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Krásný Prague: Architectural Gems in the "City of 100 Spires"
“Prague is one of the most haunted cities in the world,” says our guide Irina, who shows us the gems of the city of 100 spires on an early morning walking tour. Every building seemed to brush its pointed head with a tangle of clouds and mist-- an impressionist’s dream. The Moldau or Vlatva in Czech, means “wild river,” but that seems a misnomer, particularly today. It is calm and silvery, and neatly bisects the Old and New quarters, and dotted with passenger boats and barges bearing the “Budweiser” sign (it is a Czech beer, after all). Even in this dreary weather, Charles Bridge, built in 1357 by King Charles IV did not disappoint. “Unfortunately King Charles did not see its completion,” Irina laments, but all of us in our group agree that this stone structure, flanked by some 30 graceful but often terrifying statues (now all replicas), is as cinematic as a Miloš Forman film. Prague is also a city of Art Nouveau buildings, a style that shows a masterful fusion of period architecture. In one building “you can find a Gothic basement, Renaissance walls, and Rococo roofs,” Irina tells us. My favorite building, the Rococo-style Kinský Palace at Old Town Square, is part of the National Gallery. As I walk on the cobblestones towards it, I notice a plaque that says, “Franz Kafka’s father had his haberdashery here.” Even in the middle of one of the busiest squares in the city, I had found something that took me by surprise, something the guidebooks had not mentioned.
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