Part of a series of works by Dan Flavin, featured in the National Gallery Salm Palace in Prague.
While Prague Castle’s position on a hilltop is apparent from the south side, the opposite side of the fortress is equally isolated from its surroundings by a steep and wooded hillside.
I’ve long looked to capture gradients from nature to civilization in my images, but I think this one captures a gradient, instead, through time. The foreground, among the Royal Gardens of Prague Castle, seems so ancient in contrast with Old Town in the middle-distance and the twentieth-century additions to the city on the horizon.
Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being takes place in these environs of Prague, and something of the dramatic clouds and deep black of this image reminded me of that novel.
Much like Manhattan’s Central Park, Prague’s Petřín is (in part) a demonstration of the will and effort required on the part of a city to maintain green spaces. Once they become part of the city’s identity (as in those aforementioned cases), they exist in a space orthogonal to modern real estate development.
The compactness of European cities, particularly ones like Prague that are situated in valleys, leads to these kinds of spectacularly vertical spaces. Each street seems to be stacked nearly on top of the next.
On the hilltops above those city streets, inside Prague Castle, the space continues to be used efficiently.
Above the castle structures, the spires of St. Vitus Cathedral continue the verticality.
The city streets of Prague’s Old Town may be fairly narrow, but a Mini still looks small. Perhaps the enormous-looking man behind the wheel adds to the effect. Whatever the case, the connection to the original Italian Job makes me happy any time I see a Mini in a European city.
So many of our days in Prague were gray and overcast; the rooftops were the main source of color.
On the second-to-last day of our week, however, blue skies and sunshine finally revealed a city of far more vibrant hues.
St. Vitus Cathedral is at the heart of Prague Castle and just as grand as words like “cathedral” and “castle” imply.
Inside was thoroughly saturated with visitors.
By comparison, much of the rest of the castle seemed empty. Given that this was the winter “refresh and repair” season, we weren’t surprised.