PRAHA

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Snippets of description and commentary extracted from journal on our twenty-four stop in Prague.

Café Louvre is a sophisticated set of rooms three stories up from the sidewalk that’s considered a monument to the great philosophical and political figures of Czech history and its revolution—Kafka and Einstein met and ate and conversed here, among others. The café’s quaint placemats gracefully tell the history of this place and the tables have little stacks of note-paper and sharp pencils should inspiration strike.

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The Memorial to the Victims of Communism statue confronts you as you come off a bridge spanning an island with a nicely-groomed children’s park and beautiful views of the city and river. The sculpture depicts a man’s body disintegrating as it backs away from the viewer up the stone steps. The gradual degradation of the man’s body parts and spirit is intended to illustrate the debilitating and dehumanizing effects of communism, which finally fell in the Czech Republic in 1989.

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Museum of Natural History

The Child of Prague Church is a pilgrimage sight thanks to a little child Jesus doll bedecked in velvet and jewels that sits behind glass on the right wall of the church and has apparently achieved several miracles. Nevertheless there seems to be a hearty disrespect and disregard for the sacred among tourists (especially Asian ones) who elbow those walking contemplatively or step in front of those praying at the altar in order to snap a good photo.

This became increasingly frustrating to me as our trip progressed and seemed to hit like a slap in the face every time we walked into a church. In so many of the churches we visited, the sacred religious experience had become trivialized and those who officiate or work for the church condone it as they sell postcards in the lobby or charge for entrance past the back pew.

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Perhaps one of the most beautiful parts of Prague are its warren of winding streets, a veritable painter’s palette of watercolors—with special favoritism paid to peach and buttery yellow and sea foam green—ascending for blocks and interspersed only by the flourishing embellishments of ivory window molding and the elegant iron jut of octagonal glass lanterns.

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Charles Bridge was the first and only bridge in Prague until 1841 and very important because it connected the castle on its hill to the bustling city center, not mention Eastern and Western European trade routes. It’s made of brick and supported by round and uniform Roman arches underneath and copper statues of saints and Biblical and historical figures turned black and crusty with age jut up regularly on top like the points of a crown. It’s a platform for dozens of caricature artists and independent artisans as well as prostrate beggars, curled on all fours and proffering an up-turned baseball cap or paper cup with bowed head and averted eyes. It was striking to us that they didn’t even attempt to make eye contact like pan-handlers in the States and the number of them was overwhelming.

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Our Lady of Tyn Church rises like a fairy-tale castle out of Prague’s Old Town square, where you can literally stand in place and turn 360° and not one building would halt the freshly-applied wallpaper sheen of a fairy tale. Czech churches have crisp white-washed walls and high unadorned windows to allow lots of light to pour in on the large black and gold cabinets which line the walls. Usually they display a large portrait of a saint or the stages of the cross in the center surrounded by curves and engravings and cherubs of dark black wood, their corners and contours carefully and elegantly ribboned with gold.

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Astronomical Clock

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Wenceslaus Square 

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