As real travel would neither be safe nor legal, I’m indulging in photo-travel by using Becky’s Squares Challenge (Up) as an excuse to revisit our brief trip to Prague in January two years ago.
1. (Layered up) Locals and visitors have been adding slogans, quotes, I-was-heres and drawings to The Lennon Wall since the singer’s death. The wall has always been controversial, so authorities and activists have often covered up the colours with fresh layers of paint, to find it quickly filled with artwork and slogans again. It is now protected by new rules (no spraying) while cameras help enforce the theme of peace and love.
2. (Looking up) A statue of St John of Nepomuk on Charles Bridge honours his bravery in protecting details of the Queen of Bohemia’s confession from the King, and consequently being hurled into the river in chains. Tourists are supposed to touch an image of him falling as a good luck charm.
But my reference is to the dog looking up at its master in one of the metal panels under the statue. It’s rubbed golden because people like stroking dogs, even though no myth is attached to it.
3. (Sliced up) Prague has many examples of David Cerny’s public art, including this revolving head of Franz Kafka. The slices move round in an abstract way until they come together to reveal the face.
4. (Upscale) The Art Nouveau entrance to Smetana Hall, a concert venue, is so ornamental, it’s hard to focus on any one feature.
5. (Up on the wall) Prague’s Old Town buildings include examples of sgraffito, which is made by scratching away layers of coloured plaster to reveal a different coloured ground. This is the House Under A Minute, where Kafka lived as a child.
6. (Gussied up – with thanks to Margaret for reminding me of the word) Unesco have protected the gilded facade of the V.J. Rott building which is now occupied by the Hard Rock Cafe.
7. (Sup up) We took our custom instead to a micro brewery. The beer family tree on the wall including my sweetheart’s favourite, Dark roses. I liked the way spaces had been left for new creations.
8. (Propped up) Dancing House has been nicknamed Fred and Ginger. To me, it looks more like one building is propping the other up or has been captured in the aftermath of saving them from the tram.
9. (Hanging up) Another curiosity by David Cerny, Man Hanging Out represents Sigmund Freud hanging by one hand from a rooftop. A half full / half empty idea, we may see this as hopeful (he has not fallen) or despairing. I have never been overly keen on Freud, but I am sorry to see him dangling. Several people have tried to help the statue, mistaking it for a person in need.
10. (Loved up) This is the Čertovka love bridge in the Malá Strana district of Prague, near The Lennon Wall. It’s another controversial idea, as the combined weight of the locks can eventually cause structural problems.
11. (Sprouting up) I love to see ecclesiastical carvings of natural things. I think this is the only time I’ve seen a clump of mushrooms immortalised in stone. Very fine mushrooms, too.
12. (Covered up) My favourite balcony in Prague is very petite, with a slender, gently sweeping canopy of the style often found in the city.
Though I’m late to Becky’s party, I’ve made a decent stab at catching up. In looking back over my pictures, I’ve concluded that I’ve been nowhere that more richly repays looking up than does Prague, and nowhere half as decorative.