photo of the week 24: the knights of malta…

Given its geographic situation, it is remarkable that Prague survived the two World Wars. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is now a municipal museum, a walkable glimpse into history.  Its well-preserved bones are an attraction to millions of visitors each year.

There’s a spectacular Gothic-style tower on the Old Town end of the Charles Bridge, the mortared lifeline that connects the old and the new over the River Vltava. On a frigid day in December ten years ago, I climbed it to see what I could see.

For the twenty-fourth photo of the week, I give you the Charles Bridge, as seen through the lens of my old Canon AE-1.

photo of the week 24: the knights of malta...
That night, I stumbled upon a little restaurant in Malá Strana, a district of the city known as “Lesser Town.”

The restaurant, Vinárna U Maltézských rytíru (At the Knights of Malta), resides in a house dated to the 14th century. As the name suggests, this is where the local Knights of Malta secretly met throughout the centuries.

The maitre d’, who spoke little English, seemed especially excited to see me, a paying customer, during off-season. The small, cozy dining room on the main floor of the restaurant was empty when I arrived.

I must have said something about the astonishing age of the place, because the maitre d’, who was about to offer me a seat, waved me down a flight of stairs into a ghoulishly dark, stone chamber lit only by candlelight.  I still question my judgement in following him.

The cellar was spectacular.  A series of stone archways separated it into two small dining rooms.

The maitre d’ said I had my pick of tables in the house. Though it was terribly creepy down there, I figured I’d never get to eat in a Medieval cellar again, so I picked a corner table, ensuring (I am embarrassed to admit now) that my back would be to a wall, and not an expanse of dark shadows.  A candle was lit for me and I ate alone, under the gaze of a morbidly severe-looking knight, whose portrait hung on a nearby wall. I swear the eyes moved; it was like a scene out of Scooby Doo.

What did I have?

Pheasant. And some beautifully fried potato dumplings, breaded and golden-brown.  For dessert, a delicious apple strudel.

I never saw another soul in the place that night, which, in retrospect, makes the experience even creepier.  If it weren’t for the fact that I still have the receipt, and that the restaurant has a website, I might think it was all a dream.

~ by ulterior epicure on December 5, 2010.

One Response to “photo of the week 24: the knights of malta…”

  1. Whoa! Talk about risky moves into the unknown! *wink*

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