Just Back From

Just Back From Prague

Prague

has quite a reputation to live up to. A nickname like “The Golden City” isn’t handed out with regularity, and it sets the bar high for a visitor’s expectations. This was not my first trip to Bohemia’s capital—like many, I made the pilgrimage in college to fawn over Kafka’s birthplace and Mucha’s prints—but I did see the city in a new light. “Golden” has a roped-off connotation; a sense that preciousness is kept behind closed doors, so I don’t think it’s the right description here. Rather, the color seen over and over is that of honey. And like honey, an experience in this city is warm and easy-going, but also rich and very special.

It’s not a coincidence that Prague looks like it could be part of Disney’s Epcot Center; in many ways it is the ideal European city. Pedestrian friendly? Check. Beautiful castle that welcomes visitors? Check. Home to famous writers, artists, musicians past and present? Check, check, check. The governing powers know that preserving their city’s many postcard-worthy sights is the key to maintaining a regular flow of visitors. This, in addition to its UNESCO-protected status and the regularity with which the city is used as a set for big budget film productions, helps maintain its medieval, Baroque and Gothic look. A walking tour of the city unfolds like Architecture 101, highlighting different styles with archaeological slices from the Middle Ages through modern times.

In such a small city with distinct natural and architectural boundaries, it is amazing how often new shops find their way in. There seems to be a steady stream of young Czech designers showcasing their creativity in storefronts spotted around town. Ones not to miss include Qubus with funky denim and sneakers and Leica Gallery, a space dedicated to displaying haunting black and white photographs and offering a chic café.

If there were ever a city in which timing matters, it would be Prague. The way light falls on buildings and gardens makes already haunting scenes take on a new quality when seen at particular times of day. Tourists tend to not be the get-up-and-go type in this city (maybe because of the emphasis of absinthe and beer drinking late into the night?), allowing early risers to have meaningful experiences alone with towering monuments. The dramatic Charles Bridge takes on new eeriness at 7am when the fog is rolling away and the sun rises above the 14th-century bridge tower. The Old Town reverts back to its medieval purpose when no one but bakery-delivery boys and government clerks are rushing through on their way to work. The Jewish Cemetery empties out by 5:30pm on summer nights when light casts dappled shadows across the 12,000 headstones.

Franz Kafka is revered to an almost god-like status in Prague and there is a similarity between his work and his home city. Kafka died having famously left behind many unfinished works, giving readers an insight into a moment in time—that of the writer’s mind during creation. Prague is so historically important and beautiful because it was spared World War II bombings that destroyed neighboring cities. This conserved architecture gives visitors a peek at a medieval European capital. As with Kafka’s saved stories and Prague’s historic buildings, we are left with gratitude for timing—and for preservation.

Contact Indagare to book a trip to Prague, including your hotel, restaurants, guides and behind-the-scenes access arranged by our expert team.

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