A trip to Prague Castle

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.

THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 19 (RADIO SHOW)

Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about the arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted by globe-trotting art presenter Matt Micucci, featuring plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to episode 19 via one of the players below.

Download the full radio show here.

In this episode:

  • Franz Kafka and the meaning of “Kafkaesque”
  • Diego Velázquez and the Infanta Margarita
  • Vocalese pioneer Annie Ross has died
  • Joaquin Phoenix animal rights documentary causes hostage crisis in Ukraine
  • Pablo Picasso and the Cannes years

And more, plus lots of music.

5 clips from THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 18 (RADIO SHOW)

Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.

(To listen to the full show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Ingrid Berlin has died.

Prague’s art exhibition space is expanding.

The time Frank Zappa took a shot of Becherovka.

How environmentalism facilitated Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution of 1989.

Ancient Egyptian love poems.

Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.

The time Frank Zappa took a shot of Becherovka

A partial transcript of Episode 18 of THE ART MOVEMENT. To listen to the full radio show, CLICK HERE.

“That was the music of Frank Zappa. I remind you that for a full list of the songs played on the show, you can head on over to inartematt.com, where I post a full list of the songs during the week.

I love me some Zappa but I also played him for another reason. As I mentioned, the Historical Building of the Museum of Prague had that exhibition on the Velvet Revolution and among other incredibly cool things, including the democratic election Vaclav Havel, a dissident playwright, to president, Czechoslovakia named Frank Zappa as a cultural ambassador.

The reason why he has been on my mind quite a bit lately is because in that exhibition, on one of the screens showing images of people celebrating the rise of democracy in the country and everybody just happy to be alive in such a beautiful historic moment, there was footage of Frank Zappa being passed a bottle of Becherovka and actually taking a good swig of it. Which was shocking to see, given that Zappa did not drink — he was a renowned teetotaler — and yet here he was.

The atmosphere was so infectious that he too had to take a swig of alcohol and join in the frenzy. I think that goes to show just how amazing it must have been in Czechoslovakia at the time.

But that’s the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and of course, democracy had been a long time coming in the country. In 1968, there had been a Prague Spring, an odd period of liberalization that was, however, short lived when the Soviet Union decided to strengthen its stronghold on the country once again and resign it to the purgatory-like state that it had been under since the hell of Nazi German occupation.

The 20th century truly was a tough time for a land that was once one of the wealthiest jewels in the world.”

Download the full radio show here.

Some of the current exhibitions at the Historical Building of the National Museum of Prague

A partial transcript of Episode 18 of THE ART MOVEMENT. To listen to the full radio show, CLICK HERE.

“Earlier I mentioned that the exhibitions themselves were essentially nothing to write about. At least as far as the ones I visited was concerned. But that doesn’t mean they were all bad. Far from it. I guess there was something to like about every one of them. But some of them really stood out. For example, I liked two in the historical building of the National Museum.

One of them was on the Velvet Revolution of 1989, which presents the events of the second half of the 1980s, the Velvet Revolution itself and the period until the elections of June 1990. It’s more of an overview than anything really insightful but it’s a nice refresher and well-suited to these times in which democracy just seems to be vulnerable in various parts of the world.

The other exhibition that really catches your eye is the Hall of Minerals, which was first opened by Professor Karel Vrba in 1892 and was therefore one of the first exhibitions opened in the Historic Building after its construction.

The current exhibition is actually organized in its original form, and the display was the result of a collaboration between Vrna and the architect Josef Schulz, who designed the Historical Building of the National Museum of Prague. The collection as a whole includes more than 100,000 minerals but only 4% of the collection is currently exhibited.

When you walk into the hall, you see so many of these minerals that you’re really taken aback. All the glitter and colours and just natural beauty — it really quite a breathtaking sight and so well curated. It’s almost overwhelming.

I posted pictures of it on my instagram and one of the comments remarked that they thought I had taken a picture of a cake display and it really is true. Some of those pieces do look good enough to eat. I enjoyed the exhibition of the State Czech Symbols from 1918 to present day, including the national anthems, the flag and just that type of stuff.

And just as a little trivia, the flag of the Czech Republic is white, red and blue. And the traditional symbolic meaning of these colors is as follows. The white color stands for the people of the Czech Republic and their peaceful nature and honesty. Red color means courage, valor and patriotism of the nation. The blue symbolizes vigilance, truth, loyalty and perseverance.”

Download the full radio show here.

Prague is expanding its art exhibition space

“So, last week, I mentioned that there is currently an initiative in Prague where, if you choose to visit one of nine of the museums in the city, you’re given a ticket that allows you to visit nine for the price of one over the course of five days. This is not an initiative that was started to encourage people to visit the museums after the lockdown, and has actually been in place since at least last year.

As expected, I didn’t have enough time to visit all nine because I’m not on holiday and because I also happen to be quite busy but also because museums generally tend to close too early.

