The Winding Paths of Prague

By Marina Afonkina
Published: September 2010

Tiredly anticipating the long-awaited arrival, 17 exhausted students and two teachers stepped off the plane into Prague. The historical yet majestic city of Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, formally known as Czechoslovakia. The ride to Hotel Arbus consisted of winding roads and steep hills on which castles stood, with the Vltava  River twisting through. Prague’s monuments and architecture, displaying the history of the once united kingdoms of Moravia and Bohemia.
Throughout Prague Spring’s–in this case Prague Summer’s–journey, we saw monuments, walked up hills, watched FIFA Matches, and ate traditional Czech food.  Our everyday journeys began by taking the tram to various locations in Prague. On the first day, we explored the exterior of the Prague castle, situated on top of a hill, where guards were stationed to protect the president.  A prime location for touristic pictures, the castle exhibited the best view of the skyline in Prague. Continuing our 10 mile exhibition, we walked down the hill and over a bridge to explore the old town square.  Although packed with FIFA fanatics, we noticed and appreciated the Jan Hus memorial and Albert Einstein’s plaque.
Day one of Prague exploration was not over without a walk along the Charles Bridge. This gothic-style architecture spans across the Vltava River. The beautiful bridge is full of tourists, kiosks with jewelry, and performing arts: men playing glasses filled with water to be exact.  After we crossed the Charles Bridge we went inside the Lucerna palace which was originally a concert hall, but now a home to an arcade, cafes, and festivities. Walking through the great hall, we came upon a hanging statue of an upside down horse with a knight sitting on it.
The next day, we took the tram again to the outer city of Prague.  We walked through the empty streets and a tunnel, and up a winding path to the Vitkov National Museum. This memorial exhibits the crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovakian Statehood, including an exhibition, a mausoleum, and an equestrian statue of Jan Zizka. Along with displaying the history of the Czech Republic, the national memorial’s café, located towards the top, expressed an exceptional view of the Zizkov TV tower.  The unconventional structure was made to jam Western radio and television transmissions by the Warsaw pact forces in the case of attack by NATO. The structure is inhabited by “Crawling babies and continues to be a unique, yet popular view in the Prague skyline.
After a picnic atop the memorial, we headed down the hill and took the tram to the new Jewish cemetery where we found the tomb of Franz Kafka and other important Czech figures. Although a trip through a cemetery is gloomy, we finished off our day by going to the Wenceslas Square, where we saw the National Museum in Prague.  We stood “under the tail of the St. Wenceslas statue, where we admired the view of the oldest museum in the Czech Republic.
Prague is a one-of-a-kind city. With its history, culture, food, and scenery. In just three days, the studious brains of Prague Spring participants absorbed it all.

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