"I see a majestic city, whose glory will reach the stars!"
Such was the prophecy of Libuše, a beautiful woman of royal blood, who married a humble ploughman, Premyšl. According to the legends, she had visions of a glorious "golden" city and her dynasty ended up ruling Prague from the castle of Vyšehrad.
Everyone who has once visited this city will tell you that it holds a certain magic; one that will allure and capture you like no other metropolis.
My father was born there. He studied at Charles University, where he met my mother. Today both my parents live outside Prague, where they moved about three years ago. I never lived in the city myself, only briefly in its vicinity when I was a child. But I have spend almost all of my childhood summers here, until the age of twelve. They were spend in company of my grandparents and the rest of the family on my fathers side.
I knew already as a child that this was a special place. I read its tales with excitement and fascination and have always been intrigued by the "city of hundred spires". Positioned truly in the heart of Europe, it has played major roles in its history. And indeed history can be sensed everywhere. It is almost as if the city is an aged book; the old cobbled streets are lines in stories that will take you back into the time of knights and kings, into wars and to the time of peace, when the city flourished and its powerful rulers gave rise to the magnificent castles, bridges, churches and cathedrals that are its trademark to this day.
It would take me days and days to list all the sights, packed with tales of history, describing the rise and fall of the capital of small kingdoms and even empires throughout the times. Instead I decided to post a collage of pictures depicting the main historical places which I visited on my recent trip. I have seen them all, numerous times before. Yet, they seem always new to me. Each visit is different than the previous one, as I am different as well. Each time I see something new. This time I saw everything once again fresh and unexplored through the eyes of the Irishman. Unlike during other visits, on this occasion I tried to look up, at the old houses and the striking architecture and the multitude of "house signs"; small ornate pictures illustrating a particular spot, aiding greatly in recognition of places in the -often illiterate- past.
What makes the city unique is the picturesque downtown, that stretches from the castle, which towers over the river Vltava (Moldau) and continues spreading over both river banks, which are connected by the legendary Charles Bridge. This creates almost a theater backdrop, appearing at times unreal. Very romantic at night, when the historical buildings become illuminated, one can feel the past and the present combine in a fairytale like setting.
Today, the city I remember from my childhood doesn't exist. Progress, as always, brings changes. I refuse to contemplate to what extend these changes bring benefits or not. The optimist in me will at all times think that change is the only constant in life. One can either choose to be assimilated by it, or to embrace it and realize that time will never stand still, only in ones memories.
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