There are reasons for that as artworks too need to breathe and proper cleanups of the place need to be done in order to protect whatever artifacts or historical artifact is displayed but as a result, during the week for most people, it is particularly hard to sporadically take trips to the museum.

Yet, that’s when I like to go, on weekday mornings, because I know that unless I encounter a party of schoolkids on a school trip or the annoying tourists wearing that deadly sandals and socks combo, I know there’s going to be less people, which would allow me to have a more immersive experience.

Of about four museums I got to visit, my favorite experience was easily that of the historical building of the National Museum in Prague. And it wasn’t so much the exhibitions, which in general, in all of the museums I visited, were a bit underwhelming. But it was the building itself that is absolutely stunning. It was actually closed for almost a decade for renovations and only recently reopened for the public, though renovation is not yet completed.

The current historical building of the National Museum of Prague, which is located in Wenceslas Square, actually dates back to 1891 and as mentioned, it was built according to plans by architect Josef Schulz. It has also been a national cultural monument since 1962.

The style of the architecture is neo-renaissance, which is a type of architecture by a group of 19th century revivalists who drew inspiration from a wide range of classicizing Italian modes. The entrance hall to the Historical Building is grand, with sweeping staircases, intricate stonework and beautiful ceiling frescos.

The dome hall is absolutely breathtaking. Not only is it adorned with some beautiful frescos and a cupola of stained glass. But it also offers an amazing view of Wenceslas Square. So, you can easily spend half an hour in that hall alone or more, and not even notice time going by. And that’s kind of what I did and I was glad.

It’s worth mentioning that the Historical Building is connected via an underground tunnel to a New Building of the National Museum of Prague, which is just across the street from it. This modern expansion means that as soon as the renovations of the Historical Building in Prague is completed, Prague will have expanded its exhibition space considerably.

And while everybody knows that Prague is truly a gem of arts and culture of the entire European continent, perhaps the most Bohemian of all capital cities — if you’ll pardon the pun — this museum expansion makes me think or predict that Prague will truly become a major center for the art market in the not so distant future.”

Download the full radio show here.

THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 18 (RADIO SHOW)

Welcome to THE ART MOVEMENT, a radio show about the arts and culture, where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed. The show is hosted by globe-trotting art presenter Matt Micucci, featuring plenty of music, interview clips and thoughts on current events.

Listen to episode 18 via one of the players below.

Download the file directly form this player

In this episode:

  • How environmentalism facilitated Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.
  • Prague is expanding its art exhibition space.
  • Andy Warhol Superstar and artist Brigid Berlin has died.
  • Ancient Egyptian love poems.

And more, plus lots of music.

5 CLIPS FROM THE ART MOVEMENT – Episode 17 (RADIO SHOW)

Here are five clips from the latest episode of my radio show, THE ART MOVEMENT, the weekly radio show hosted/produced by arts presenter Matt Micucci. The show revolves around art and culture, and where all art forms and free thoughts are allowed.

(To listen to the full show, scroll to the bottom of the page.)

Ennio Morricone has died.

Future shock and the challenge of promoting art in the internet age.

Nabwana IGG talks about the Ugandan film studio Wakaliwood.

Prague’s “9 Museums in 5 Days” initiative.

Art content creators and burnouts.

Lots more where that came from! You can listen to the full epsiode of THE ART MOVEMENT (including the music) via the player below.

Click here to buy my book of thoughts on film, Eye of the Beholder, on Amazon!

9 Museums in 5 Days. A Great Initiative from the Czech Ministry of Culture

A partial transcript of Episode 17 of THE ART MOVEMENT. To listen to the full radio show, CLICK HERE.

I actually have visited a number of museums over this past week and it was amazing! My intention at first was just to visit the Historical Building of the National Museum in Prague, where I have been for about four months now. And I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do it due to the pandemic but unlike many parts of the world, Prague is relatively safe and by all means, almost completely reopened. At least for the time being…

Nonetheless, this means that museums are reopened too and I was somehow able to schedule my weekly tasks to fit in various trips to the museums. And I say various because here in Prague, there is an initiative happening whereby you can’t get a ticket for just one museum — you get a ticket and you can visit nine museums over the course of five days. And that ticket costs 200 crowns, which roughly speaking is less than 10 euro and to give you another example, it’s basically the price of four ripe, juicy avocados.

Now, this is an initiative that involves nine museums across the city and I wasn’t able to visit all of them but some of them, including the Historical Building of the National Museum, which underwent an almost decade long renovation, which isn’t even completed yet but just seeing what it looks like so far was a breathtaking experience. I don’t want to say it too loud, but that building alone is worth the price of the ticket.

And the initiative itself isn’t something that the Czech Ministry of Culture just came up with to encourage people to visit museums again after the pandemic — it actually started in late 2019 as far as I understand it.

But it does make me think that having initiatives in place like that will make it easier for the cultural sector of any country to encourage people to experience cultural events of various kinds even after a long time of the same people being told not to leave the house.