Prague is a cultural diamond that had been shuttered away from the western world following the end of World War Two. In my view, Prague rivals the top European cities and provides a unique perspective of the world with its incredible views, history, and people. The immense castle complex overlooking the city that hosts the government of Czechia and I genuinely start to wonder why this isn’t the most popular tourist destination in the world.
My favorite experience in my time in Prague was at the Louvre; A quaint cafe centralized in the city that aims to give visitors ample time to rest, relax and stay awhile. With the short time we had in Prague, this was one of the few times I personally felt obligated to stop and smell the roses. Time melted by as we enjoyed 5 o’clock English Teatime, followed by an incredible Gnocci and salmon dinner. The Cafe had an area with pool tables, antique table games, among other things, but the atmosphere in the cafe made was so cozy and enjoyable, I had a blast doing nothing but taking in the whole experience. It’s impossible to convey why one of the most unforgettable experiences in a beautiful and vast city such as Prague, was to sit in an old cafe and do nothing of note. Oh, also the Louvre Cafe was frequented by Albert Einstein and Franz Kafka and in my time there I think I picked up on the appeal.
But enough about my uninteresting dinner, Prague is a wonderful city. The castle complex is well, complex. It has architectural styles incorporated in the buildings from across centuries, with a beautiful gothic cathedral (second Picture), a Baroque styled Covent, and a renaissance styled palace. Beyond the incredible aesthetics of the massive castle complex, the entire city is jam-packed with beauty and history. A walk back across the Charles bridge and you pass by gorgeous embassies on every street corner, an opera house where Mozart and Beethoven performed, Rennaissance churches, and also some incredible smelling pastries. Walking away from the city center and you’re stumbling into tight-knit communities. My group and I accidentally walked into a Romanian Orthodox church celebrating their heritage and we joined in on some strange dance. They were beyond happy to have us as temporary guests and thanked us for joining in. The entire city is beyond pleasant.
Having recently finished a class on Modern Architecture, I was on the lookout for examples of the modern architectural styles on display while I was abroad. I think I may have come across a good example of the theories of Adolf Loos (one of the most polarizing architects we learned about). Loos advocated eliminating exterior decoration, due to the unnecessary added cost, obsolescence of need in a literate society, and the degradation of quality. In its place, he advocated putting stronger and higher materials on display, and have the only remnants of decoration be natural elements such as flower boxes and vines. I did some digging on the building I found, and It is the home to the Czech radio station that existed throughout the 1900s. It was damaged by a Nazi rocket barrage and served as one of the anchoring points in the famous Prague Spring revolt against the Soviets. Apparently, the building was defended and the broadcasts continued until they were overwhelmed by Soviet forces. Today it still hosts the radio station and it is a protected landmark. Not bad for a business student with one Modern Architecture class under his belt.
Finally, Czesky Krumlov — First Picture
We had the incredible opportunity to spend a day in the small hamlet of Czesky Krumlov, an extremely old castle and river town that was almost perfectly preserved and forgotten for almost the entire 20th century. When communism finally collapsed, the historical community began to recognize the importance of this pristinely preserved town. CK is beautiful and authentic, with many of the town’s original inhabitants having opened up a variety of odd shops. My favorite, of course, was the former town mayor’s Puppets and wine store in the center of town. Aside from the spectacular views, the castle had been a locked time capsule of Rennaissance nobility. Everything inside was original and the castle even boasted a theatre is the only surviving Renaissance theatre in the world, complete with original set-pieces and costumes. According to our guide, the post-renaissance inhabitants hated plays and the theatre was shuttered. The town remains as it was in the 1800s due in large part to being a contention object of the World Wars. It was a 90% German populated town that was forfeited to Czeckoslavakia after WW1. In WW2 Hitler used it as a de-jure claim that the Sudetenland belonged to Germany and the town was seized in the appeasement that led to WW2. Following the war, the entire German population of the town was shipped back to core Germany, and the only remaining inhabitants were largely squatters and Romanian Gypsies until the Communist government began to force relocate Czechs into the town, which allowed for its complete revival after the fall of Communism. While we were there we had an absolutely incredible dinner, in a tavern that cooked all of the food on a stone slab overtop a roaring fire. After we ordered our food, our waiter went and grabbed the meat and potatoes and other various foods and he personally began cooking them over the fire. The room was enveloped by the delicious smell of the food, and the basement tavern parked in a fog-like smoke. Possibly the best dining experiences of my entire life, and my jacket still smells a bit of the wood-fire grill. OH and due to the favorable exchange rates, the entire meal was just under $20.
Absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait to go back to the Czech Republic in the future. I hope I didn’t ramble too much, I can’t really get over how incredible my experience in the Czech Republic was.
Thanks for reading,