The Czech Republic is special, Prague is a magical city, it’s the country of Bohemian culture and more. There are many adjectives attached to this nation in Central Europe with its own distinct culture and West European leanings.
Until just before the Covid days, tourism to the country had reached 20 million out of which about 8 million would head straight to Prague.
The country is divided to the extent that the Bohemians consider themselves different from the Moravians, both of whom live in close brotherhood.
All of the describing words used for this country hold true.
In spite of the wars the nation has seen, it remains remarkably well preserved.
Prague – Life in this city of a 100 spires with its magical vibes goes back more than a 1000 years and the attractions are innumerable, the best of which are the Charles Bridge, the green spaces and the botanical gardens, the architecture, the majestic Wenceslas Square, the festivities by the river fronts, the old town square which goes back to the 12th century, the Opera House, the National Theatre, Vysehrad Garden, the Petrin Hill and the Smetana Hall. Frankly, even this doesn’t cover it. There are many more places to see. Even the New Town or Nove Mesto as it’s called, takes you back to the 14th century. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to say the city is not just captivating, it’s full of splendour and is seductive. It pulsates.
A separate word on the architecture of this city. Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicism, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Functionalism, Communist and present day, all look in kinship and unity with each other.
Just a walk in the medieval cobbled streets, a coffee or a beer (the Czechs are proud of their beers and rightly so) in a wayside cafe, pub or a tavern is a treat in itself.
Most places in Prague have a good mix of locals, expats and tourists.
To give you an example of how addictive the city can be, a senior diplomat I know went into a depression of sorts when it was time to go back to his country on completion of his term. He, after days and days of mulling it over decided to resign, set up a small consultancy firm without much preparation and stayed back. Thankfully for him, he’s doing fine and is happily living out his life here. Most who have lived in Prague do not want to go back.
Telc and Slavonice – About 25 kilometres apart, both of these towns are close to the border with Austria and are on the original trade route to Vienna. Rich in Renaissance buildings most of which are protected as national heritage, the towns are exquisitely well preserved.
While the locals go about their work of welcoming tourists to their establishments or practise their trade of plumbing, masonry, agriculture, etc. many tourists flock to these superbly maintained places.
People go to these towns to enjoy the history, explore the underground tunnels and bask in nature.
Over the last years, these towns and the villages surrounding it have become popular with Austrians who have their homes here and travel back and forth to work, crossing countries each day.
Brno – Cesky Krumlov and Karlovy Vary are frequently written about but Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic deserves more than a mention. This city with a relatively young population due to its various educational institutions and several universities is more than worth a visit. It is also favoured by foreign students who recognise the top-class educational facilities.
The city is both modern and medieval. After visiting the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, the Spilberk Castle, the underground tunnels with what used to be a prison and the museum, head for the pubs to mingle with the locals and foreigners.
The people of Brno enjoy a reputation of being friendly and welcoming.
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