town of Prague – A Visit to Prague-Part II.
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