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Posts tagged ‘My Prague’

My Prague: looking for Kafka & Palach in Olšany

Above/featured: A quiet leafy avenue in Prague’s Olšany Cemetery.

I can’t spend all this time in the Czech capital city, and leave without paying any respects to two 20th-century personalities of Prague. Franz Kafka was an early 20th-century German-Czech writer (e.g., 1912 Die Verwandlung/Metamorphosis), whose writings became known to the world posthumously, thanks to friend and fellow writer Max Brod. In the 1960s, Jan Palach was an important historical figure of opposition who died in protest against the Communist regime.

I’m in the underground metro, heading east from the city centre towards Vinohrady and beyond to Olšany. The sun’s out on a crisp mid-autumn day, and while deciduous trees are left wanting for leaves, the latter have piled like carpets of colour on the cemetery grounds. I’m looking for the graves of Palach and Kafka who are buried in Olšanské hřbitovy (Olšany Cemetery) and Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery), respectively.


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Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Dům U Kamenného beránka, At the stone lamb, Staromestske namesti, Old Town Square, Prague, Prag, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Prague: Brod, Einstein, & Kafka at Fanta Salon

Above/featured: it’s as if I just pointed out a famous meeting place to her right (left for the reader).

Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the most visited landmarks, dominated by the two tall spires of the Church of our Lady before Týn, Old Town Hall, and a prominent sculpture dedicated to Czech icon Jan Hus at the centre of the square.

At the southeast corner of the square is a building called (Dům) U Kamenného beránka or “At the Stone Lamb” at address Staroměstské námesti 551/17 #. To the right of the building’s main entrance is a memorial plaque with an inscription in both Czech and English. The memorial plaque was created by Czech sculptor Zdenĕk Kolářský and unveiled in 1998. Looking closer, you’ll recognize Albert Einstein’s face and his famous physics equation stating mass-energy equivalence and written in cursive script: E = mc2.

Over a 16-month period from 1911 to 1912, Albert Einstein lived in Prague with his family and was full professor of theoretical physics at the German Charles-Ferdinand University. Einstein enjoyed hanging out at a number of cafes for conversations, exchanges, and music, and he was a frequent visitor to this building where Czech liberal and intellectual Berta Fanta operated a literary-philosophical salon or lounge. The salon saw visits by many intellectuals, both domestic and international. “Domestic” writers Franz Kafka and Max Brod would have come here for the discourse as well, but it turns out little is actually known about whether all three arranged to meet or would have met here at the same time.

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My Prague: Jan Hus, Bohemian reformer and Czech icon

Above/featured: Jan Hus Monument, Old Town Square – 4 Jul 2008 (HL, 450D).

Most visitors to the Czech capital city of Prague will pass by and overlook the large sculpture near the middle of Old Town Square. The central figure in the monument is one of the most important historical figures for capital and country.

Although he may not be as well known outside of the European continent, Jan Hus is a massive historical figure within central Europe. Jan Hus was declared the greatest hero of the Czech nation in a 2015 survey by Czech Radio. In Konstanz on 6 July 1415, Jan Hus was sentenced to death on the charge of heresy. I’ve described locations in Konstanz during Hus’ final days.

In recognition of his attempts to reform the Catholic Church and to foster and encourage Bohemian identity, July 6 is commemorated annually as a national holiday in the Czech Republic: the holiday is known as “Den upálení Mistra Jana Husa,” which translates to “day of the burning of Jan Hus.”

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My Prague: David Černý, skillful s**t disturber

Considered “enfant terrible” in the European and Czech art scene, David Černý frequently has courted both controversy and amusement from the beginning in 1991 with the Pink (Soviet) Tank. Is he infuriating and crude or enlightened and hilarious? Is he misunderstood social commentator or attention-seeking hooligan? He continues to make art at home in Prague, and provoke strong reactions.

Černý’s creations can be found throughout the Czech capital city. You can decide for yourself if his artwork is inspiring or dull.


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U Kasaren, Hradcany, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Prague: a favourite place to return

Above/featured: U Kasáren from Loretánská, Hradčany – 30 July 2016 (HL).

On a personal level, the impact of this city can’t be gauged, measured, or quantified. What I know is I’ve roamed this place over countless little cobblestones. The sum of all strides led me to jumping continents and traversing nations with steps as large as my imagination could entertain and overcome.

And so, after the twelfth, fifteenth, or twentieth visit (I’ve lost count), I look at these images and ask why I surrender to the pull, why I return, and why the Czech capital city feels familiar. It’s about the old and the new, a colourful combination replacing what I’ve lost and amplifying what I’ve gained.

Prague is one of my favourite places to return.

summer sunrise, sunrise, summer, Karluv most, Charles Bridge, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Daybreak and a halo for St. John of Nepomuk, Charles Bridge (Karlův most) – 28 July 2013 (HL).

National Monument, Vítkov, Zizkov, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Over the city to the west from the National Monument on Vítkov (Národní památník na Vítkově), Žižkov – 2 August 2013 (HL).

Muzeum, stanice metra, metro station, DPP, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Metro line C commuters at Muzeum station, Vinohrady – 8 November 2016 (HL)

Ginger and Fred, Fred and Ginger, Dancing House, Tančící dům, Prag, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Dancing House (Tančící dům) with streaking northbound streetcar, Nové Město – 6 November 2016 (HL)

I wrote a “love letter” to Prague, which as many have discovered also includes “the night watch.”

