Upon me insisting on going to the castle once again, we took off one early morning, trying to waste as little time as possible waiting in queques. As we approached the areal from a different entrance, the St. Vitus Cathedral seemed to awaken in an especially mystical light.
Past the well-known Plečnik shapes, we headed right towards the third courtyard, where the entrance to Plečnik's gardens was supoosed to be.
Turns out that for the first time since Vyšehrad we would enjoy sunshine and blue skies, but as for the passage to the garden, I just couldn't find one.
Once we walked down the caste roads towards the lower entrance, we found the gate towards the South Gardens, but a soldier in front of the locked doors made me doubt we'd get to see any of them. However, as it was past the supposed opening hours and we were joined by a couple of other tourists, he obviously got the order to let us in - not without constantly keeping an eye on us from the distance.
And finally, we had all the time in the world to explore pillars and bowls, and above all, beautiful views of Prague still being covered in fog.
The Garden on the Ramparts, that runs alongside the castle's southern facade, turned out to be a lovely, peaceful place.
Somewhere along the wall, even master Plečnik enjoyed the warm rays, surrounded by cuttings of the world's oldest grapevine from Maribor...
... However, as we loooked back from the Belvedere, a huge mass of tourist was rolling towards us. Time to move on before we'd be run over!
Lots of colours despite the fact that autumn was already taking over.
It may sound cheesy, but the semicircular terrace sure has a magnificent view of Prague.
Lined by Plečnik's pyramid and the "small belvedere", it also is a great opportunity to sit down and enjoy the sun.
Just across the walking path, lies the Old royal castle with more greens, and finally, also the passage towards the castle's courtyards.
The Bull staircase. Inspired by Minoan art, it was built by Plečnik to connect the third courtyard with the gardens below. However, it is so much more than just stairs.
View from the courtyard. No wonder I couldn't make out this was the way to the gardens as the gates were closed and locked when I walked by, leading me to assume the staircase must lead to parts of te castle ground that are not open to public.More of Prague's great views.
Unlike the Ramparts garden, the Paradise garden is rather simple, but not necessarily less imposing. Mainly, it's dominated by a huge granite bowl and a seemingly endless staircase.
On its top, one will inevitable fnd the way out of Prague castle. And while some have (been) chosen to stay, others had one more thing to tick off their Prague list.
Namely, we'd head towards Petřín hill, a hillside full of parks and forest that can be seen from all over the city. Even though it seems to be located close to Prague castle, we decided to go down to Malá Strana and take the famous funicular to reach the top.
As the city was again covered in fog and clouds, we thought we'd just explore a small number of its sights. To discover it by foot, I'll probably have to come back to Prague another time ;)
After a little bit of waiting to board the train (I can only assume waiting may be a *little* longer during tourist season), we comfortably reached the plateau atop the hill and headed towards the Petřín Lookout Tower (Petřínská rozhledna). Built to resemble the Eiffel Tower, it's "only" 63.5 m high and has a viewng platform that is accessable via 299 stairs or an elevator.
Form the platform, one can explore the colors of nature as well as the views of Prague.
View across Petřín hill towards Vyšehrad.
Strahov monastery (Strahovský klášter)
Prague city center with Vltava and Charles bridge
Church of St. Lawrence
Chasing the sun (and the rain chasing us), we went to explore the Mirror Maze. It's optical illusions will give you a laugh and puzzle you on your way towards the exit, but it's rather a nice distraction/entertainment for kids than an absolute must-see.
Due to the season, the rose garden was of course not what it might be in the summer months, but past it we reached another attraction which turned out to be one of Prague's highlights.
Guarded by Milan Rastislav Štefánik, the Štefánik Observatory might unintentionally chase away interested visitors by an entrance that is labeled as such by a handmade-looking sign, but seems to be closed at first sight. Only during our search for the right entrance, a couple of tourists walked along the fence only to walk away in the end.
In fact, all one has to do is walk through the garden gate and enter the building. From then on, friendly personel will lead through the cosmos with fascinating information on stars, planets and more. Apart from an exhibition of asteroids from all around the world, you can perform a number of experiments and even have a look through two of the observatory's telescopes.
We must have been really lucky as the sun decided to come out for a moment even on a cloudy afternoon, which gave us the chance to see its geomagnetic storms and even a sunspot.
And very soon, I would indeed find myself in other spheres...
~ to be continued ~