Prague, Czech Republic – “Stepping Back In Time“
By Mark Raynes Roberts
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Lennon Wall. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The largest city in the Czech Republic, Prague is the 14th largest city in the European Union, and it is the historical capital of Bohemia. It is situated in the northwest of the country on the Vltava River, which stretches for over 270 miles, 19 miles winding through the city of Prague itself.
We visited Prague in early October and were surprised by the number of tourists who were still flocking to visit the historic city. The autumnal air and golden vistas at twilight provided spectacular views of the castle from the famous Charles Bridge. I can only imagine that the two million population of the city must increase exponentially during the summer months, so I highly recommend visiting Prague in the spring or fall.
Being a crystal artist and designer, I had always wanted to visit Prague as it has such a rich history for glass engraving, and so I was excited to view the magnificent Czech glass galleries and museums. It was made particularly interesting to have my friend, Czech glass engraving master, Jaroslava Votrubová, provide us with a special tour of her city including Frank Gehry’s contemporary masterpiece “Dancing House”.
Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with mixed fortunes during its 1,100-year existence. Founded during the Romanesque period and flourishing by the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus, also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire and, after World War I, became the capital of Czechoslovakia.
The city played major roles in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War, and in 20th-century history, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era. The Prague of today is a mix of spectacular medieval architecture, grand promenades of peeling belle époque buildings, and austere visual remnants of its uninvited Communist era. Prague is a fascinating mixture of both sophisticated gaiety and sadness, creating its own unique style.
Prague is all about stepping back in time, and leaving culturally refreshed.