I made all of the above images in 2013 and 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-bCs.

Alfons Mucha, Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Museum fuer Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Prague: Alfons Mucha & Slavic Art Nouveau

Above: “Amants” (1895), poster for actress Sarah Bernhardt and her Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg – 5 Dec 2015 (HL).

One of my favourite artists from the Art Nouveau period is Czech artist Alfons Mucha (“MOOTZ’kha”). He loved strong women, or at the very least, he loved drawing and painting images of strong women, from the unique perspectives of a professional nature (above, Sarah Bernhardt) and a personal nature (below, “The Slav Epic”). I also associate Mucha with Prague, and it’s fitting the Mucha Museum prominently features his 1911 painting of “Princess Hyacinth.”

The meeting at Krizky, The Slav Epic, Alfons Mucha, Narodni Galerie, National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Part of “The Meeting at Křížky” (from “The Slav Epic”, 1916). National Gallery Prague – 30 July 2013 (HL).

Princess Hyacinth, Alfons Mucha, Mucha Museum, Praha, Prague, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

Princezna Hyacinta” (Princess Hyacinth, 1911). Mucha Museum, 31 July 2013 (HL).


I made all of the photos above in July 2013 and December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8S5.

My Prague: the night watch

With visits to the city numbering well into the double digits, Prague started me on a different path, and eventually, to a change in my life.

According to legend, the city’s name, Praha, is derived from the Czech word, “práh” for “threshold” or “steps”. With the city’s geographic location within the European continent, it’s hard to recount the chronicles of Central Europe without mentioning Praha. History and significance permeates the city in the cobbled stonework, centuries of architecture, and stories of struggle and change.

I believe the city is one step of many on my journey and transition from my past as research scientist to a future that remains under continuous construction. Prague has been and continues to be an important part of this process. I’ve fallen in love with Praha – she means a lot to me.

As day passes to night, many parts of the city become quiet and empty, with only the yellow glow of the street lamps for company. Many are taught not to go into areas unknown, poorly lit, or vacant.

But I know Praha enough to see her differently.

I’ve done the legwork by day, scouting out and noting various locations around the city, and imagining their appearance in the dark. With a newly crafted road map in my head, I stand in the hotel lobby. I close my eyes in a mental walkthrough of my map, breathing deeply, slowly. I open my eyes again and step out into the night, guided by the lights of Staré Město, and across the Vltava over to Mal´ Strana.

I’m on the “night watch” with Rembrandt’s painting high in mind. The city and its streets don’t care who we are or from where we come. They lie still, in wait around the next corner.

In this place I’m always on the verge of something new; it’s a set of new ideas, much of them extraordinary, romantic, and meaningful. The meanings signify truth on a personal level for those willing to listen and heed the signs.

Prague never lets go of you … this little mother has claws.
— Franz Kafka (1883-1924).

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David Cerny, Quo Vadis?, sculpture, German Embassy, Prague, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Prague: historic balcony for GDR refugees

That’s one very famous balcony.

The balcony on the second floor facing the back gardens doesn’t look particularly special. But here in the Czech capital city of Prague there’s an important connection between that building’s balcony and events leading to the fall of the Wall. This building is also the German Embassy, and it’s where Hans-Dietrich Genscher looked over the crowds from the balcony and made a famous speech in 1989.

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My Prague: Na hrad! To the castle!

I love Prague’s little streets, and I’ve always photographed her streets at night. On an evening walk through Prague’s Little Quarter, I came across this street lamp and a sign directing people to the Prague Castle (Pražský hrad).

I saw my “50-50” light-dark composition, and I brought my camera to bear on the scene. Another moment went by, and I thought of the call “na hrad!

Thunovska and Zamecka, Mala Strana, Praha, Czech Republic

“Na hrad!” (To the castle!)

Towards the final days of Communism in November 1989, protestors from around the country gathered at Wenceslas Square in Prague, shouting “Havel, na hrad!” (Havel, to the castle). The events of the “Velvet Revolution” led to peaceful dissolution of one-party rule, and writer Vaclav Havel became leader of a “new world”, a post-communist and democratic Czechoslovakia nation.

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of The Velvet Revolution. 2018 will mark the 25th anniversary of The Velvet Divorce, a peaceful and amicable separation of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

I made the photo shown above, at the corner of Thunovská and Zámecká in Prague’s Malá Strana on 30 July 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-4XQ.


5 more Prague posts on Fotoeins Fotopress

•   “Praha, miluju tě | I love you, Prague”
•   5 of the Best Spots to View Prague at Night
•   “Love story number 1”
•   The colours of fall in Praha
•   Alfons Mucha’s “The Slav Epic” Returns to Prague

Karluv most, Charles Bridge, summer dawn, Prague, Praha, Prag, Czech Republic, UNESCO World Heritage Site, fotoeins.com

Praho, miluju tě | I love you, Prague

“Foreward”

With visits numbering well into double digits, my affection for the Czech capital city of Prague remains undiminished, even in the midst of surging summer or winter crowds. When I’ve been in danger of being swamped, I veer off to a side street or quiet park; I’ll also wait for the relative solitude of nightfall or dawn. The magic is knowing I haven’t strayed very far from the big sights.

How I ended up chasing dreams over cobblestone streets, past the thousand spires and ornate facades, and across centuries of European art and history, has exceeded the limits of my imagination.

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