It’s been WAY too long since I’ve updated my Prague vacation but that’s what happens when you go away for the holidays and come back with new seamless photojournalism assignments. For all of you that don’t run a blog it’s not as easy as it looks and requires time and effort to post on the regular, hence for people like me that have another corporate day job I try to post as much as possible but sometimes that can weeks or months apart. I am finally blogging on my last long overdue post on my vacation at Prague in Czech Republic last year autumn. I usually start writing a post on the flight home from wherever I’ve been to, with the events fresh in my mind. I never finish it though, and once I get to wherever I’m going it gets put on the back burner for a few days while I get settled in. To me the best thing about a personal blog is that I’m able to edit my thoughts and make sure they’re conveyed the way I want them to be before I hit “publish”. Even though it takes me a bit longer nowadays to post an update I think it’s probably best that I don’t post something within the first few days after a vacation. Often my immediate post thoughts and emotions are much different than they are a week later, and giving myself some time lets me reflect on the trip with a little better perspective. So I’m not promising any faster post-vacation posts, I’ll just try not to take quite as long in the future.
When i was planning my trip to Prague last year, I knew that a bouquet of architecture and design would be presented to me upon my arrival. Of course, because Prague has so much age and history, there would be Romanesque, Czech Baroque, Gothic, Neo-Classical and all that jazz. For example, there's a beautifully preserved convent from the 11th century that's a stunning example of early Gothic architecture. What I didn't realize, however, was due to a renaissance early in the 20th century, Prague had an explosion of new construction. Most of those buildings remain pristinely beautiful to this day. In fact, I must say without hesitation, Prague has the finest examples of early-20th-century architecture i've seen. On top of all that, it's one of the most navigable cities I've ever visited. The trolleys are efficient and fun, and most excursions can be ventured to by foot.
Nowhere else will you find such a varied mix of architectural styles in such a small area as in Prague. The glorious city of Prague showcases a myriad of architectural styles, coexisting side by side in the compact capital, just waiting to be explored and studied. The city is truly a pleasure for all, historians, tourists, and especially students of architecture; Prague is literally a textbook of styles throughout the centuries. Most of these architectural gems have been meticulously renovated and restored, with the most painstaking level of attention and love. These buildings, after all, are a visual history of Prague; a history that at once deserves undivided attention and respect, and these magnificent palaces, castles, and buildings will impress and imprint their legacy on any worthy observer.
In its streets you can read the city’s history like a book which blends many different levels of narrative. The oldest stories are woven into the heavy stone walls of Romanesque churches and rise to the sky with the slender pinnacles of Gothic churches, while others tell of the inhabitants of Renaissance town houses long ago or of the spiritual meaning which over time has been restored to dynamically curving Baroque facades.
Prague wears its history on its sleeve. Spared large-scale destruction during World War II, the city's medieval core remains largely intact. For history buffs, a walk down nearly any street in the Old Town is a real-life power-point presentation on 8 centuries of history.
The diverse mosaic of Prague’s historical centre is complemented by equally valuable examples of modern architecture, among which are buildings in a style you won’t encounter in any other country in the world.
Romanesque architecture dates from the turn of the first millennium and is the style of the oldest buildings still standing in Prague. Romanesque exteriors are often circular (a rotunda), and the interiors are starker and simpler than Gothic. Prague's finest Romanesque building is St. George's Basilica at the Prague Castle complex. Look past the building's misleading 17th-century facade to find a starkly beautiful stone interior with a lovely vaulted ceiling.
Ask any Praguer what his or her favorite architectural style is and chances are they will say Gothic. It's no wonder. Gothic's signature soaring towers, spires and buttresses are deeply connected to Prague's rise as one of Europe's great cities and its brief but impressive period. In Prague's heyday the best architects of the time came here to build a capital worthy of the empire.
Great Gothic buildings read like a greatest hits collection of the city's architecture. In addition to St. Vitus and the Old Royal Palace, there's the Týn Church, the Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock, and even the foundations of Charles Bridge itself (but not the statues - they came later).
Bohemia also participated in the great European renaissance of the 16th century, with its emphasis on classical and mythical figures, and above all harmony and symmetry in architectural design. Renaissance came to Prague via the Habsburgs and the nobility and their love of Italian style. Renaissance buildings are easy to spot, just look for the trademark sgraffito -- geometric or figurative designs etched into a building's stucco exterior.
Baroque architecture is inevitably to efforts to reindoctrinate the Czechs with over-the-top displays of power and wealth. You can forget the architectural adage "less is more"; with baroque more is definitely more. Signature elements include big cupolas, marble columns, ornately painted frescoes, and all manner of marble and gold.
The most important baroque buildings in Prague are doubtless the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Mala Strana and the bright pink Goltz-Kinsky Palace on Old Town Square, as well as many of the palaces in Mala Strana. The baroque period was an intensively active one; many church interiors in Prague (regardless of the exterior style) will have lavish baroque interiors.
A trip along Prague’s tram system offers travelers great opportunities to lose themselves in a collage of architectural splendor. Everyone will find somewhere appealing to focus their eyes in Prague.
While some cities are renowned for one particular architectural style, the beauty of Prague lies in its incredible mingling of styles and eras.Marked by the marriage of old and new, a position enhanced over the past decade by the ongoing influx of ideas and innovations brought on by the fall of Communism, Prague is a living archive of architectural styles and artistic inspirations.
Prague, Czech Republic is another destination I had heard about, but never expected to visit in 2013. My European adventure through eastern Europe landed me in Prague, one of the most beautiful (and one of my favourite) cities I visited on my trip. It wasn’t just the abundance of gothic style buildings, castles, Czech beer, or Czech puppets and marionettes that made me fall in love with Prague. It’s more than that. The vibrant colours, the swans floating below Charles Bridge, the smiles of passing locals and visitors, and the laid back culture of the city are enough reasons to love Prague.
A freelance Singapore-based travel photographer / photojournalist. I seek the extraordinary, but finds beauty in the everyday. Life is interesting, capture it.
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