A partial transcript of Episode 19 of THE ART MOVEMENT. Click here to listen to the full radio show.
My love for Prague has been reignited over the past several weeks, as I was forced to remain with the outbreak of the pandemic. At first, I was far from happy about the whole thing but now, I feel like I couldn’t have been stuck in a more beautiful city and I have been treasuring these last few days that I have here, as I am most likely going to be flying out of here on the third of August, unless something happens.
Nonetheless, for the past weeks I have been saying that Prague has been one of the places that responded the quickest to the outbreak and as a result, things never got so severe here. In fact, for about two months now, businesses have reopened and these include museums.
So, after a while of being reluctant about leaving the house, I decided that I might as well take in some of the sights and museums. So, last week for example, I told stories about visiting several museums in the city and since then, I ticked another landmark that I had never visited, strangely enough. Prague Castle.
Now, the Prague Castle is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. It’s a complex. A beautiful complex built in the 9th century that is a must-see for anybody visiting this city. Prague castle was the seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia. Today, it’s the official office of the President of the Czech Republic.
It’s also incredibly vast and varied. The Guinness Book of Records acknowledges it as the largest ancient castle in the world. And what did strike me was the wide variety of architectural styles that can be admired within it.
There’s the Old Royal Palace and the Vladislav Hall, which combines Late Gothic with elements of the newly arriving Renaissance style; the St. Vitus Cathedral, which stood unfinished for centuries and as such, is like a schizophrenic blend of Renaissance, Gothic and Art Nouveau; and then there is the small-scale small-scale architecture of the little houses of Golden Lane, among other things that I won’t list there for time’s sake.
Actually, the reason why I decided to finally visit the Castle was that I have been on a Franz Kafka high as of late. I have read most of everything he wrote in his life and think about him a lot everytime I find myself in his hometown. Kafka himself lived in one of the little homes of Golden Lane. More precisely, he lived in house number 22 with his sister Ottla in 1916-1917.
The house itself is tiny, so much so that it’s almost hard to imagine two people living there. So, he didn’t live there very long and now, the little house is a souvenir shop. I bought a Kafka notepad and a little postcard because I just felt like I had to buy something Kafka-related.
In any case, it’s kind of a thrill being there for a fan like me, also because I am sensible to spaces. While he was there, he wrote some short stories for the book A Country Doctor and found inspiration for his book The Castle, which he would start writing in 1922 and would not be published in his lifetime.
If you do decide to visit, you should know that you can walk around the castle for free and aside from the spectacular architecture, you can enjoy an amazing view of Prague from above that alone is worth your climbing the steep steps that take you to the castle.
Some areas of the castle are restricted, which means that you need a ticket to visit them. These include some of the cathedrals and Golden Lane before 6 p.m., when all the houses and little shop inside them are open for business. But after 6 o’clock, Golden Lane is open too. I didn’t have time to visit the restricted areas because they are locked up by 6 p.m. But I do think that getting a ticket would be well worth the price.