Wings over Prague: A Kafkaesque Exploration of the City of a Hundred Spires

Prague - The City of a Hundred Spires | The Enterprise World

Imagine a long queue of men with the same face, height, and every other trait. They looked like they were from the same factory with their matching black coats and trilby hats. Each man with a perfectly square briefcase took one step at a time at the same rhythm. Like some products on a manufacturing belt, they slowly moved toward the rim of nothingness.

No one asked “Why?” as the weight of this question is unbearable to the best of us. However, one man refuses to fall off the edge of this bureaucracy. Upon awakening, his consciousness triggered a pair of wings to bloom on his back, carrying him toward the light of liberation.

These complexities of human life intertwined with the mediocrity and uncertainty in my stories are nowadays called “Kafkaesque.” This beautiful blend has something to do with where I was born and spent most of my mediocre life — “The City of a Hundred Spires.”

In Central Europe lies a city with a blend of history, culture, and mystique—Prague, mirroring the soul of my literary creations. A place that will bloom wings on your back and make you fly far away from the same old queue, the birthplace of my fictional world. I am Franz Kafka, and this article is a tour of the magnificent city of Prague.

History of the City of a Hundred Spires

“History” — one does not have to die but change in some sort to become a part of it, like the city of Prague. However, one cannot become history while still alive, like me. Focusing on Prague, its beauty is a fruit from a gigantic tree. The seed of which was planted on the grounds of wars and revolutions of all sorts.

Prague - The City of a Hundred Spires | The Enterprise World

Prague is the capital and the largest city of the Czech Republic. Located on the longest river, the Vltava, it is home to about 1.3 million people. As I stroll through Old Town Square, I am immersed in the history echoing through the centuries-old buildings. Founded during the Romanesque era, the city of a hundred spires later flourished during the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque eras.

This city has been a part of major world events like the First World War, resulting in the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia due to its thriving industrial sector. Followed by the positive wave of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when Czechoslovakia experienced significant benefits. The year 1993 witnessed the Velvet Divorce, leading to the establishment of the Czech Republic, proudly declaring Prague as its new capital. Since then, Prague has emerged as the cultural center in Europe, showcasing a distinct influence from the forces of globalization.

The Economy:

To understand a city, one must first know its people and the way they live their lives. Here is an accumulation of the economy of the city of a hundred Spires. 

Prague - The City of a Hundred Spires | The Enterprise World

Best Things to Witness in the City of a Hundred Spires: 

1. Charles Bridge

Whenever I was free from my 9 to 5 prison, I loved strolling through the Hradčany neighborhood. Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most famous landmarks and a popular attraction for visitors. Therefore, it makes sense that there is a daytime frenzy unlike any other. However, during the main season, one is hustled through the bridge rather than being able to see much of it in the afternoon.

2. Prague Castle

Prague Castle is on a peak of around 70 meters high and stands proudly over the Vltava River. Upon reaching the summit, one can find the world’s largest enclosed castle grounds, with other attractions to explore.

  • St. Vitus Cathedral: It is a magnificent Gothic structure and the most important church in the Czech Republic, serving as a focal point of the city of a hundred spires. A highlight is the view from the clock tower of St. Vitus Cathedral.
  • Golden Lane: House number 22 on this charming alley was previously home to Franz Kafka. The 16th century gave rise to the unique appearance of the Golden Lane with its modest home.
  • Old Royal Palace: If you lean towards history, you might want to visit the Old Royal Palace. The Old Royal Palace was the scene of the Prague defenestration. The heart of the palace is the 60-metre-long Vladislav.
  • St. George’s Basilica: One of the oldest structures in Prague Castle, this basilica dates back to the tenth century.

You have to go through security before entering the grounds of Prague Castle. Certain places (such as the St. Vitus Cathedral entry or certain courtyards) are free to visit, but many attractions (like the Golden Lane) require a ticket.

3. Old Town Square

Prague’s old town is on the other side of the Vltava River. The Old Town Square is the main square by far. You will eventually arrive here if you stroll through the city’s winding lanes.

Every row of houses in the Old Town Square is more exquisite than the last, making it a veritable work of beauty. Some major attractions are located in the Old Town Square, including the Old Town Hall and the impressive Church of Our Lady before Tyn.

