This expanse of dramatic clouds, Petrin Hill, and the Vltava River was across the street from our hotel in Prague. While always a gorgeous view, most evenings brought rain instead of this kind of skyscape. I was lucky to find this scene on the final night of the trip.
We visited Prague more than a year ago, arriving (without perhaps fully considering it) on the thirtieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Strolling between the shops of Wenceslas Square, my brain worked overtime to connect the place with the images of protests in 1989 and the great changes that had come about in the time since.
There is more than one statue of Franz Kafka in Prague, but this mirrored head with rotating segments (see the motion blur at the jawline) was the most dramatic I visited. At the time, the head was, naturally, the most surreal aspect of the location. In the present, the crowds of people on the night street (also visible in the reflective base) are perhaps more shocking.
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.
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.
Prague’s Charles Bridge is centuries-old, covered in statues, and seemly perpetually mobbed. We visited during the off-season (November) and never saw the bridge without plenty of company. Perhaps the best part of the visit, though, was staying adjacent to the bridge in the Smetana Hotel, looking out over the Vltava (and crossing the bridge on many of our adventures around the city.)
From up close, the hotel is easier to find, but small triangle park across the street from the hotel is still not visible from this angle, making the the geometry of the ground floor and the street outside escheresque.
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.