Beautiful, Intense, Mysterious Prague2 minute read
Prague is a magical city: take the time to
wander around its alleys, bridges, and squares and you will soon find out about
its many mysteries.
The Capital city of the Czech Republic is a treasure trove of history and tales.
Founded where an ancient prophetess had decreed, it includes four areas, which were four different towns originally: Old Town, Little Town, Castle Town, and New Town. Each one has a distinctive atmosphere and a cherished identity. The Moldova river flows across the city and sixteen bridges cast above its waters lend Prague a dream-like beauty. The most popular bridge is the one entitled to Charles IV, built in 1357, and flanked by many statues, whose silhouettes against the sky are solemn and strange at twilight; no wonder they are the subjects of so many legends. For example, the statue of Saint John of Nepomuk, one of the patron saints of the Czech, is said to be utterly miraculous. When, in 1393, king Wenceslas IV had John tortured and thrown into the river for thwarting some of his ambitions, it is said that stars were seen on the water where his body was to be found. Still, today, touching his statue brings luck and ensures you will go back to Prague.
Prague was also the city of alchemy and Kabbalah. Emperors, scholars, and magicians converged here.
Although the city had always had occult associations, its esoteric Golden Age is probably connected to the Habsburg Emperor Rudolph II (1552-1612), who moved its court from the hated Vienna to his beloved Bohemian center. At his court scientists and magicians mingled daily. The Emperor himself was a passionate alchemist. His patronage attracted many occultists, such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, the renowned alchemists, and magicians from England. Still today, many places in town are credited with being the location of alchemical secret work, from Faust House to the Golden Lane. The former is associated with the legend of the alchemist Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in order to have knowledge and riches. Even if Faust may not even have visited Prague, this baroque building has a history of being inhabited by various famous alchemists. The Golden Lane, also known as Alchemists’ Alley, is a famous alley in Prague, behind the castle, where the small houses can still be seen. It was built in the 16th century for Rudolph II’s castle guards but in the following century, it hosted goldsmiths. Some of the houses have preserved their wooden interiors and tools. At no. 22, the writer Franz Kafka lived for some time in 1916.
Maybe the most suggestive of all legends is the one concerning Rabbi Low and his creation of the Golem. It is told that he created a monster with a human appearance from clay and animated him with magical words. It is rumored he may still be wandering across the Jewish Graveyard, which by itself is one of the best-kept areas in the Jewish ghetto. It bears witness to the long history and trials of the Jewish people. Visitors go there to write a prayer and put it under a stone, making a wish. There you can also see The Children's Museum and learn about Jewish history and the Holocaust.
These are just a few of the many legends about Prague, the Golden Town. If you want to know the city beyond the tourist trails, take your time and walk across its winding streets and alleys, and watch and listen to its stones with reverence. They will reveal to you their ancient history.