The Fairy Tale City of Prague

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Prague Panorama. © Pavel Moravec/Flickr.

At first glance Prague might seem like just any modern city, but any turn in the road reveals another fairy tale castle.  The city’s history shows in its medieval churches and palaces…now converted into art museums for Gothic and Baroque masterpieces.

Czech,Prague,MusicForTheEyes

Art Nouveau–Alfons Mucha. © abaco77/Flickr

Fred visited Prague in 1973 when the Czechs were still reeling from the Soviets’ crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968-69. Then the city was grimy and depressed.  Soviet troops were everywhere with their big hats,  and secret police pushed through the night clubs demanding “documents” from patrons.

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Walking in Prague. © Sharon Lundahl

Still, the music Fred heard everywhere was all American.  Czechs chose the most anti-Soviet music they could find to play–country western and bluegrass!  A Czech told Fred that “the Soviets may occupy us, but they will never occupy our spirit.”

That spirit served them well.  Fast forward to our visit 40 years later, and the sparkling-clean city of Prague is a tourist magnet.  Prague reminded Sharon of the Paris of her first visit there about 50 years ago.   Food and lodging are not expensive, and you can linger in a sidewalk cafe for an hour without being bothered.  The feeling on the streets is happy, and the city is walkable.

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Pretty Girl in Prague. © Jakub/Flickr

We loved wandering across the 15th century Charles Bridge, with its kiosks to shop in for our store and street musicians and other busker performers offering entertainment.  Across the bridge from the Old Town, where we stayed, was the beautiful Prague Castle.

Although the streets are full of tourists, Americans are few.  It is fun to be on foot all day,  looking through the shops and quaint house of the Golden Lane,  the Mozart villa, and an Art Deco cafe where dissidents met in the 1980’s.

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Toy Museum in Prague. © Sharon Lundahl

Prague houses lots of museums, among them the Franz Kafka Museum, the Museum of Communism and the Mucha Museum of Art Nouveau works.

Today the Czechs like to be called part of Middle Europe, rather that Eastern Europe.  Perhaps this is an effort to disassociate themselves from their past of being under Soviet occupation.  Also, although most of the older Czechs speak Russian, they often refuse and speak just their few words of English.

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Buskers in Prague. © Sharon Lundahl

The Czechs are very proud, and rightfully so, that they split with the Slovak brethren peacefully.  This was the only amicable split after the fall of communism and the two countries are still good friends.  Many shops and businesses in Prague are still owned by Slovaks.

Prague was an important European city in the 19th century and is again in the 21st century!  We loved our visit there.

Prague,Czech,MusicForTheEyes

Franz Kafka Museum in Prague. © Sharon Lundahl

8 Responses to “The Fairy Tale City of Prague”

  1. Bronwyn and Chris

    We wish we had been there with you as you wandered the streets as your enthusiasm for this gem of a city mirrors ours.

    Reply
  2. Meg Peterson

    Love your description of Prague! I felt the same way when I was there, even though it was snowy and cold. We could sit outside in cafes heated with what I called warming poles…all day if desired. When you mentioned American music it made me think of Tom Stoppard (born in Czechoslovakia) whose wonderful play, Rock ‘n’ Roll, I saw on Broadway. One of its themes centers around the influence Western pop music of the 60’s through the ’80’s had in the overthrow of communism.

    I will say, however, that, even though I was warned, I had my wallet stolen on the Charles Bridge. As you say, it is beautiful and I was looking at the view and not paying attention to my backpack.

    Keep the blogs coming. They’re delightful! Meg

    Reply
  3. Ellen Saunders

    Hello Fred and Sharon, I am very close to enrolling in a Road Scholar (aka Elderhostel) trip with 3 classmates from 50 years ago….the city has been on our bucket lists for years and years although one of us has been there. Your little sketch solidified my commitment to the trip and my excitement about it. I’m headed to Cuba with a birding tour in midFeb and, upon my return, I’ll start preparing for Prague. Any books you’d recommend? I’m especially interested in history. Thanks, Ellen

    Reply
  4. Richard Hayes

    Jane & I spent a couple of days in Prague in 2012 on our way to Ukraine. The spirit had changed a lot since our only previous visit in the mid eighties when the Russians were still in charge.

    The city is well worth spending some time there.

    Reply
  5. Didar

    It is so nice, to read this. It reminded me of visit to Prague in March 1992. It is the most friendly city in Europe and Beautiful. I wished to see that city when I sea a film many years ago. The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    Reply

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