I told you it would not be long before I went out traveling again! After a week of being home for test revision I packed my backpack once more and made my way to the Czech Republic to see Prague, a city whose beauty I had heard endlessly of. Friends of mine told me Prague was one of the prettiest cities they had traveled to but, in truth, I didn’t quite know what they meant by beauty. Was it the landscape? Or perhaps the architecture and town itself? In all honesty I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had barely known of the city’s existence until a friend of mine studied abroad there and others visited. However, as we exited the metro to Wenceslas Square, all of their comments came to fruition and I truly realized that my friend was right when she said Prague is a city untouched by time in all aspects. The buildings and different areas of town literally look like the set of a Disney film set back in time. The cobblestone streets and livelihood of the squares only enhanced the beauty of the surroundings.
Our first night we roamed the streets and, keeping with my lesson from Sevilla, got lost in them a little bit as we attempted to find a place to eat. The following day we learned of the old town square, new town square, Charles Bridge and the Jewish quarters on our walking tour. The tour was amazing and super interesting-even for a non-history buff like myself! We learned of people pushing people out windows, a severed arm hundreds of years old hanging in a church to this day, the astronomical clock’s designer throwing himself into the gears of the clock as well as the Rolling Stones donating lights and technicians so that Prague Castle can be illuminated at night.
We also learned about the history of Jewish culture within Prague both pre and post World War II. The stories shared on the tour had us determined to make it to the synagogue museums before we left. Throughout the 6 different sites we learned of the Jewish religion and its traditions, the involvement of the Jewish population within Prague during the 19th century and the tragic stories from the time of World War II. One of the most moving buildings had the names of all of the Jews who had perished in the concentration camps written on the walls. The font was maybe an inch tall yet the names spanned each wall from top to bottom. It was a speechless sight to not only see the thousands of names, including many of small children, but to think that these were only the victims from Prague and small surrounding cities.
Up the stairs from these walls was an exhibit of children’s artwork salvaged from the concentration camps displaying images of hope, fear, as well as what life was like before and during the camps. The story behind the artwork itself was incredible. A famous artist in the concentration camp wanted the children to have a sense of normalcy and thus taught art lessons to the children. She taught them different techniques utilizing literally any scraps of medium she could get her hands on for them. When her husband was sent to Auschwitz, she didn’t want to be separated from him and volunteered herself the following day. But, prior to her leaving,she gathered the children’s artwork placing thousands of pieces into two suitcase and hiding them beneath the floorboards. She told a few of her friends what she had done and, after the war, the pieces were resurrected. The artwork itself was breathtaking and incredible, but what the images were of was even more moving.
Now, although Prague is saturated in history, it is equally saturated in culture. For one, Czech food is incredible. From goulash to trendik it all must be tried at least once! As for beer, the Czech’s have an affection unlike any other for the traditional Pilsner laggers. I’m not much of a beer drinker and I even enjoyed it! We even went with my friend who is studying abroad in Prague to a “beer museum” where they have 30 different beers on tap with literally every flavor from blueberry to cider, light to dark or sweet to bitter. We did a five cup sampler where we would choose five different beers to sample. It was an awesome experience and something I would definitely recommend.
After my experiences, I can easily understand why everyone described Prague the way they did. It truly is beautiful from its culture rich in history, cobblestone streets filled with stories and architecture that keeps the eye drawn for hours.
Until next time, Praha love and mine!