Conventionally Bohemian

by James Conley


With a history stretching back to the Stone Age, it's impossible not to feel a constant sense of awe about Prague. The city thrived and its architecture flourished through the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. It was the capital of the kingdom of Bohemia as well as the seat of the Holy Roman empire. It played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant reformation movements. It was bombed during World War II, and went from communism to capitalism. Through it all, Prague has not only kept thriving, but it has always been able to find the humor in its own existence.

Kafka is from Prague, and it shows. Segways abound. Prague has it's own version of the Eiffel Tower. It's home to the Dancing House. There are several prominent sculptures by David Černý: one is two men urinating into a pond shaped like the Czech Republic; another is King Wenceslas (later Saint, and indeed Patron Saint of the Czech state), riding a dead horse. It has one of the oldest astronomical clocks in the world, which also has some cuckoo elements.  

Prague also has some of the most impressive architecture to be found. From the ancient to the stately, from elegant to modern, it's a visual feast. The city embodies extremes, and a walkabout in Prague is a journey of simultaneously experiencing the ridiculous and the sublime.