Prague Castle - Independence Day Celebration
Brewsta accepts an invitation to a prestigious annual ceremony and finds out how the other half eats
"[It is] a pleasure to stand in the window of a castle, and to see a battle and the adventures thereof below: but no pleasure is comparable to standing upon the vantage ground of truth."Every October 28th, a few thousand of the Czech Republic's leading citizens are invited to the Independence Day ceremony at Prague Castle.
Francis Bacon Sr.
On that date in 1918, Czechoslovakia became a country, emerging from the shadows of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
After a televised speech by the country's president and the awarding of medals to Czechs who have done great deeds, the great halls of the castles are opened to the guests who partake in food, drink, and schmoozing.
And guests of the invited elite. Like me.
There was a certain magic to the evening. I've lived in Prague a long time, but I am always impressed as I approach Prague Castle, especially at night.
As we walked through the courtyard, St. Vitus's cathedral glowed above.
The castle windows blazed with light and the well-dressed guests could be seen walking by or standing with a drink, engrossed in conversation.
A red carpet covered the long, imposing staircase in the entrance hall. This part of the castle is not generally open to the public, so I'll take you along on a tour.
At the top of the stairs, was another large hall, with a statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia's founder and first president.
I arrived in time to hear an all-girl saxophone band serenade the former prime minister, Jiří Paroubek, with the tune Jesus Christ Superstar.
The same group appears in the same spot every year.
In the next hallway, there was a cake in the shape of the Czech Republic and other nationally themed desserts.
Then, I entered one of the grandest rooms in the castle, the Spanish Hall.
It was overflowing with VIPs -- government ministers, ambassadors, and leading business figures.
The Spanish Hall is the room the parliament uses to select the president.
It was also famously given a modern lighting system by Václav Havel's friends, The Rolling Stones, in 1995.
The tables were spread with platters of food, mostly Czech specialties.
I was not familiar with some of the offerings, like nut-crusted, very dry meatballs on a spoon with mushrooms. There was a pastry cup filled with a paté I did not like. I had a salty mini-shrimp salad. The best thing I had was a tiny sandwich with prosciutto.
There were also platters with mini-fruit cakes and mini-tiramisus, but I wasn't much in the mood for those.
There were also more traditional Czech desserts, little cakes called koláčky.
In another room, there were chefs serving hot dishes from heating trays.
I tried the carved roast beef. It was OK, but fairly tough. Domestic beef, I'd say.
There was a little stand serving ice cream.
The beer for the event was Krušovice. I had a few of those.
They were perfectly drawn from the taps.
There was also wine available. Moravian, of course.
If you felt like something sparkling (and I did when I arrived), there was Bohemia Sekt.
After getting a good picture of the food landscape, I wandered freely down the halls of the castle.
There were many pieces of art glass created by Václav Havel's friend, Bořek Šípek.
At the end of a long, modern design corridor, there was a beautiful golden-framed doorway.
This was also part of the renovations carried out under Havel.
On the other side of the door is a small space where foreign dignitaries are sometimes greeted by the president. I didn't see the evening's host, President Václav Klaus. But I've run into him in past years.
After this, I passed through of the most beautiful castle apartments.
There were light refreshments available there, as well.
They are beautifully restored. It felt like walking through the apartments of Versailles.
One of the windows was open to let in fresh, cool air. There was a wonderful view of St. Nicholas's church and Malá Strana below.
The rooms were sparsely furnished. The chairs, tapestries, clocks all appeared to have some history behind them.
The floors had gorgeous wood inlay. There were golden-framed mirrors everywhere.
On the way out, I sampled a piece of the Czech Republic cake.
It was Black Forest, one of my favorites.
And a pretty good version.
The cherry on top of the evening was rubbing elbows with Vaclav Havel, who helped bring another form of independence back to Czechoslovakia -- the end of Communist Party rule.
After that, it was time to head off down the stairs and into the misty air of autumn.
Video on YouTube
Czech beer of the year named by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Annual competition comes ahead of the feast of St Wenceslas, patron of beer
Thousands of pubs will participate in Czech Beer Days by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Dny českého piva)
Nine-day festival to promote local beer culture is in its fourth year
Jack Daniels Presents Burgerfest names its winners by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Two new places took top honors and the BBQ Pit Boys showed how easy cooking can be
Sweet 60's ready to defend best restaurant title at Burgerfest by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Small eatery in Prague 10 draws people from across the city
Vinobraní season is upon us by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Prague.eu)
Prague has wine festivals throughout September
Foodparade coming to Troja by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Contactless payment cards are among the new developments for this year
Jack Daniel’s presents Burgerfest returns in early September by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The largest burger event in Europe will feature the BBQ Pit Boys
Prague Cake Festival slated for September by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
All manner of treats will be available for those with a sweet tooth
Win free tickets to Foodparade 2016 – food and drink festival! by Foodparade Prague 2016
Foodparade Prague Food Festival 2016 - 3. - 4. September 2016 @ Zámek Troja
Hora Haus has new menu every day by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
New restaurant in Vinohrady seeks to be unclassifiable
Petra Měchurová Hair Salon right in the historical center...
Kids Indoor Playground in Prague 5, OC Zlicin
Stag Parties & Fun Events in Prague
27 taps with excellent craft beers and ciders in the center...
Premium craft brewery in Prague 4
The House of Craft Beer in Prague
Where others end up with a lemon or cucumber, we just begin
Tasting atelier by Forbidden Taste