Prague’s magnificent destiny was prophesied even before its founding!
Prague, so close to the stars!
Having lived in Prague for nearly 4 years now, I must say that this city is an amazing place to be! On your way to work, when dropping of the kids at school or hopping on the tram, you pass by areas, buildings, monuments and places that are truly breath-taking and have amazing stories to tell you!
As I became immersed in the city’s atmosphere, I realised that my historical knowledge of the various epochs, of the kings and queens has quite a few blanks. However, by taking a moment and capturing the energy of these powerful historical sites you will get a chance to do some research, freshen up your memory and assign to each their place in history.
Let us start a long time ago, in the deep forest around the Vltava River, where the first inhabitants were to build a castle and thus establish a new town. “I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.” According to legend, this prophecy for Prague was made by the mythical Princess Libuše even before the city was founded.
This inexplicable correlation between the city, stars, astronomy and astrological magic is characteristic of and still alive in Prague to this day. In addition, it may just be true that some lucky star managed to ensure that Prague escaped all the major wars or disasters of history allowing it to retain its unique architectural styles for an entire millennium along the winding shores of Vltava River!
Whoever wants to get to know Prague has to come for a visit! There is something about being here: you will get to feel it when you walk through the streets, the city of eccentrics and visionaries at the restless heart of Central Europe, as the German writer Oskar Wiener put it.
Let us do a historical speed journey and shortlist a couple of my favourite places as I do not want to challenge your historical expertise and, of course, do not want to get you to push the Blog’s exit button!
Prague, a place for the kings of charlatans and scientists that experienced its perhaps greatest period of prosperity during the reign of Rudolf II, one of history’s most noble eccentrics who lived in the middle of the 16th century. He turned Prague into the capital of his empire and amassed treasures of enormous value. When visiting the Prague castle, I would recommend you stop by the castle gallery. The castle treasury is full of gadgets and curiosities, but it also includes works by Veronese, Dürer and Hans von Aachen that are worth seeing.
When you get to my second and usually overcrowded spot, you are thrown back a couple of centuries: the Astronomical Clock, which is easy to find in the Old Town. Just follow the stream of visitors. The clock is also called ‘Orloj’ after its creator ‘Jan Ondřejův, who was also known as Šindel. It is perhaps the best-preserved medieval astronomical clock in the world and was installed on the tower of the Old Town Hall in 1410. The medieval heart of the clock is made of gears with 365, 366 and 379 cogs, all of which make sure the hands showing the positions of the sun, moon and zodiac constellations continue to move!
You may be asking yourself what the ‘zodiac’ is for? Well, it defines the path of the sun across our sky over the year and has a special place in astronomy.
My third must-see is the bridge or, better said, ‘the Bridge’!
This takes us well into the middle of the 14th century. The best way to enjoy ‘the Bridge’ is, to get up early and set out for the Charles Bridge at dawn, because then chances are good that you will have the bridge to yourself. It is indeed one of the world’s most beautiful medieval bridges: you will be sure to agree as soon as you take your first step on the cobblestones of the 516m long and 650-year-old treasure. The open air Baroque gallery with its 30 statues that accompany you over the bridge are truly inspiring. And don’t forget to take some luck away with you: look out for St. John Nepomuk’s statue and stroke the bronze relief work at the base. Another legend says that eggs, wine and milk were added to the mortar when the bridge was built to make sure it remains perfect and stable over many centuries!
The best way to explore the city is to stay with us at Falkensteiner Hotel Maria Prag. The hotel’s superb and unique location allows you to visit all the major attractions and my top three must-sees while in Prague. All of them are in easy reach and there’s plenty more to see, too. Just plan a short break in the lovely and amazing City of Prague.
Thank you for following me on my walk through history, and why Prague is so close to the stars!