Our European Odyssey

This blog covered our month-long trip to Eastern Europe -- specifically the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Keeping Our Excitement in Czech

Today we'll continue our theme of featuring a few of the places that we are most excited about seeing while in Europe. These are places and things that you can't experience in Missouri. They are even pretty unique in the world.

The Czech Republic has several of these places. The first is Prague Castle, which is unsurprisingly found in Prague. Guinness lists this as the world's largest ancient castle, which is pretty cool considering there aren't many ancient castles where we're from. But what really makes this castle appealing to Jake is that it was the location of the
Defenestrations of Prague. "Defenestration" is a fancy word for forcefully throwing someone or something out of a window. Prague Castle was the site of two famous defenestrations: one in 1419 and the other in 1618, both of which led to wars.

The first defenestration led to the deaths of seven city council members after they were ejected by a Hussite mob. The second defenestration is the more colorful one. At Prague Castle on May 23, 1618, an assembly of Protestants tried two Catholic governors for violating religious freedoms. The governors were found guilty and were promptly thrown, along with their scribe, out of the high castle windows. They supposedly fell 50 feet into a large pile of horse manure. Miraculously, all survived. Roman C
atholic officials claimed that they survived due to divine intervention because of the righteousness of the Catholic cause. Protestant pamphleteers said that their survival had more to do with the horse manure in which they landed. This event was one of the intiators of the Thirty Years War, a war that eventually embroiled the entire continent. So you can see why we would be excited to see this castle. Talk about making history come alive!

One of the other fascinating things to see in the Czech Republic is the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora. In 1278, Henry, the abbot of the Sedlec monastery, returned from the Holy Land with some earth from Golgotha, the hill where Jesus was believed to be crucified. This earth made the Sedlec cemetary a very popular place to be buried, and with the subsequent onset of the Bubonic Plague, space in the cemetery became nonexistant. So the monks set about creating an ossuary decorated with the skeletons of the deceased. It is estimated that more than 40,000 human skeletons are located on the premises. These skeletons are artistically arranged to form everything from chandeliers to the altar to a coat of arms. The chandelier shown here is said to contain at least one of every bone in the body. The ossuary is about 30 miles outside of Prague, so we are going to make a daytrip of it.

These places are just two of the many unique things we are planning to see. Hopefully, we will be able to write about a few more before we leave.


At 6:10 AM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous Becca said...

"Talking about history coming alive"... Jake are you planning on forcefully throwing Andrea out of a window? :)

At 8:33 AM, May 11, 2006, Anonymous ginger said...

Becca, you are hilarious. Andrea and Jake, a window expulsion would definitely make the trip more interesting - just make sure there is a large pile of horse manure at the bottom... Then again there is divine intervention.


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