It was another relatively early morning today, and we stopped at the same small bakery as yesterday for breakfast (more koláče!). We then headed to the Strahov Library, an amazing building and collection that dates back over a thousand years.
After the library, we went to the nearby Prague Castle and bought tickets for the day. Our first stop within the castle's huge walls was St. Vitus Cathedral. Although construction on this tremendous church began in 1344, it was not fully completed until 1929. This cathedral is known for its exquisite stained glass windows and is also the final resting place of much of Czech royalty, including the famous St. "Good King" Wenceslaus.
Once we left the cathedral, we walked over to the Old Royal Palace and toured a few of its rooms. This was the site of the famous Defenestration of 1618 that lead to the Thirty Years' War. Then, we walked to St. George's Basilica, a Romaneque church that dates back to the 10th century.
It was around 11:00am by then, so we decided to tour the Lobkowicz Palace Museum which is also located within the castle walls. The Lobkowicz family has been known for centuries as an outstanding patron of the arts (encouraging the work of several painters, but more notably the music of Ludwig van Beethoven). The exhibition was fantastic and the audio guide tour (recorded by Prince Lobkowicz himself) was extremely informative. The Lobkowicz property and collection, spanning several centuries, was stripped from the family during the Nazi and Communist occupations of Czechoslovakia between 1939 and 1989. The family was finally allowed to return to Czechoslovakia in 1990 and reclaim their belongings after the end of the Communist regime. Although the collection contains many priceless works of art (such as Bruegel's Haymaking), more interestingly for me, it also contains several old instruments and original musical manuscripts. Among the treasures housed at the Lobkowicz Palace are the original scores of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, his first six string quartets, Mozart's re-orchestration of Händel's Messiah, and various other important orchestral and operatic manuscripts by several different composers.
We had an excellent lunch in the Lobkowicz Palace Café and then left the castle. We took the tram to the other side of Prague to pick up a few more Beránek beers from the Beránek Hotel before returning to the northwest side of the city to visit Letná Part. Since it's situated on top of a hill overlooking Prague and the Vltava, it has some amazing views.
From there, we took the tram back to our apartment and did some packing before turning back around and heading into Prague around 6:00 for dinner. We ate at the beer hall in the basement of the Municipal House again (see Day 2), and saw a concert in Smetana Hall at 8:00. The program was Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, Schumann's Piano Concerto, and Dvořák's Ninth Symphony "From the New World". It was a great way to spend our last night in the Czech Republic, even though the conductor (and therefore the timing in some areas) was not that great.
We got home around 11:00pm, and now we're heading to bed to rest up for our long day of traveling tomorrow! Our flight leaves Prague around 12:30pm, but I'll hopefully give one last update before the trip is over.