Prague is not only a destination where to appreciate the beauty of a city full of charm, but it is also a destination where the rich heritage of a city full of history and culture can be seen. Here we give an overview of the legacy that transformed Prague into a historic capital.
The Jewish city par excellence
Today we would talk about Israel as the epicentre of Jewish culture, but it is in Prague where a big number of stories, buildings and sacred places give testimony of Jewish life during the European Middle Ages and its importance in the development of the city.
From stunning synagogues, stories which are part of the mythology, to probably the most important Jewish cemetery in the world, in Prague there are numerous manifestations of Jewish culture.
To give just two examples, two icons of the Jewish culture have their origins in Prague: the widespread use of the Star of David with six peaks and the legend of the golem, which is reproduced not only in Jewish culture, but all around the world, since it is present in movies, books and iconography outside the religious world.
Scene of the Thirty Years’ War
Despite being a disastrous war that tragically came to reduce the population of the European continent to the half, a saying says “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” Therefore, and for being one of the vital stage in the development of this war that came to shape much of the current map of Europe, this episode should be remarked in the history of Prague, the Czech Republic and Europe.
Landmarks such as the island of Kampa or military equipment as the castle itself or the fortified city served as the setting for Germanic, Spanish, French, Swedish and other European troops to fight from 1618 until 1648 in order to define borders and a new order in the seventeenth-century Europe.
The Prague of the Velvet Revolution
It has been one of the great capitals of Europe since the Middle Ages, it has welcomed many intellectuals of all political and religious conditions and become an important economic and cultural engine but the twentieth century has especially mistreated the current capital of the Czech Republic.
Two world wars and the oppression of the Soviet Union during the Cold War led Prague to stagnation from which it did not recover until the fall of the Berlin Wall with the so-called Velvet Revolution: a revolution with a student and popular remarkable base ended the communist regime in the early 90s and whose existence was the seed that ended with the declaration of the Czech Republic and Slovakia as independent countries in 1993, finishing with Czechoslovakia and one of the last communist dictatorships.
Located in a foothill in the neighbourhood of Mala Strana, in Újezd Street exactly, we find a curious and striking memorial for the victims of this horrible communist regime, so as we mentioned when talking about the Thirty Years’ War, no one have to forget, so what happened in those tragic years can never happen again.
Kafka, Mozart and much culture
Prague is also known for being the birthplace of great artists and hosting others who knew how to absorb all the culture of the Czech capital. But between them stands the figure of the writer Franz Kafka, author of the world famous work “The Metamorphosis“, a world and a statement of how philosophy and literature of thought can join together.
The city does not forget its most famous son and has honoured him with a museum, a statue in the old town and, recently, an imposing bust that has become a new symbol of modernity and openness of the new Prague: the Prague of the XXI century.
But not only Kafka has enjoyed the charming streets of Prague. Mozart spent a few years in this city where he composed beautiful pieces that would last forever (as Don Giovanni); Milan Kundera, one of the best examples of Art Nouveau; Alfons Mucha and many icons of culture have or have had Prague as one of his muses and maximum influences.