June 2016

One statues is not what it seems, according to a popular legend.

Most old churches have some stone decorations on the roof, and the overwhelming majority are just fanciful sculptures of angels and saints. There is an exception near Národní třída, in a church that’s fairly hidden on a side street.

The Church of St. Martin in the Wall (kostel svatého Martina ve zdi), at Martinská 8 in Prague’s Old Town, has an odd sculpture of a stone boy using two fingers to pull his lips and make a taunting face. The church is otherwise fairly unadorned both inside and out, save for the boy and on another eave of the roof an owl.

st martins owl

A stone owl is also on the church roof.

The boy, however, according to a widespread legend, is not a sculpture. It is a real naughty boy who was turned to stone.

The Four of Pentacles in The Tarot of Prague features details from three Prague buildings from different eras, but that speak to us across time.

The House at St. Luke (U sv. Lukáše) on Loretánské náměstí was built around 1730 as a Baroque townhouse, with a lot of attention paid to symmetry.

St. Luke is seen above the entry showing a painting of the Madonna and Child to his subjects.

While best-known as an author of a Gospel and patron of physicians, students and butchers, Luke is also associated with artists and by some accounts was a painter of icons. He is thought to have painted the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, now in Poland, and a few others that survive to this day. In the medieval era, painters were sometimes in a Guild of St. Luke.

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A house sign above the door shows St. Luke and an icon of the Madonna.

A beautiful connection between Charles Bridge and the tomb of St. Wenceslas.

There was little difference between science and mysticism back in the time of Emperor Charles IV. This extended to architecture and urban planning as well, with building projects being started on fortuitous dates and sometimes being placed due to astrological alignments.

Charles IV was active in building up Prague, and two of his most lasting accomplishments are Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. Charles Bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge.

When the Stone Bridge was built in 1357, its position was moved slightly from the 12th century Judith bridge, which had been badly damaged by a flood.

Royal astrologers were involved in building the new bridge, and according to a theory put forward in 2007 chose the time for laying the cornerstone:  9 July 1357 at 5:31 in the morning. This creates a numerical palindrome. 1357 9:7 531. all of the odd single-digit numbers lined up from lowest to highest to lowest. It is also the moment of a favorable position of Saturn in the sky.