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By Consul B. John Zavrel


The City of Dreams - the Hundred-spired City - the Heart of Europe - the Magic Prague - the Art Nouveau Prague - the City of Music - home to 75 million tourists annually - the Golden Prague



Prague, the city of dreams - - this is one of the attributes given to Prague, one of the names given to this ancient city celebrated by poets for centuries and praised by visitors. It is said that one can find what one had dreamt about only in dreams and in Prague.

For more than 1,100 years visitors to Prague have been trying to give Prague a suitable name: stone Prague, golden Prague, magic Prague, hundred-spired Prague. The myth from ancient times tells about Princess Libuse, who in her prophecy envisioned a great city whose fame would touch the stars. Let us take a look at a few of the names given to Prague in the course of her history. Each of these names will let us see one of her attractive features.


Hundred-spired Prague.

It might be impossible to count all the big and small spires of the Prague churches, palaces and houses. Prague is a city of countless architectural treasures. This city has been developing for more than 1,100 years, and new memorable buildings were constantly growing. The settlement of Prague began in a valley, on either bank of the river Moldau, between two castles standing on a rock. The older one was built in the 9th century on a rocky hill, and has become the dominant feature of the Prague skyline. This seat, later called Prague Castle, has been a residence of the heads of state from the Middle Ages to the present. The Emperor Karl IV designed the plan of Prague's development, which has survived well into the centuries that followed.

In spite of having been often destroyed by wars, Prague was able to keep her enormous legacy. The city is rich in Romanesque monuments. The fast recatolicization of the country carried out mainly by the Jesuits was accompanied by the remarkable development of the Baroque style. Dozens of artists, mainly from Italy and Germany, gave Prague her Baroque apprearance, which the city has preserved until this time. The face of Prague reflects every cultural period and every artistic style. Prague is not only the heart of Europe, but she is also the heart of European architecture, built with love for more than one thousand years.

Prague, the Heart of Europe.

Looking at the map of Europe, we can see that Prague is really a focal point, heart and center of the continent. It is also a place where for centuries different nations were mixing and different cultures were merging, influencing each other. Those who walk through Prague walk through the history of Europe, follow the traces of the many reformers, artists, rulers and army leaders who influenced this continent as far as ideas, art and politics are concerned. This heart of Europe was having a "heart attack" for the last 5 decades, until 1989, the year of the European Revolution. Now fresh cultural blood is flowing to it. The heart of Europe starts pulsing, the old charm of one of the most memorable towns is now enhanced by fresh charm.

Magic Prague.

These names are known all over the civilized world: Doctor Faust's Prague (his house can be still found in Prague), Golem's Prague - this name was given to the city after the mythical clay giant symbolizing Jewish magic. The Emperor Rudolph II also contributed to its magic reputation a great deal. This emperor of alchymists, the admirer and student of occultism and patron of the arts gathered in Prague one of the largest collections of art of that time. The remains of the collection, still preserved in Prague, are remarkable. However, the emperor left Prague something else that cannot be taken from the city: the atmosphere of mystery.

Art Nouveau Prague.

Prague Art Nouveau monuments represent a very sophisticated part of the city's landscape. Nostalgic gracefulness sometimes named after the famous Czech artist Alfons Mucha found favorable conditions in Prague. The lovers of this art can enjoy the fragile Art Nouveau beauty and find their paradise in this dreamy town.

Prague, the City of music.

This is another name given to this city famed for its special love of music. Many famous musicians gave concerts in its palaces, composed in its buildings and were inspired by its beauty. Mozart's Prague deeply influenced the life of the great composer as well as the lives of other composers. At the present time, music is heard in Prague cathedrals, concert halls and in the streets as well. Every year the Prague Spring Festival attracts visitors and music stars from all over the world.

Hospitable Prague.

Prague has been known for her hospitality for centuries. For nearly fifty years this city and its people experienced a very difficult time, but they have recovered rapidly. Visitors are offered traditional Czech products: decorative glass, fine porcelain, artificial jewelry, CD's with Czech music, art publications and illustrated books. Prague has once again become popular for the Czech cuisine. And who does not appreciate the fine Czech beers, especially the famous Pilsner Urquell and the real Budweiser?

One can choose accomodations ranging from the big hotels and famous restaurants to one of the many cosy private hotels and small taverns, so typical of the Prague of old. In addition to museums, galleries and theatres the visitors to Prague are offered jazz and rock clubs, discos and casinos. Now, Prague represents also a place with an enourmous growth of different business activities. The modern Prague Exhibition Center provides the city with new possibilities for organizing international exhibitions and trade fairs.

Prague, the home of tourists.

Annually, over 75 million visitors come to Prague, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. More than 30,000 young Americans have made Prague their new home; an English language newspaper, Prague Post is published weekly for the large English-speaking community. Why is Prague so popular? Prague offers as many faces as her visitors wish, each of them being different from the others. Prague changes rapidly beyond recognition, depending on the season, the weather or the time of day; but the city never loses its attractiveness. A certain kind of beauty can bore after some time, but Prague is lucky in this respect: her beauty changes, always surprises and never bores. Prague has the wisdom of a thousand years of existence, as well as the bloom and the excitement of youth. She will always remain the Golden Prague for those who set on a long journey to visit and experience her streets.

Prague is a city familiar even to those visitors who arrive from the most remote corners of the world. This city offers many opportunities to art lovers who like being enchanted, to photographers who want to take pictures, and to all those who just like to wander about and take a rest in her romantic quiet corners. All these Prague places, having been built and loved by their inhabitants for tens of generations, breathe the atmosphere of tradition.

Prague is like a special wine. The older the wine, the better the taste. Prague is a magic treasury of unrepeatable experiences and impressions. Each newcomer is offered one of her magic countenances, one of the unusual moods of Prague, the Golden City.



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