By pupil Amelia Banton, King’s College, Taunton
On the first Monday of half term, the Lower Sixth Scholars, accompanied by Mr Smith and Mrs Cashmore, assembled at Bristol airport and, after several sirens and one complete terminal evacuation, we departed for Prague. Arriving in the Czech Republic after nightfall, we spent the evening walking around Old Town Square in the heart of Prague – home to the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. We admired this alongside other impressive architecture, such as the Gothic Tyn Church and the Baroque style St Nicholas Church, whilst the very friendly people of Prague showered us with leaflets, attempting to entice us with an extraordinary array of evening entertainment.
The next morning we walked up to the Letna Hill Metronome, built in 1991, that stands where the world’s tallest statue of Stalin graced the skyline of Prague until 1962. We then went to Prague Castle, which at 70,000 m² is the largest castle in the world. Here we watched the changing of the guard before venturing inside St Vitus Cathedral. That afternoon we split between the technology museum and the European art collection in the Sternberg Palace, before climbing to the top of St Mikulas Mala Strana, which gave us wonderful views over the entire city. We walked back by way of Charles Bridge. For a long time, this crossing was the only way over the Vltava River. Commissioned by Charles IV in 1357, it was not named in his honour until 1880.
Wednesday began with a trip to the Škoda museum and a tour of the factory. Almost 20,000 people work on the site, which is as big as the Vatican City. We then returned to Prague for lunch before spending time either at the Veletrizhny Palas (modern art gallery) or at the National Monument. The most informative visit was the army museum, only providing that you understood the ‘interesting’ English translations. In the evening, Mrs Cashmore took a group to the Agartha jazz club, where we were entertained by some very talented musicians.
On our penultimate day, we began with a visit to the Museum of Communism before walking around the Josefov, or Jewish Quarter, so named because Emperor Josef II banned discrimination of the Jews in the 1780s. The afternoon began with many of us, including Mrs Cashmore, being given the opportunity to try Segways around Old Town Square, that included a brief glance at an Irishman’s one-man circus show! Shortly after, we visited the convent of St Agnes of Bohemia, sister to Good King Wenceslas, to admire the building and its extensive collection of religious art. Supper was a traditional Czech affair consisting of beef goulash and bread dumplings.
Early on Friday, we returned to Charles Bridge in daylight, without the crowds, before a visit to the Hall of Mirrors, the music museum and the Monastery. The afternoon provided an opportunity to wander through the cobbled streets and visit a market before an early supper and the flight home, finally returning to school at midnight.
Photographer: Toby Smith