Faraway Worlds

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Prague: a city from another time

Last updated 9 November 2020

Prague is a city from a fairytale. It has spires and minarets, there’s a castle up on the hill and the cathedral is a black fortress that dominates the skyline. The streets are cobblestones, like so many in Europe, and small roads twist and turn, inviting you to get lost in them.

As you wander through, there are apothecaries instead of pharmacies, alchemical symbols engraved in unlikely places, and marionettes staring out of shop windows. It’s a place where most things seem to be okay, where creativity and expression are encouraged and, mingled through it all, there is a hint of almost infinite possibility.

The buildings are simply beautiful, and what I love about them is how they reflect the architecture from so many different times. From up a hill, you can look down at the city and see its history in its buildings. Prague was founded over 1200 years ago, and I feel like I can see how it had grown in that time just by looking at it. And, on the outskirts, are the modern structures, which makes me feel like our time is represented too, and that someday people will look down on Prague and remember us.

It’s also an artists’ city. There are exhibitions everywhere, paintings for sale and artists on every second corner (very reminiscent of Italy). There are also street performers, operas, marionette operas, puppet shows, dark light theatre, ballets, contemporary dance, classical music… it’s endless. There’s something happening somewhere, all the time, and most of it is creative. There’s a sense of humour about Prague, and lots of quirks. Some of the sculptures and paintings border on the bizarre, but that’s part of its charm.

Generally speaking, it’s a fun place to be, and fun seems to be encouraged. There’s a sense of excess, but within limits. Prague is safe. On a Saturday night, the streets are full of people, often in costume, usually drinking, but there is also a strong police presence, and any chaos seems monitored. And just a head’s up – Wenceslas Square by the museum can be interesting at night… there are a number of strip clubs at that end of town.

As you’ve probably realised, I adore Prague. It’s odd and artistic, creative and free. It literally defines the word ‘bohemian’ and, having been there, I have a whole new understanding of the concept. It’s also one of those places where all the top tourist attractions are worth seeing, at least once.

Walk across Charles Bridge and look at the Baroque Statues. Stand outside the town hall and watch the astronomical clock strike the hour – it’s enchanting! Wander through the Jewish Quarter and Malá Strana and try to cross the boundaries of Prague 1. See the castle and churches (interestingly the Czech Republic is no longer religious – I think it’s one of the most atheist countries in Europe) and pick a couple of museums if you feel the need; there are so many!

For me, Prague is stunning and fascinating. Sometimes, walking down the road is like being in another time, or another world. It’s glittering and dark, with sharp edges but it’s also lovely and heartbreaking and I feel like I understand it and it understands me. Walking out of the door in the morning makes me smile.

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