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  • amandapopken

The Decorative Sidewalks of Prague

In Prague last May I was struck by the beauty of the Old Town historic architecture, simply designed pedestrian streets, and plazas. With dynamic examples of fine craftsmanship in this beautiful city, what struck me the most were the sidewalks. Once I began to take notice I realized there was incredible variety in patterns and stones.

How did this city incentivize builders to add this expensive, seemingly unimportant detail? I somehow doubt the City orchestrated such elaborate variety. Perhaps it's a result of wanting to outshine a neighboring building?

If one were constructing a monument to their fame, fortune, or success in business in the most important city in the Holy Roman Empire, perhaps no expensive detail could be spared!

A bit of historical context:

King Charles IV of Luxemburg (who was originally christened Wenceslas) was the first ruler of Bohemia to become King of the Romans, and after his coronation in Rome in1355, Holy Roman Emperor. He had established the first university in all of Central Europe in Prague in 1348 among other notable acts to strengthen the prestige of the bohemian state. He chose Prague as his residence until he died in 1378. Prague was the capital of the Lands of Bohemian Crown which remained in the same territorial form until 1635. King Charles' Golden Bull for the Empire (1355) stipulated the kingdom's relationship with the empire, such that the ruler of Bohemia was first among the empire's electors. Some of the articles remained in place through 1806 when the Holy Roman Empire fell.

It begs the question, in my mind: Do we now simply lack the pride of place and wealth of enterprise to feel compelled to build elaborate monuments that will remain icons through the centuries?

It's a marvel. If those days have past, at least we can thank those successful businessmen and rulers for their pride and the value they placed on artistic beauty.

Here are a few more photos, to give a sense of the elaborate architecture and pedestrian detail of the city to which these sidewalks belong.

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