The other weekend me and a few of the guys took a trip to Prague. I have never been to a city that is so relaxed and alive at the same time. Istanbul is very vibrant, but in an ‘in your face’ kind of way. There are people everywhere, vehicles everywhere, music everywhere, and it was really nice to take a break from it for a weekend in a tranquil city. Mosques are beautiful, but they all seem to look the same after a while like the churches of Rome (however, we did go to the Sokollu Mosque today and it was an amazing contrast in comparison to the plain mosques we keep seeing – the subtle use of blue tiling makes it exceptionally unique).
In Prague, we saw a few gothic churches, which I had never experience. The experiences that visitors have when visiting religious structures that we have learened about in history classes is most apparent in gothic churches. Completed in 1344, the church remains the largest church in the Czech Republic. It was magnificent being in the space – the vertical elements within it really emphasized the size and grandeur of the church, directing all of our views upwards in awe. We also ventured up into the clock tower on the side of the church, and got the chance to get a beautiful panorama of Prague. The city is so small compared to Istanbul; we could see the boundaries from the tower! I think that the ornate and exteriors of gothic churches are what makes them the most interesting churches to me. I love the flying buttresses that are utilized for stability. They make the church seem much larger on the exterior than it actually appears on the interior.
While here, we also visited the well-known Charles Bridge near the old city center that leads up the hill to the church. The most evocative thing about the bridge to me was the entrance, and how it made the bridge appear so grand. We learned that this bridge was the only connection between the old city center and the castle until the mid 18th century! It is really strange to think about how much that is relatable to Istanbul and the first bridge connecting the Asian side to the European side. Also, the bridge really reminded me of Ponte Sant’ Angelo because of all of the statues that lined the side of the bridge. From afar they looked similar to the archangels on the ponte, but the only one that we really could pick out was the Holy Crucifix.
Near the area, we found an architecture exhibition called Klub Architektû. We saw many different models in a gallergy along with many different publications of architecture. We were all overly excited to check them out; they were lit up quite nicely. On another note, outside you could see hideous television tower that looks like it could be straight out of a futuristic cartoon show interrupts the Prague skyline. It was completed in 1992 and apparently hated by many Prague citizens. We wandered the city a lot, and we used a particular gothic cathedral’s towers and this television tower to help navigate ourselves back to our hostel. We were very sad to leave on Sunday, because we knew that we had a 17 hour-long journey ahead of us, with 13 of them spent overnight in Kiev, Ukraine.
We arrived in Kiev at about 6pm on Sunday, and were stuck in the airport until 6am to get back to Istanbul before our Monday review. Instead of working on studio and sleeping for 13 hours, we decided to venture to Independence Square, ‘Maidan Nezalezhnosti.’ This was the city center of Kiev and what appeared to be some of the more decent part of the city. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty intimidating being in Kiev with all of the Ukrainians, but at the same time it was such an experience. We walked around for a long time, the city center was booming with people because of some festival during the time dedicated to soldiers – there was a large memorial thing going on in Independence Square with a lot of flowers that made up the city’s logo as well as many pictures of soldiers. (Coincidentally the 29th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster? I don’t know). Anyways, we explored the city for a few hours, and were tempted to go to an underground space but we didn’t want to waste the time on it so we didn’t – apparently it was a huge 4 story underground mall! It is too bad that we did not go. We had an amazing meal – Jordan had steak and Sushi, the rest of us had a huge burger and other appetizers. The price came to about 200 hryvnia, was barely $8! We were all so amazed!
We ended it on a good note though, and met up with our taxi driver that dropped us off there back in Independence Square to go back to the airport by 11pm. From then until morning we all worked on our studio project and slept on airport floors. It was fantastic. Overall, we had a great weekend, and prepared ourselves for this 2 week period of buckling down before final reviews.