Keep in mind as you read this that I was only a daytripper to Prague. I visited twice for some meetings and once to meet with a young couple who live in the city and who graciously offered to spend some time with me and show me around a bit. I certainly can’t say that I spent the time to become immersed in all that Prague has to offer.
I found Prague to be a beautiful city that I think is a must see if you go to the Czech Republic. The level of tourism happening there was quite an eye opener though. More about that in a bit.
Prague, home to a million and a quarter people is located in north-central Bohemia and is the capital of the Czech Republic. For more than 1100 years Prague has grown on the banks of the Vltava River. Once the home of kings, emperors, and dukes it has been an important cultural, political, and economic center in Europe throughout its existence. Prague is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Czech Republic.
Coming into the city was easy as the metro, or subway, extends far out to the edge of the city and provides rapid, convenient connection to the center. Street cars crisscross the center as well, but walking was my favorite. My hosts, Julie and Zack combined all these seamlessly to get us around to places they wanted to show me. The old town square is an area filled with beautiful buildings and interesting architecture.
I asked my hosts to estimate what percentage of the people in the main square were locals and they both (independently) estimated less than 5%. They said they rarely go there except when they are showing someone like me (an out-of-town visitor) around.
A popular feature in this area is the unique astronomical clock, one of the oldest in the world dating from the 1400’s. It is said to be the oldest one still working. Each hour, a progression of animated figures provide a clockwork show.
To keep things in balance, Julie and Zack also took me to some “normal people places.” These were neighborhoods where there were less dramatic things to see, but few other tourists to jostle through. We also saw some unusual public art. These were installations by artist David Černý. Following are images from Prague with captions, where provided, appearing above the images.
Panoramic view of Prague from the hillside in Letna Park:
Charles Bridge with castle above:
More images from Old Town Square:
The art of David Černý can be political, whimsical, and thought provoking. It contrasts with the more classical art of the city, and is often controversial. It is dotted about the city. This is my kind of art.
…. this sculpture of Sigmund Freud hanging by his fingertips high above a pedestrian way and is said to represent the thought that intellectuals generally hang by a thread in modern society.
…. The television tower that rises above Prague provides a stark, communist era contrast to the more claasic architecture on display throughout the city. Cerny has installed crawling babies on the tower, sometimes referred to as “flies on a penis.”
…. this one is quite unique … send a text message to the sculpture and the figures will pee your message in the Czech Republic-shaped pond that they are standing in … another “who would’ve thunk it” moment.
Less touristed neighborhoods:
Julie & Zack