ISSUE 8, January 2004
Editorial
Musical Masons: Gilbert and Sullivan
Travel: Proud Prague
Charge of a Mason: The Charge of the Light Brigade
Supreme Grand Chapter: Speech by the Pro First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Israel: 50th Anniversary of Grand Lodge
London Masonry: Inauguration of Metropolitan Grand Lodge and the Metropolitan Grand Chapter
Quarterly Communication: Deputy Grand Master's Address and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Masonic charities: News and Masonic Almoners
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Not everything in an apron is 'Masonic'
Masonic education: Masonic diary dates
Letters, Gardening, Book reviews

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The restaurant 'Sarah Bernhardt' is particularly splendid. Here, you can relax with a drink, and then dine to the accompaniment of a pianist in elegant surroundings.
     As well as keeping up with modern fashions, such as serving an 'amuse bouche' before the starter, you will still find dishes that are flambeed on a trolley at your table, with main courses served covered with cloches.
     The hotel is conveniently situated at the back of the Municipal House, a cultural space for Czechs, built at the beginning of the 1900s on the site of a former palace.
     Situated in what at that time was Bohemian-German Prague, the building was intended as a centre for Czech cultural and social life, and leading Czech painters and sculptors of the time shared in the decoration. The Mayor's Hall is entirely the work of Alfons Mucha, a Czech Freemason, while the flexible Smetana Hall is still used for concerts.
     For anyone who hankers after a bit of retail therapy in between the sightseeing, walking down the main street from the Municipal House towards the Old Town you will find the main shopping thoroughfare with lots of familiar names. Many of the more up-market designer name shops, however, are to be found in the little streets off it.
     Depending on your length of stay, if time is limited, having a guide is well worth the expense so as not to miss anything. We started our tour at Prague Castle, which dates back to the ninth century. However, it is not just a castle, but the seat of government, and encapsulates various imposing buildings and courtyards.
     The ceremony of the changing of the guard takes place here every hour on the hour at the entrance to the first courtyard of Prague Castle. Within the complex stands St. Vitus's Cathedral, consecrated in 1929, although it stands on the site of a chapel founded in 925, and where all the Bohemian Kings are buried.
     King Wenceslas, the main Patron Saint of the country, is buried here in his own chapel. At night the Castle area, which stands on one of the seven hills surrounding the city, is floodlit thanks to a gift from the pop group, the Rolling Stones.
     Lesser Town, the area leading from the castle to the River Vltava, which divides the city, was the only area of Prague to be flooded. Until 1770, with the introduction of numbering, many of the houses were identified by signs, so that at one house we saw a golden chalice while at another a violin.
     We crossed via the famous Charles Bridge, which is decorated with 30 statues. The atmosphere is special, with lots of local artists selling their wares, and music emanating from street musicians.
     On the further side is the Jewish Quarter or Josefov's Town, a ghetto from the early 13th century to 1780, when the Jews were liberated and the wall torn down. The buildings were subsequently destroyed and the area remodelled on Paris, making it now one of the city's most exclusive quarters. Five synagogues remain including the Pinkas, a memorial to the Second World War, with its interior walls covered with 77,297 names of Czech people deported, along with the date of their deportation.
     Upstairs is a display of pictures taken by some of the children, and with haunting singing playing while you walk round, it is an incredibly emotive place to visit. From this area we came into Old Town Square with its many cafes, a great spot to sit and people-watch or to just take in the incredible array of architecture, with not one building the same as the next.
     Choose a cafe near the Old Town Hall with its astronomical clock. On the stroke of the hour two small doors open and death, in the form of a skeleton tolling a bell, can be seen before making way for the 12 Apostles.
     One of the highlights of the stay was a visit to the Alfons Mucha Museum. Not to be missed is the film of his life, which gives an enormous amount of insight into the man. Mucha was initiated into a Masonic Lodge in 1892 and the influence of Masonic symbolism is evident throughout his work. After the formation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Mucha was instrumental in establishing the first Czech-speaking Lodge in Prague and later became Grand Master.

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