In 2012 before I started this program I took some time to see more of a region that I have been drawn to for many years. We will begin this seven part series in Prague, a city that is referred to as “Little Paris”.
I took my spring semester abroad in Prague in 2009 after deciding that I wanted to go somewhere other than Western Europe or Australia. My school offered a program through Charles University in Prague so I signed up. I fell in love in the first week I was there despite the cold January weather.
Image1: Overlooking Central Prague from the Royal Gardens
Prague escaped the devastation of both World Wars having never been a target of a bombing campaign or major confrontation. This is immediately obvious as you travel though the city and see modern design adjacent to buildings dating from the 900’s. There is incredible history on every street in downtown Prague.
In every part of the city there are details that are a rarity in the U.S. Buildings are hand carved using processes that have been in practice for over a century. Damage to historic buildings is repaired in a manner consistent with history. Art is a substantial part of everyday life.
Image 4: The metro (subway) is adorned by statues
Image 5: Even something as simple as a storm drain is ornate
When warm weather came in 2009 I began exploring the city every day. I spent almost all day outside of class walking the streets, usually not returning to my dormitory until shortly before dark. When I went back in 2012 I was afraid I might have run out of sights and experiences, but I’m not sure that will ever be the case for Prague. It is an intellectually stimulating city. It is also stimulating to my stomach which for me is a critical part of travel
Image 6: A typical $4-10 lunch
I am heading back this December to spend the Christmas holiday on the Vltava and I find it hard to wait. When I arrived in 2009 I had the same feeling I do when I arrive home after being gone for months. After spending time there I know a city can hold meaning beyond the physical forms it contains even to those that are not native. I’m sure I will be back many more times in my life.
All images courtesy Ryan Kinports.