Among my all-time favorite photographs, this one is the oldest, dating from our first trip to Prague over a decade ago.
I fell in love with the city and to this day consider it the most beautiful in the world. I suspect there is not a significant number of people who would argue that Prague does not belong in any discussion of the most visually attractive cities.
Karlův Most – that’s Charles Bridge in English – is one of Prague’s signature landmarks. I crossed it on foot at least a dozen times and seemingly always had to weave my way in and out of the crowds. There are street painters and musicians, souvenir stalls, statues that need to be rubbed for luck – in other words, tons of impediments to both movement and enjoyment of the views. Any competent photographer will tell you that for best access to famous landmarks you have to visit them at dawn, before crowds arrive. But for me, it was not much about photography back then – I simply wanted to have the bridge plausibly to myself for at least a bit of time.
So, on our day of departure, Natasha and I got up around 5am and walked to the bridge amidst still sleeping city. When we got there, we were not the first to arrive: A few of those competent photographers already were stationed at their chosen points. We might have walked into some of their shots, since our goal was to re-acquaint ourselves with the entire bridge sans crowds. Which we did.
I believe I have taken only three photographs on that morning walk. But one of them was this perspective near the Little Quarter end of the bridge.
It so perfectly summarizes what I like about Old World’s architectural beauty that I lack words to properly explain it. There need to be spires and domes. There needs to be discernible scent of history. There needs to be eye-catching color. There needs to be a barely-concealed invitation to walk further – down a passage, under an arch, up the street – and find further delights. All of that is present in this picture for me.
Looking at it, I remember Prague as a place that enchanted me and invited me to come back and explore more. Given that both of my visits to the city were harmonized with tenth birthdays of my elder children, there is an excellent chance that I will set foot in Prague again in about 4 years’ time at the latest.