This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for December, 2013

Strahov Monastery Theological Hall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013


The Theological Hall was built in the late 1600s by an architect of Italian origin, which explains the Italian Baroque stucco cartouches in the ceiling. The ceiling frescoes were added in 1727. The library contains some 18,000 volumes, mainly theological works.


Painted statue of St. John the Evangelist (patron of toothaches?):



The connecting hall outside the libraries houses a Cabinet of Curiosities and illuminated manuscripts.

Strahov Evangeliary (9th century), from Trier. The cover and binding date from the 15th century. You can buy a facsimile for €14,000 (listed on Amazon for $18,000, which does not include shipping).


Albert of Sternberk’s Pontifical (1376). As a jigsaw puzzle it is priced very reasonably at $24.99.


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Strahov Monastery Philosophical Hall

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013


Strahov Monastery’s Philosophical Hall (interior constructed 1794-1797) is probably Prague’s most famous library. If you don’t book a special guided tour, you can only photograph it from the doorway, as I did. A “photo license” costs 30 crowns. You wear a sticker to show that you paid for the privilege. Then you lie on the floor, with tourists walking over you, to try to get a shot of the ceiling. 🙂 I was lucky that it wasn’t too crowded on a Sunday morning.

Detail of the ceiling fresco, painted by Viennese painter Anton Maulbertsch (1794), at the far end of the library and the upper gallery. (Other sites provide a 360-degree panorama of the library and a detailed description of the fresco.)






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Strahov Monastery

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 31, 2013


The Strahov Monastery, founded in 1149, is a magnificent Premonstatensian abbey located a short walk from the Prague castle complex. If I had done more research on this site, I would have booked a tour that allows one full access to its famous libraries. I did get a few photos from the doorway (in another posting). I visited it twice, once very quickly with Ivan, a photo guide, and another time with my husband. These photos were taken on two different days. The view above was taken from the path leading down to the castle.

Facade of the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady (Baroque reconstruction from 1742). It was open the first day but I didn’t have time to go in.


It was closed the second day, so this photo of the basilica was taken through the window of the locked door.


Gilded iron fence surrounding the basilica:


Facade of the library building.


Vineyards behind the moanstery, looking towards St. Vitus Cathedral.


St. Vitus Cathedral on the left, Vitava River on the right:


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Jerusalem of Snow, 2013

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 13, 2013


Soldiers in the snow at French Hill (above). This is the worst snow storm we can recall. I think it’s worse than 1992, although my memories of that storm are pretty hazy. I do remember not having electricity for a couple days and having to cook by candle-light, which is a lot less fun than it sounds.

Yesterday I was at work for less than an hour, barely time to finish my coffee. When we drove in, the snow started coming down in large flakes just as we entered the Mt. Scopus tunnel. It’s amazing how the climate changes according to the elevation, so you leave home in the rain and get to work in the snow.

At first it was quite pretty. I shot this video on the way in to work, around 9 a.m., with a pocket camera:

By 10, the view from my office window looked like this:


A co-worker sent out an email offering places in her car. We drove through French Hill, one of the highest points of Jerusalem, and the snow was quite heavy. Cars were struggling up the ramp from the parking garage because the slush was so slippery. We drove in first gear until we got out of Jerusalem. A lot of drivers were stranded and there were calls for anyone with a 4×4 vehicle to help get people home. Later, we got an official email at work telling us to go home, either in private cars or in the shuttle buses. My husband was taken home in a jeep. It took hours because the three passengers lived in different outlying areas and the first jeep broke down just outside Har Hotzvim.

Now it’s cold and rainy in Maale Adumim. No buses and no deliveries from Jerusalem. Fortunately, I had thought about that yesterday and did a lot of my Shabbat shopping yesterday, when I came home early.





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St. George’s Basilica, Prague Castle

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 11, 2013


St. George’s Basilica is the oldest church in the Prague castle complex. Although it was founded in 920, most of the present building was constructed in 1142 after a major fire. The 17th century facade of the basilica is early Baroque, so I expected a dark interior with twisted columns, lots of little chapels. I certainly wasn’t expecting a Romanesque interior.


The nave is often described as austere and monumental. The tomb with the rose belongs to a member of the Přemyslovci (Premyslid) family. The Přemyslovci were the first royal Czech dynasty, ruling the Czech principality and parts of Poland and Hungary until the early 1300s.




The Gothic chapel of St. Ludmila of Bohemia (first Czech martyr and the grandmother of Wenceslas) is not accessible to the public but I managed to get a shot of the entrance and grillwork from the main nave.


The crypt is 12th century, with a black statue of Brigitte. She is portrayed with a decaying girl’s body, representing human frailty and mortality. The Přemyslovci rulers were buried in this crypt, before St. Vitus cathedral was built.


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Old Royal Palace, Prague

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 11, 2013


The main building of the Old Royal Palace dates back to the 12th century. The 16th century Vladislav Hall was used for coronations, banquets, markets, and even tournaments (!). On the left side of the hall is a rider’s staircase, which enabled horses to enter the hall. The magnificent ceiling vaults form roses or stars.


View of the Diet room where the king sat under a canopy, with the archbishop at his side. Various legates occupied the benches; representatives of the royal towns had to stand by the windows. The Diet was rebuilt after a fire in 1541.


Stunning lace ceiling vaults with stars at the main junctions.


The ceiling of the Land Rolls room is painted with the coats of arms of prominent Bohemian families.



Records of Diet debates are bound and stored in these cupboards. The covers are delightful! The painted spines depict colourful flowers and fruit, an anthropomorphic sun, even a rainbow.




Scale model of the Prague castle complex, which the Guinness Book of Records says is the largest ancient castle in the world.


There are lots of old ceramic tile stoves in the palace but it must have been bitterly cold in winter.


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Happy Hanukkah!

Posted by Avital Pinnick on December 4, 2013

8th Night of Hanukkah

I haven’t had much time lately to take photos, so I’m posting photos taken in years past. Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. I was really looking forward to having sufganiyot (donuts) and latkes (even if they are cold and greasy) at work, but instead I’m waiting at home for a delivery to arrive.

Hanukkah Street Lights

Sufganiyot (Donuts)

Hanukkah 2012

Sufganiyot (Donuts)

Pirsum haNes (Publicising the Miracle)

Finished Hanukkah Lamp Paper-Cutting

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