  • Old Town Hall with its astronomical clock: The clock is one of the main attractions in this city of a hundred spires, the Old Town Hall, created in the fifteenth century. Since then, it has continuously evolved. This place has a glockenspiel that chimes every hour on the hour. 

4. Jewish District: Jewish cemetery & Synagogues

The Jewish neighborhood is located in the northern section of Old Town. It is about a five-minute walk from the Old Town Square. There are several nearby attractions to discover here.

  • The Old Jewish Cemetery: This location has about 12,000 gravestones jammed up against one another. You are welcome to tour the region.
  • The Spanish Synagogue: It is a Jewish district’s most striking synagogue. Its Moorish-style construction surprised us with its interior design.
  • The Old New Synagogue: It is the oldest synagogue in Europe and one of Prague’s first Gothic structures.
  • Maisel Synagogue: An exhibition on the Jewish history of Bohemia is housed in this unassuming synagogue.
  • Pinkas Synagogue: Here, there is a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust.
  • Klausen Synagogue: A modest synagogue designed in the Baroque style.

5. Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square holds a political significance that extends beyond its appeal to tourists. Numerous historical events have taken place on the square, including the student Jan Palach’s self-immolation in protest of the Prague Spring’s repression. Wenceslas Square is not so much a square but a broad avenue. 

Further things to do in the City of a Hundred Spires 

The sights listed above are not nearly all of what there is to witness in Prague. Here are a few more sights that are also worthwhile.

  • Klementinum Library: The Baroque library of the former Jesuit institutions is the most impressive sight. However, one can only see it when on a tour.
Prague - The City of a Hundred Spires | The Enterprise World
  • Franz Kafka Statue: Czech artist David Černý’s sculptures dot Prague, featuring the futuristic head of Franz Kafka (Yep, that’s me) near the Quadrio shopping mall.
  • John Lennon Wall: This street art wall pays homage to John Lennon. It’s worth a quick stop if you’re in the area.
  • Dancing House: The Dancing House, a prominent modern architectural marvel in Prague, was erected in 1996 along the Vltava River. While not deemed a must-see, a brief photo stop at this distinctive sight is recommended for its unique design.
  • Wallenstein Garden: Situated beneath Prague Castle, this Baroque garden offers an ideal spot for a brief respite during your sightseeing adventures. 

Cuisines that will Touch Your Soul

While writing “A Hungry Artist,” I was consumed by the thought that every artist is a selfish fraud, even ready to die out of hunger in the name of art. Maybe it was me that I tried to portray through this story. However, that won’t be the case for you. I have put together all the best places to feed your soul with vibrant flavors in this city of a hundred spires.

Prague’s Bohemian kitchen is known for its hearty, meat-heavy dishes, alongside modern-inspired restaurants offering high-quality cuisine.

  • Vegetarian options in Prague are excellent, providing delicious alternatives to meat-based meals.
  • Czech sweet treats, reminiscent of Austrian classics, include curd dumplings, pancakes, buchtel, and golatschen.
  • Trdelník, a popular pastry from Slovakia, is a must-try treat in Prague.
  • The Czech Republic is considered the beer world champion, with Czech beer being the most popular and highly-regarded beer in the world.

Prague offers a diverse culinary experience, whether enjoying a hearty meal or a pint of beer at one of its many pubs. Cheers to good food and great company in the heart of Europe.

Concluding this journey, I must say that a lot has changed from my time in this City of a Hundred Spires. The streets are more vibrant and colorful now. The smell when passing by the coffee shops and local cafes is different. The sun sets a bit early these days through the tall buildings in Prague. 

However, the city still feels the same as when I spent countless sleepless nights, wondering with my shadows. This city gave me the warmth that silenced the crowded market of thoughts in my mind. I was the same man standing in the queue like others, moving towards nothingness. However, this City of a Hundred Spires gave me and my storied wings to survive, even today, years later.

So, dear reader, should you ever find yourself lost in the labyrinth of life, remember to look up. You might find the light that leads you, born not from the absence of questions but from the courage to ask them. “This is Prague, the place where my stories take flight.”

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