Prague’s famous novelist, Franz Kafka, wrote: “Any one who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.”
Prague may be one of the most beautiful cities we have been in and if Kafka is correct, perhaps staying here awhile will slow the hands of time. 😁
We found art in the most interesting of places and the quantity of outdoor art, statues, colors, frescoes, sgraffito, wrought iron and amazing architecture styles are never ending. Then add in nature’s alluring Vltava river that enhances all those man-made wonders as it winds through the midst of the city. There are parks and gardens to explore and a dozen or more picturesque bridges with pedestrian lanes. We would love to see the city after a fresh snowfall – bet it is stunning.
This Czech sculptor, born in 1967, has multiple art installations in locations around Prague. His work is both unusual and controversial and we found a few of them.
There are his giant baby creations. They are cute until you see the faces; they have bar codes instead of faces, leaving you feeling somewhat unsettled. There are 3 crawling in a park and 9 more climbing the huge Žižkov television tower.
Elsewhere Sigmund Freud – Man Hanging Out, is a statue of Freud calmly holding onto a post with one hand, dangling high above Husova street in the Old Town and again you feel uncomfortable; is he about to let go?
Then we found Metamorphosis next to the Quadrio business center in Prague (Metamorphosis had once been temporarily installed in Charlotte, North Carolina) In comparison to his other works, we found this one absolutely beautiful. The mesmerizing rotating mirrored sculpture, when aligned, is of the head and face of Prague’s renowned author, Franz Kafka and possibly named after the author’s most popular and best-selling short story, “The Metamorphosis,” that he wrote 1912.
Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry collaborated with local architect Vlado Milunić in 1994 to design this very non-traditional building. Milunić’s original idea was a building made of two parts and as the design proceeded, the buildings unusual shape reminded Gehry of a pair of dancers so he nicknamed the building the Fred and Ginger (after Hollywood dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers).
The tower made of rock represents Fred and the glass tower represents Ginger. Officially named the Dancing House, it won Time Magazine’s design contest in 1997.
Sitting on the top of the building is a large twisted structure of metal nicknamed Mary. It reminded us of an over-sized stork’s nest.
Like many former communist controlled countries, Prague has removed or demolished all traces of Communist statues. The Stalin statue that once stood in this spot was reported to be the largest group statue in Europe. At the time of its unveiling in 1955, it weighed 17,000 tons! The city nicknamed it “the meat queue” because the workers lined behind Stalin reminded them of the long lines they were forced to wait in for their food and supplies.
The 75 foot tall Metronome replaced that former Stalin monstrosity. The Metronome was erected in 1991 and although it is functional, it is operated only periodically. The site however offers a scenic vista of the city and a great place to watch the sunset.
The Cross Club is a funky-cool music venue with both indoor and outdoor stages, multiple bars, a cafe and a restaurant, a theater, rehearsal studios and outdoor seating.
What caught our eye however was outside the club. There are some talented artists here creating amazing steampunk style sculptures using waste metal and wood.
Of all the bollards in Prague these blue ones, created in 1993, placed in front of Liechtenstein Palace are the most unique. They represent the 27 Czech Protestant nobles that were executed in the Old Town Square on June 21, 1621 just like the white crosses in our “Ahoj z Prague” blog post.
We spent a month earlier this year visiting the innumerable churches in both the Vatican City and in Rome and thought we had seen the best. Nevertheless we have been impressed with the stunning churches we have found in Prague. There are more than 60 churches alone in the Historical City Center and we visited only a small percentage of them.
Churches of Saint Nicholas – There are two churches named the Church of St. Nicholas in Prague. One, is a Baroque church, built between 1704-1755 and located in the Lesser Town area of the city. The second Church of St. Nicholas is in the Old Town of Prague and it was built between 1732-1737. For the past 100 years this second Church has been the main church of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church. Both are magnificent inside.
Church of Mother of God before Týn – often referred to as Church of Our Lady before Týn. We have to admit here, we could not find the entrance to this church and we walked around it two and three times on separate occasions. Regardless the stunning 300 foot Gothic twin towers are a symbol of the city.
Church of Saint Wenceslas – our Airbnb was just a block away from this imposing structure and we walked past it nearly every day. We witnessed a joyous wedding with live music going on outside on the steps one Sunday. We watched cleaning crews touching up paint spots and we saw it surrounded with clouds and blue skies but it was the hourly bells that may have been the most enjoyable.
Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary – this church in the Strahov Monastery and the ceiling is extraordinary. We learned that a Gregorian choir sings during masses and wish we could have heard that.
The Church of Our Lady Victorious and The Infant Jesus – The wooden Infant Jesus statue is a mid 16th-century version of Jesus as a child. It was made in Spain and a duchess brought it to Prague in 1556. The church was built between 1611-1613 and the Infant Jesus was donated to the church in 1628.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited the church and brought a gold crown as a gift to the Infant Jesus. In a small room in the church are dozens of elegant tiny robes that have been gifted by various countries. We also found an interesting display of intricate international nativity sets in a small room in this church.
If you know us, you know we appreciate coffee, how and where it is grown, how it is roasted and how it is brewed, so when we learned there was a coffee museum in town, we searched it out.
It is a cozy coffee museum with rooms full of coffee paraphernalia and coffee history in the Czech republic. We enjoyed it and as a bonus, there were a number of rooms filled with lovely old Czech puppets and design sets. We did learn that espresso once came pressed in the shape of a chocolate bar.
City of Prague Museum
This small museum has a permanent exhibition of the history of Prague from prehistory to 1784 with a large section devoted to the changes in Prague during the prosperous years under the rule of Charles IV and the House of Luxembourg in the 14th century.
The best exhibit is an astonishing scale model of Prague as it looked from 1826-1834. The display moves through time and it was most interesting to watch this movie.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was and still is much loved in Prague. He conducted the world premiere of his opera Don Giovanni at Prague’s Estates Theater here in 1787 and regular Mozart concerts are still held in the city.
One of our favorite movies ever, and which holds special memories for us, is the 1984 movie, Amadeus. We became parents for the first time the day after we saw this movie. Amadeus was filmed mostly in Prague, filling in for 19th-Century Vienna and the movie won 8 Oscars in 1985. So now that we have visited and fallen in love with the captial city of the Czech Republic, nicknamed The City of 100 Spires, we have another reason to love this movie. We really need to watch Amadeus again!
Ahoj (goodbye) Prague.
Na zdraví from these Prazan,
Ted and Julia