Marcin Konkel

Praha (ne)známá

"Praha neznámá" is a series of projects by Petr Ryska - including a website, an Instagram account and, quite recently, a book. Petr on everyday basis is discovering a bit different side of Prague. The one that is less known yet well deserving attention. During my last weekend in the capital of Czech Republic I revisited some places and found few new inspirations as well.

Rediscovering what you have seen can be an exhilarating experience. Not only because you have changed, people have changed but also, at times, due to the change in surroundings. Instead of rushing to many places to get the most of my stay I've taken some time off. No rush, just letting myself experience the city. I was afraid that I will not get enough material that would satisfy my never-ending thirst for better shots yet, having sat down to developing the photos, I was positively surprised.. Read on!

PRAGUE / A dog in a window.

Together with Andrzej we've chosen the overnight rail connection from Warsaw and arrived in the early morning when it was pouring rain. We've transported ourselves to an Airbnb apartment in Žižkov. A rather larger place that I highly recommend. I love spending time in this district. I has so much to offer and experience - with good connections everywhere, pubs, restaurants, artistic life, a huge park and being minutes away from main railway station and Wenceslas Square.

I know that for some I may be mono-thematic with this. I am sure other places in Prague may be as entertaining for one as Žižkov but, frankly, I don't care. When we visited a couch surfing party in one of the cafes I was talking to one of the participants who was quite surprised with my fondness. She said that every other district is way better then the one we've chosen. That people there are not friendly and steal cars. Damn. We're living in two different worlds I thought to myself.

PRAGUE / View on the city from Riegrovy Sady park on a sunny day.
PRAGUE / Mánesův bridge with Žižkov television tower in the back.

This trip was unconsciously dedicated to good coffee, beer, panoramas, people and.. patterns. The first was a positive surprise and one had rather beer on his mind as this is the capital of the world in terms of lager beer. Craft beer is strong as well but USA, UK and Poland are really strong as well. Sometimes better - sorry Czech Republic. That's just the way it is. The things that are hard to be caught by the eye are the experiences. I haven't been to the States but the experience of drinking beer in Poland, UK (and few others) is vastly different then in Czech Republic. I'm fond of UK and Czech especially as they put their minds and hearts to it. Won't spend much time on comparing them - you'll have to check by yourself.

I can recommend four places where the comparison is most visible for me:

Prague - u Zlatého tygraU Parlamentu

London - BrewDog ShoreditchThe Blackfriars Nicolson's Pub

Go. See. Drink. Period.

PRAGUE / People having lunch at Old Town Square (cz. Staroměstské náměstí).
PRAGUE / A beggar.Beggars are ubiquitous. They often hold the pose visible in the photograph. You can find them mainly in the old parts of Prague where there are plenty of tourists and the streets are bustling.
PRAGUE / A woman taking a photograph of David Černý's "Crawling Babies".

Prague is crowded. Especially during the summer. An obvious statement that some may resent. In the popular places it may be hard to concentrate on details when we pay attention not to stumble over someone or being aware of pick-pockets. Yet there is much to see in between. Same as we read in between the lines we can read in between buildings, their details, patterns or peoples's gestures. Those await us around the world and may be expressed directly as well as indirectly. A mix of both you'll find in Prague.

PRAGUE / A staircase on one of the stations.
PRAGUE / A mural.
PRAGUE / A mural in Žižkov.

All in all, beauty is in the eye of beholder. Prague artistically-wise is has a healthy distance towards things that are shown to the public. An example would be, of course, David Černý with many of his works might bring distaste to some. Like the two gents pissing on a map of Prague and, at the same time, writing poems in the water. You can send a text message, they will "write it down" as well. It seems that Czechs have different approach to thinking about their country than, for instance, Poland. 

The poster shows Václav Havel and quotes "Pravda a láska musí zvítězit nad lží a nenávistí" which means "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred".

I was thinking about how to recap this post and not much came to my mind. I found a poster from a Polish cafe in Karkonosze mountains on Václav Havel - one of the best politicians in Europe and certainly an interesting personality and a good human being. The poster shows Václav and quotes "Pravda a láska musí zvítězit nad lží a nenávistí" which means "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred". You can read more on him in a book by Michael Zantovsky titled "Havel: A Life" on Amazon. As the book states:

"Václav Havel was one of the most prominent figures of the twentieth century: iconoclast and intellectual, renowned playwright turned political dissident, president of a united then divided nation, and dedicated human rights activist. Written by Michael Zantovsky—Havel’s former press secretary, advisor, and longtime friend—Havel: A Life presents a revelatory portrait of this giant among men and the turbulent times through which he prevailed."

If you want to learn more on the history and culture of Czech Republic you cannot miss authors such as Mariusz SzczygiełBohumil Hrabal, Václav Havel or an artist Alphonse Mucha. There are many more but that, in my opinion, is a good start.

See more photographs from Prague below or click on the slideshow to see in higher resolution.


PS. If you visit the apartment we were staying in, you've got a riddle to solve. There are three photographs in different frames next to the window in the main room. We've added and extra one after our stay thus making it four photographs. If you see them try to answer the question what connects them together? What's the story behind all of them? Do share your thoughts in comments below.