(eTN) – This is my personal expression of affection for a city – its history, architecture, hospitality, and friendliness of its people – that deserves such a heartfelt tribute. My first encounter with Prague dates back to many years ago. It was a castle that remained impressed in my mind after reading a book from the plot that I dare say was intriguing. Not a book of an anonymous author: it was “The Castle,” written by Franz Kafka. Since that long gone time, my memory of the castle has remained alive. I went to the Czec Republic visiting Carlovy Vary, at that time a village, now known as the largest spa resort in the country and the largest of three that make up the “welfare triangle,” as well as for its famous film festival.
At last, at the second decade of the new century, I realized the thrill of visiting that magical place linked to the short life of Franz Kafka!
It was with emotion that I stood in front of the majestic Prague Castle (Lobkowicz Palace) owned by the homonymous historical noble family and one of the most significant cultural and magnificent palaces of Europe of the sixteenth century – the largest of its kind in the world – with its grandeur that has mastered the appearance of the city.
The majestic fortress could be called a city within another city! Its interior comprises courtyards and numerous buildings, including the Royal Palace, residence of the kings, and Katedrala Sv Life., the majestic St. Vitus Cathedral and one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe. The area of the castle open to the public, a labyrinth of rooms decorated with elegant styles and themes, is home to a magnificent collection of works of art ranked among the largest private collections in Europe.
Canaletto, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the largest collection of Spanish painters of the sixteenth-century out of Spain and Austria are open to the enrichment of the culture of a growing number of tourists and business people to congress to which the property has allocated part of the immense structure. Activities also extend to Nelahozeves Castle, linked to the family of Lobkowicz Roudnice whose nobility dates back six centuries.
From the castle heights, one dominates the landscape of the heart of the city parted by the Vltava River. Both sides are joined together by bridges one can readily distinguish: Stare Mesto – the Old Town, Josefov district and what’s left of the old Jewish Town, Nove Mesto (New Town); and Mala Strana (Lesser Town). In these districts are concentrated most of the historical monuments, museums, and art galleries.
An exceptional panorama admirably described by Prince William Lobkowicz himself while sipping a flute of champagne, offered as a token of hospitality.
Since the Middle Ages, deemed one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Prague maintains its old charm. The old town, with its winding streets, Romanesque buildings, Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance and Baroque palaces, houses and rooms in Art Nouveau style, declared World Heritage by UNESCO, still retains many buildings’ artistically-valuable testimony of the Slavic German and Hebrew culture.
The old town, Stare Mesto, is one of the architectural jewels of Europe. The heart of the neighborhood is Staromestske Namesti, a square that, since the twelfth century, has been the center of the most important public events. The tourists pass through it daily to reach the famous astronomical clock, but also for the many souvenir shops. The old Town Hall, Radnice, is among the most visited monuments including the most known, Orloj, the astronomical clock in a particular building that dates back to 1410 and consists of two dials with zodiac signs and colors that indicate the phases of the day.
In the context of the historic centers, some prestigiuos hotels are found, including the Augustine of the Rocco Forte Group. A central location retrieved from seven historic buildings, including the Augustine Monastery, a section of it is still in use by nuns. The original structures and old art pieces are preserved wonderfully, and the ambience is lightened by an elegant interior decor inspired by the Czech Cubist movement. A modern spa offers relaxing moments.
Among the hotels of international groups that stand out are the names of Four Seasons, Kempinski, Marriott, Corinthia, Hilton, and Hyatt – not the only 5 stars in the city!
Prague has developed an important MICE activity and has large conference facilities managed by the Prague Convention Bureau, Prague Congress Centre, and International AIM Group in addition to the spaces available in big hotels.
Among the wonders of the past in the capital of Czech, modernism and its numerous museums and art galleries invite a rich cultural life
in New Town Mesto, which in 1348 was designed as the main commercial center of Prague, a feature that is preserved to this day. The vision of Prague outside the ancient districts projects a different image: urban modernity and amplitude. A number of the 500 hotels scattered around the city are located in the Nova City district, as well as shops, business companies, shopping centers, theaters, cinemas, and museums. The heart of the modern and commercial Prague is Václavské Námesti (Wenceslao Square).
The ancient city aligned to our days offers a lively nightlife for all ages. In addition to a wide range of classic theaters, concerts, and international attractions, the Narodni Divadlo (National Opera), is an architectural gem to be included in the program of visits.