Prague - The Mother of Cities

First Day - Arrival

I didn’t really have (or took) any days off during my first half year of the EVS, so now I have quite a few holidays over for longer city tours into the neighbouring countries.

Amongst others I decide to go for a long weekend to Prague, capital of Czech Republic, where I’ve already been a couple of years ago in the winter for a few days. My sleeping place for the first two days is a Couchsurfhing-Host, for the second part of my stay a hostel where the other volunteers from Hungary are also staying.

Journey there is via Flixbus - there is a direct connection from Budapest, the ride takes about seven hours and I’m in Prague in the early evening.

My host is on the other side of the city and I use the good weather to turn my trip there into a nice evening stroll through the Old Town of Prague.

Second Day - Defenestrations and Revolutions

In many cities there are volunteers who offer tip-based walking tours through the city. Prague has these tours, too, three different ones by the main organisation, and I spontaneously join today’s tour into the “New Town”.

The Name “New Town Tour” doesn’t really fit, in my opinion. On the one hand most of New Town is already older than 700 years, on the other hand it’s more about the recent history of Prague - especially about the time of Communism and the Nazi Occupation. There are also a few Modern Art Installations on the list, including the rotating Franz-Kafka-head next to the Quadrio Shopping Centre.

The part of the tour fascinating me the most were the stories about the Defenestrations of Prague. There are quite a lot of them by now and so the people of Prague differentiate between minor and major defenestrations - a defenestration counts as major when it results in a war.

A tour like this doesn’t take the whole day, though, so I meet up with other travellers that are currently alone in Prague and enjoy the afternoon sunshine in the Letná Park.

Third Day - The Golem and the Old Town

Early this morning the three other volunteers from Hungary have arrived in Prague, too, and we meet shortly before eleven in the morning to visit the second walking tour together - this time through the Old Town and into the Jewish Quarter.

I already walked a few times through the Old Town Center, which means the places we see aren’t new for me, but the stories behind these buildings are. There is a church, for example, where you can find an old human hand hanging next to the entrance, which used to belong to a thief trying to steal the church’s treasure; houses build in Cubism style and the oldest still active synagogue of Europe, which is also the alleged place of the deactivated Golem.

The Legend about the Golem talks about a giant clay man build to protect the Jewish community of Prague from evil and ill-meaning non-Jews. He is patrolling the streets by night, his tasks are written on a piece of paper and placed below his tongue. He got out of control one time, so they removed the paper and sealed him into the synagogue. Years later his crypt was opened again, but the place was empty - no sign of the Golem. So the Jewish say that the Golem is still going through the streets by night to protect the Jews of Prague.

After the tour we rest for a while in the Hostel, because the others were on the bus over night and didn’t sleep overly much. Just around the corner is a small Czech restaurant where we eat our dinner later, before going for a beer or two into one of the traditional underground pubs.

Fourth Day - 1000 years of Architecture

Because the other three are too tired to get up early and the weather isn’t the nicest anymore either, I go for the third tour to the Prague Castle alone.

The introduction before reaching the hill is already really interesting, because Prague Castle is not a single building but a complex conglomeration of different buildings of different eras - or, in short, 1000 years of architecture in one. The light show after dark was payed by Mick Jagger himself, who made a concert with the Rolling Stones as one of the first bands to come visit Czech after the Fall of the Communist regime and became a good friend of the Prime Minister.

The most noticeable building is St. Veits Cathedrale, a gothic cathedral which building process had been started in 1344 and finished in 1929, but the most extraordinary place is the magical staircase in the Bastion Gardens. The stairs are formed in a certain way and if you stand in the middle of the stairs, facing upwards, everything you say is thrown back to you as if you were standing in a huge auditorium.

It’s raining quite a bit by now and I meet the other volunteers back at the hostel, where we play card games before I go out again for a classical music concert in one of the churches in Old Town.

Fifth Day - Cuddling Cats

Sunday means my last day in Prague has come. I meet with a Czech friend of mine who lives in the area but didn’t have time during the last couple of days. We go to Vyšehrad together to visit the old cemetery there and enjoy the view over the city.

The weather is back to being nice again but it’s still a lot colder than on the last few days and we retreat for a hot chocolate into a cat café. That’s a special kind of café where cats are walking around to be cuddled and petted.

With good conversation time runs by and soon we have to get back to our busses, she back to her home town and I back to Budapest. So we say - far too early, in my opinion, there is still so much to see - “Na shledanou, Prague!”, Golden City of a hundred spires.

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