I knew something Kafkaesque had to happen on this trip.
After traveling 4 thousand miles, we learned that Prague Orloj was under repair.
Mounted in the Old Town Hall, the medieval astronomical clock is the world’s oldest still in operation.
Luckily, there’s not a shortage of sights in this gorgeous Eastern European city (mostly) spared by air raid bombings in WW2.
Just a glance around Old Town Square will treat you with precious landmarks, including the Gothic Church of Our Lady and the statue of Jan Hus.
From Old Town Square, a 6-minute walk will take you to the Gothic Powder Tower.
The Tower connects the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter through the Charles Bridge across the Vltava River.
The medieval bridge has witnessed floods, revolts and occupations during its prolonged existence.
It is also the site of religious statues, including St. Ivo, St. Francis of Assisi and (a rather interesting one) “The Crucifix and Calvary.”
A prime example of Medieval European antisemitism, the golden Hebrew text on the crucifix was added in 1696 as a punishment for blasphemy charges against Jewish politician Elias Backoffen.
The statue was a good reminder to turn towards the Old Town and visit Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter.
Jews were forced to resettle in this ghetto beginning in the 13th century.
During the Nazi occupation, Hitler decided to preserve the area as a “Museum of an Extinct Race.”
The Jewish Quarter is also the birthplace of the legendary Bohemian Jewish novelist and short-story writer Franz Kafka.
It is more than fitting that a Franz Kafka bronze statue by Czech artist Jaroslav Róna stands here since 2003.
The artwork depicts the author riding on the shoulders of a headless figure, which references the 1912 story “Description of a Struggle.”
Back in the Lesser Quarter, we strolled the beautiful streets, full of charming cafes, restaurants and random antique automobiles parked on picturesque corners.
We hopped on the Prague Metro to get to the New Town, where a system of modern cable cars contrasted the cobblestoned streets.
In 1996, the Dancing House, known as “Fred and Ginger” (after American entertainers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), was built.
Standing on the location of a house destroyed by the US bombing of Prague in 1945, it houses corporate offices, a hotel and condominium apartments.
Last but not least, we visited the magnificent Prague Castle.
Built in the 9th century as a church and convent, subsequent monarchs fortified it.
After a fire and a period in which it remained vacant, the building was rebuilt in Renaissance style—only to be dilapidated and looted in subsequent revolts and invasions.
In 1918, it became a presidential palace for the new Czechoslovak Republic.
Adolf Hitler himself spent a night after the Nazi occupation—followed by a period in which it served as the headquarters of the Reich.
In 1948, the Castle housed the offices of the communist Czechoslovak government.
In 1993, after it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the Castle became the seat of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic.
The world’s largest ancient castle also houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels.
According to a popular legend, usurpers who place the Bohemian crown on their heads are cursed with imminent death.
Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich “Protector” of Bohemia and Moravia during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in WW2, ignored the warning.
Less than a year later, Slovak and Czech resistance fighters ambushed and killed him on his way to the castle.