In the course of this three-hour walk we’ll focus on the figure of Charles IV (1346 - 1378), the 14th century Holy Roman Emperor who centered his empire in Prague and re-made it as a Paris-style cultural capital. We start up at Prague Castle, which overlooks the river and the rest of the city. Although predating Charles, much of this structure was reworked by him, including St. Vitus Chapel, a masterwork of Gothic architecture.
We'll zoom in on Prague as we walk down from the castle, as our course takes us across the Charles Bridge, a Gothic masterpiece that was central to Charles’ re-building of Prague. We’ll use this as an opportunity to look at Charles’ plan for the city, which resulted in the construction of New Town and continues to guide the shape and energy of the city today. We’ll also look at how the era of Charles IV was seen later as a “Golden Age” of Bohemian self-rule in opposition to the flaunted opulence of Prague’s Baroque churches and palaces erected by the Hapsburg Dynasty centuries later.
On to the winding streets of the Old Town we'll see how the city looked before Charles’ arrival and focus on the political, social, and economic complexities of the city’s multicultural past. We’ll pass by the Carolinum, the university founded by Charles IV in the 1370s and visit some of its extant structures from that period, including the lovely Gothic “Oriel” window. We’ll look at how Charles envisioned Prague as a city of learning and attracted intellectuals from all over Europe, establishing a tradition that would extend over centuries and encompassing the likes of Mozart, Nazi resistance, and the Velvet Revolution.
By the end of the walk, you will come away with a clear sense of how Prague flourished under the reign of Charles, providing a great base from which to explore later time periods in the city's history.