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Danube River Cruise: A Seven Part Journey with Dr. Katerina Prusova
The Danube is one of the most important and impressive rivers in European history–coursing through four capitals and ten different countries. Join an art historian on this virtual cruise as we discover picture-perfect towns which have survived from the Middle Ages and bustling cultural capitals such as Prague and Budapest. Our journey leads us through Vienna and Budapest, elegant capitals of the former "Danube Monarchy."
During our seven-part journey, we will explore UNESCO world heritage sites situated at a reachable distance from the river, such as Nuremberg and Regensburg. Our itinerary follows the footsteps of Mozart and his contemporaries as we venture through Salzburg and the surrounding hills–saving time for sites where the Sound of Music was filmed. We will marvel at the baroque architecture in Passau–not to mention the stunning libraries, ancient monasteries, and lush vineyards.
Led by an art historian PhDr. Katerina Prusova, Ph.D., our cruise will introduce us to all of the highlights travelers experience on a real-time Danube River cruise–from the comfort of home! Designed to inspire curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an ardent desire to experience each of the charming medieval towns and bustling modern cities which tell the stories of this remarkable region of the world.
Lecture 1– Charming Medieval Towns of Regensburg, Rothenburg & Ulm We will start off our cruise with an overview of the Danube River. The river is navigable on larger boats from Regensburg, a Roman castrum, with a preserved medieval atmosphere, a unique 12th century Romanesque stone bridge, and an impressive 13th-century gothic cathedral untouched by WWII bombing. We will explore one of the most romantic fairy-tale medieval towns, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and we will visit Ulm, a medieval town with the tallest gothic church in the world and the birthplace of Albert Einstein.
Lecture 2 – Nuremberg, Bamberg & Würzburg UNESCO world heritage towns Nuremberg, Bamberg, and Würzburg lie on the river Main and the Main-Danube canal. Bamberg with a 1000 years old imperial cathedral and an enigmatic 13th century Horseman is arguably one of Germany’s most beautiful towns. Nüremberg, the birthplace of Albrecht Dürer, was once an imperial capital and a treasury of crown jewels. During the dramatic events of the 20th century, it became famous for its art bunkers and the unprecedented Nazi trials. We will marvel at the bishopric residency at Würzburg with famous Tiepolo’s frescos, one of Germany’s largest and most ostentatious Baroque palaces.
Lecture 3 – Prague With nearly five hundred spires, over thirty hills, and a meandering river, Prague has always attracted its travelers with a sense of adventure. André Breton described Prague as the "capital of magic". According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle, which dominates the capital, is the largest ancient castle complex in the world. The gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus in its core was designed in the 14th century when Prague became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and one of the most prominent cities of medieval Europe. The Emperor Rudolph II. of Habsburg surrounded himself with alchymists and he bred exotic animals in the Gardens of the Prague Castle around 1600. An important university center since the 1300s, Prague is still a vibrant and wealthy city with unique modernist art and architecture.
Lecture 4 – Passau, Salzburg, and Linz: Experiencing Baroque Architecture With its Italianate streets, Passau, the wealthy center on the gold and salt route and a confluence of three rivers, enchanted Napoleon who praised its beauty. In the proximity of Passau is situated Schärding, a charming Baroque town, and just a little further lies Cesky Krumlov, an iconic gem of the Renaissance era that could readily play host to a fairytale story. We will follow in the footsteps of Mozart to Salzburg, the most picturesque alpine city in Austria that most people associate with The Sound of Music. On the UNESCO list for its "exceptional value for mankind, “ the city has always been in close contact with Italy. Many Italian, as well as imperial architects, were attracted by the court of prince-archbishops of Salzburg. The historical town of Linz houses Johannes Kepler university and it is also known as the birthplace of the contemporary music composer Parov Stelar. In the proximity of Linz, a place infamously linked with Hitler’s father is situated a concentration camp Mauthausen.
Lecture 5 – Melk, Krems, and the Wachau Valley: Stunning Baroque Libraries, Medieval Fortresses, and Lush Vineyards Our cruise gets us to the Wachau Valley, one of Europe’s loveliest river landscapes and a fertile land producing wines of exceptional quality. Melk, a benedictine abbey in the heart of Wachau Valley towering on a cliff over the Danube river, houses one of the most stunning baroque libraries of Europe. Krems an der Donau is the eastern gateway to the valley and one of the oldest cities in the land. The vineyards of forests of Wachau are dominated by almost 1000 years old Göttweig Abbey that is still operating and contains a marvelous Baroque library and an impressive staircase. Our day will be concluded at the charming medieval castle of Durnstein in the bends of the winding Wachau valley.
Lecture 6 – Elegant Vienna and an Excursion to Brno In the rhythm of Strauss’s waltz, we flow to Vienna where we can admire the famous Lipizzaner stallions, elegant horses bred for the needs of the imperial court at Hofburg. Just outside the center of Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace, an imperial summer residence designed to match the sprawling Chateau Versailles. The Museum of Fine Arts houses one of Europe’s most splendid art collections of Old Masters. The Belvedere, two Baroque chateaux in a vast French garden, house the world’s largest collection of Art Nouveau paintings by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Vienna is also a birthplace of modern architecture, with such personalities as Adolf Loos or Josip Plecnik. From the sophisticated Austrian capital, we’ll make an excursion to Brno, a "Moravian Manchester“ – famous for exceptional functionalist architecture, including the unparalleled Villa Tugendhat.
Lecture 7 – Budapest, Bratislava, and Esztergom The Danube river divides the Hungarian capital in Buda and Pest that were united only in the 19th century to form a single city, connected by spectacular bridges. At the crossroads of East and West, the royal court of Buda was the first in Europe to adopt the Renaissance style outside of Italy. With over thirty thermal sources located at the hilly Buda, the capital became famous for its healing spas. The elegant cafés of the Art Nouveau style in Pest are an excellent place for relaxation with the music of Franz Liszt. The Archbishop seat in Esztergom has been founded by St. Stephen, the first Hungarian king. Esztergom, one of the oldest towns in Hungary, was the country’s first capital. Since the Turkish conquest in the 16th century, the Hungarian royal court, as well as the Archbishop's seat, moved temporarily to Bratislava.
PhDr. Katerina Prusova, Ph.D. is an Art Historian based in Prague. Katerina has an extensive teaching background, lecturing on Art History and Jewish History and Culture for the most prestigious universities in Prague since 2009. She has also worked as an expert docent at the Collection of Old Masters at the National Gallery and the Gallery of the City of Prague. In addition to this, she is a researcher in art stolen during WWII and a professional tour guide and guide trainer.
How does it work? This is a seven-part course held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.
Is there a reading list in advance? Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation. These will be provided at the course's conclusion.
How long are the lectures? Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time included for Q&A.
How much is the course? The course is $245 USD for seven presentations.
Is a recording available? Yes. All registered participants will be sent a recording within 24 hours of each session's conclusion. The recordings are available to re-watch for seven days thereafter.