Monday, December 1, 2008

I've never been one for cities, but...

...Prague isn't really a city. It's more like your playful, eccentric grandfather who always seems to have surprises for you. Prague is old, and it's been through its share of historical calamity. It was a Hapsburg backwater for much of its modern life, playing second fiddle to Vienna. Then it was the first land invaded by Hitler on his path to WWII, and it fiercely resisted hardline communist rule after the war (at least most of the time). The recent bout with Communism defines much of its current political personality, as the scars are still very recent. Yet Prague has recovered more remarkably than I could imagine possible, and I found myself on many occasions pondering the difference between Prague and Sofia. While Sofia has a penchant for gray block buildings, Prague revels in its colorful facades, ornate stonework, and has developed a brilliantly ironic perspective on its history. Irony reigns in Bulgaria, too, but without the marionette shops, puppets, or blacklight theaters. There is, if I can steal from a certain Czech author, a certain lightness of being in Prague that we found seductive. And while I found myself missing my students on vacation (and even received a Thanksgiving e-card from one of them!), the town was ample distraction, and a healthy dose of old Europe. Aside from the scenes you see below, my favorite part was actually the Museum of Communism, to which Betsy dragged me reluctantly. I'm now thinking of creating an elective for next year on Czech literature and history based on what I saw there. The average Czech's response to Communism is inspiring. By the way, if you're interested in seeing more pictures, I can send you a link to an online gallery. Just let me know.

Tyn Church above the Christmas Market,which was just being constructed when we arrived

The Astrological Clock, which is set in motion every hour by "Death" who flips his hourglass and starts ringing his little bell.

He ALMOST smiled.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

Outside St. Peter's, at night. Not sure what setting my camera was on, but it's actually granite, not gold.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the immense "golden" edifice is a long way from a manger, isn't it. I appreciate the spectrum of subjects you find, Brett, and the way you bring them to these eyes. Thank you, again. love from jm