Prague Solange Hondo gives us the insight to Prague. From its architecturally renowned arcades, bridges, theaters and other historically important museums and churches. Here’s an excerpt from our September/October Issue:
Framed by the hills in the Czech basin, Prague reveals its treasures like an open book on the banks of the Vltava river. Long ago in Bohemia, says the legend, a princess dreamed of a large city ‘whose fame would touch the stars’ and which would rise by the river, on the spot where a man was hewing the threshold of his home (‘prah’).
So a town named Praha (or Prague) was born. On its way north to join the Elbe, the Vltava flows through the city in a majestic loop, wild and impatient at times, but as gentle as a new-born lamb when blue skies return after a storm. Spanned by elegant bridges, sprinkled with green islands alongside the canals, it gives the Czech capital a touch of Venetian charm. Swans glide along the banks, unperturbed by the gleaming tourist boats, the traditional steamers, the pedalos, the flapping of paddles and oars or the odd fisherman dozing under a tree. Water tumbles over the weir, sand glistens in a tiny creek and on the canal, a lock opens the gates to let a boat through. Day or night, the river shimmers with reflections from lofty spires and domes to Gothic towers, stylish Renaissance façades, Baroque flourishes, Art Nouveau or modernist fantasies, turning all shades of gold in the setting sun. This is Prague at its most romantic, a time to stroll along the quay, dine al fresco at the water’s edge or sip cocktails on the top deck of a boat before the party gets under way. Relaxed or bustling, the Vltava has inspired writers and artists for centuries, including Czech composer Smetana who dedicated a Symphonic Poem to its journey across the land. In German, it is known as the Moldau.
The Old Town is best explored on foot but there’s always a chance to take a break and enjoy some international cuisine or tempting local bites. Favourites include Prague ham and potato pancake, dumplings or the hearty goulash stew, followed by generous desserts doused in butter or whipped cream. Eating al fresco on a summer evening is delightful as garlands of lights shed a magic glow along the lanes and some of the city’s finest buildings.