From Iron Curtain to Velvet Revolution, a Tour of Communist Prague (3 Hours )

Prague, Czech Republic

Tour Features

Experience(s)

  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Sightseeing

Meals

None

Recommended Ages

12 and Above

Activity Level

Moderate

Description

In 1948, as the dust of World War II settled across Europe, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC), staged a coup, seized power in Prague, and transformed the country into a Communist state. With the strong backing (financial and political) of the USSR, Czechoslovakia remained behind the so-called Iron Curtain of Europe until the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

During this three-hour tour across Prague, in the company of a historian, we'll trace the history of Communism through the 20th century, stopping at a number of key monuments and civic spaces that mark this tumultuous, traumatic period. We'll look at the rise of the KSC through the early part of the century and its rule. We'll discuss the role of the Soviets, particularly in the wake of Prague Spring of 1968 when Warsaw Pact troops invaded the country to staunch liberal reforms.

Our walk will begin at the Vitkov hill, a key monument in Prague where the gigantic equestrian statue of Jan Zizka, a heroic defender of Prague against Catholic forces in the 15th century and symbol of Czech independence, looks down over the city. Nearby, we'll visit the Mausoleum of Klement Gottwald, the first communist Czechoslovak president, and discuss its symbolic location here (and abundance of over-the-top decoration), meant to connect Communist Prague with Czech pride and identity. Several other Socialist Realist statues of key figures from mid-century Prague will also allow us to discuss the broader connections between the KSC and its Soviet backers.

We'll move on from here down into central Prague, taking a streetcar and using that time to look at some historic maps, archival images, and other supporting historical information to flesh out our portrait of Communist Prague. We'll spend some time in Wenceslas Square, a critical gathering place during the unsuccessful reform period of 1968, known at the Prague Spring, and the successful capitulation of Communism in 1989, known as the Velvet Revolution. Here we'll look at some key monuments, such as the Jalta Hotel, National Museum, and former Communist Parliament. We'll look closely at the events of 1968 and piece together the events that lead to the Soviet crackdown and subsequent period of Normalisation.

Our course may take us to Narodny Street nearby where student demonstrations in 1989 added fuel to revolutionary fires that eventually brought down Communism and restored Czech democracy. We'll look, here, at the role of the intelligensia and the figures of Kundera, Havel, and other artists and writers prominent to the revolution.

At the end of our time together we'll emerge with a fuller understanding of the Communist history of Czechoslovakia and its lasting impact on Prague. Through dialogue with our historian docent we'll have the opportunity ask lots of questions and get a firmer grip on how the Cold War played out in Prague and led, eventually, to today's liberal democracy.

Please note that our visit to the Vitkov does require uphill walking that may not be suitable for individuals with walking difficulties. If you feel that this may be an issue, please consult our office on how we can customize the walk to your needs.

About Us

The Context vision is to create an atmosphere—a context, if you will—for curious travelers to engage with local experts; to give them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight to the casual visitor; to invite them off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and heritage that make these cultural capitals amazing. With no more than six people, you'll participate in an intimate, hands-on, conversational experience. No Tour Guides - Our docents are first and foremost scholars or specialists, with MAs, Ph.D.s, or other terminal degrees in their fields of study.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our docent, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the docent. No shows are treated as last-minute cancellations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within three business days need to be made by phone to the emergency number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellations within three business days made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored. Other terms and conditions may apply.



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By: Joe C


Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2018

Without question they did a superb job.

"The Great European Tour"

By: MJ


Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2018

The trip was our first experience with Context and it was amazing!
Travel Advisor:  Donna Peacock