Prague – Twilight to Moon Shadow (16.06.14)
I am writing this blog post from Prague, from the delightful Strahovské nádvoří complex, high above the west bank Malá Stana Lesser Town region, with a warm summer breeze blowing across the city below. To my left, Europe’s second largest castle complex stands proud, enjoying equally impressive views across a sea of terracotta roof tiles, domes and spires to the Old Town.
The feeling is good and summer is nigh.
For five days I’ve been enjoying this historical capital of Bohemia, both as a first-time tourist, and as the business session moderator at AITO’s Travel Agency Conference. Along with my fellow travel industry colleagues even in such a short space of time I have been struck by the charm of the city, the welcoming character of its people and the unique story-telling ambiance that seems to redefine ‘Bohemian’ at every turn.
One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, Prague boasts 1,110 years of history, with a veritable buffet of historical sights and sounds from Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian, to Protestant Reformation.
The city straddles the Vltava River as if stuck in a time-warp, with modern crowds enjoying the bright sunny summer weather against a richly historical backdrop. King Charles IV (1346-1378), memorialised in the city’s most famous majestic medieval stone Charles Bridge, is as present as the myriad of modern memorabilia ranging from John Lennon Wall to the Cold War memorials; these and equally disparate historical monuments form the setting for the city’s high energy levels, with its vibrant nightlife, buzzing café culture and inexhaustible supply of big-screen film sets (Casino Royal, Mission Impossible and Blade II, among others).
The first day I arrived, the Old Town drew me in like a magnet. After an afternoon’s self-led city-orientation-wander, I found myself spellbound later on as the gloriously hot and steamy summer evening gave way to the most amazingly inky night, with a pearl-bright full moon. Walking until the early hours, I was rapt by the shimmering river, distant castle, tangle of streets, squares and back allies. All bathed in moonlight like soft city street lighting.
Prague I am sure has never appeared so seductive, with jovial locals and out-of-town visitors soaking up the warm twilight, followed by glorious moonlit night. Drawn to the buzz of the outside street-life, everyone seemed mesmerised, like fireflies on a gentle breeze. It was a far cry from its former ‘stag & hen party’ reputation, from which the city is now successfully distancing itself.
I hope that these images (taken from the castle battlements high above the city, and as I walked through the Old Town) convey the seductive summer’s night. Certainly the mixture of images – a hot air balloon, evening river bustle, midnight trams, moon coloured clocks, lovers and Baroque statues watching the moon’s reflection off Charles Bridge – show what a stunning backdrop the Old Town buildings, churches, spires, squares and streets offer.
Whether looking for a weekend escape or a longer trip to include the surrounding area, I highly recommend Prague. In addition to many Nomadic Thoughts’ clients who have enjoyed the city over the years, I guarantee it will not be long before you feel totally at home among the thousands of spires, years of history and gentle summer evenings.
If you can plan it around the moon shadows, so much the better.