A mystic fall in Prague

By Sergio González | 11:49

Cold sunset over mystic Prague Castle

Prague was founded under the prophetical visions of Libussa, a mythical Czech woman who ruled Moravia region sometime around the 7th and 8th century; as every good legend, it’s blurred by veils of the unknown.

Libussa was a one of a kind woman. As heir of the Duchy of Bohemia, she was expected to get married to some prince or nobleman, but she had envisaged a young farmer ploughing the soil and wearing a broken sandal; her future husband.

Libussa’s strong resolve would engage everybody in her vision and the Czech fields were combed until they found this fine young man. Their marriage was successful –and very passionate according to colorful legends– and the couple ruled peacefully and wisely. 1,200 years later, they are still a beloved symbol for Czechs.

Around Prague Castle, others place her throne in Vysehrad hills, Libussa had the vision of a city that shall touch the stars and be named Práh -threshold- because even the greatest man have to bend the head before a threshold.

The first settlement is currently a picturesque neighborhood many times chosen by bohemian painters in the 18th century and by ad producers and fashion photographers in the 21st one. Lesser Town is a great place to get lost among historical narrow streets, buy some traditional Czech handcrafts and have a beer in an old warm pub. 

The oldest towers and gates remaining in Prague -these are one of the main city attractions- are from this time. Lesser Town Tower Bridge still stands out as one of the Czech Romanesque jewels.

Prague would come to the world to enlighten and inspire mankind. Early after a first wooden city was built up, trade flourished under the protection of Libussa’s offspring and expatriate Jews would found the oldest synagogue in Europe and a thriving market.

Time and fate put Prague under the protection of the Archbishopric of Mainz and when Václav -Wenceslas in Englishwas appointed new Lord of Moravia he started working in a new cathedral for Prague. In the year of our lord 1344, the first stone of Saint Vitus Cathedral was set at the magnificent Prague Castle complex, achieving city’s independence.

In the following years, he was crowned Charles IV as Emperor of the allmighty Holy Roman Empire, but also king of the Romans, Italy and Burgundy. Holding in his hands the power of current East France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Middle Europe he was able to accomplish his vision for an imperial capital in Prague.

Do you know that the coquette Prague was once the third largest city in Europe, right after legendary Rome and Constantinople?

He projected the most advance urban layout of the Middle Ages, Nové Město -New Town-.

Trying to step up to the magnificence the scholar kinghe founded a university for Prague in 1347– had learned from the classics in Rome, a new royal city was erected outside the old city walls; who would dare to defy the emperor? 

To marry the old Prague with  the new Eternal City, Charles IV commanded the construction of a bridge that carries his name. Charles Bridge replaced Judith one, carried away by a flood, and was born under the most accurate auspices of Czech mystics to ensure its endurance. 135797531 it’s the palindrome date chosen, carved into the stone for us to picture while in Prague.

In Old Town Square we find another witness of Czech mysticism, the Astronomical Clock; still working after 600 years.

During Middle Ages, a thriving trading city meant a religion tolerant city, and such was Prague, even when the pious Habsburg dynasty took over the Czechs. Rudolf II promoted arts, music and science -Kepler amazed the court with his laws about planetary motion- to the highest levels of the continent but also fell for local magic and astrology.

Another oddness of Prague would happen during this time, the Second Defenestration. Trowing people throughout windows started out two different wars in Bohemia.

Like a Phoenix, Prague emerged shiny and renewed from a huge fire which burnt down the city at the beginning of 18th century. Many historic buildings were lost to fire and to a renovation mood but it was in sake of  Baroque, so it’s forgivable.

Temples as Our Lady before Týn or St Nicholas Church and beautiful Wallenstein Palace set an example of famous Prague Baroque for the rest of the city’s facades to follow. Prague flourished greatly as one of the capitals of Austro-Hungarian Empire and museums, auditoriums and gardens can be found almost everywhere.

The romantic nationalistic revolutions of 19th century Europe strengthened a Czech feeling that ended up the foreign yoke after WWI and started a golden age for literature and arts.

As soon as they were free, Czech recovered their taste for magic and mysticism; art nouveau and cubism were the perfect match for them. Kafka made the world reflect about existence with his surreal novels and metamorphic characters.

Prague won’t be free for much longer; Germans and Soviets were eager to posses its prosperity. Two velvet revolutions –failed Prague Spring and sucesful Gentle Revolution– were needed to regain the country only to split it into modern Slovakia and Czech Republic.

Since then, Prague’s commitment to the future –skyscreapers at Pankráck quarter are the new glass and steel mints– is progressing well to set it back as major cultural city in the EU.

NH Hoteles didn’t want to miss new Prague but who could resist the charming old town. As we couldn’t decide, we decided we should offer you it all. NH Prague has a modern and unique design which is underlined by its two buildings which are connected to one another by the ‘Lanovka’ inclined lift, whereby the higher building offers a beautiful view of the Czech capital. The 4-star hotel has 439 stylishly decorated rooms, as well as comfortable standard, superior and executive rooms, including 28 suites full of fitness and wellness facilities, high-tech business rooms and luxury suites, but in the middle of historic Prague, close to the main sightseeings and many fun things to do.

Whether you want to have a romantic weekend break, gather your mates on a beer trip to Middle Ages breweries or help Prague thrive making business in town, now you know NH will take care of you.

Photo Credit: Mo Costandi

 

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