We recently spent 3 days in the amazing city of Prague. During our time there…
Franz Kafka was born in Prague to a middle-class Jewish family, in what was then the Kingdom of Bohemia a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. His passion was writing and he penned many novels and short stories in his short life and became widely recognized as a major figure in 20th- century literature. His work, which fuses elements of realism and the fantastic, typically features isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments and incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers and has been interpreted as exploring themes of alienation, existential anxiety, guilt, and absurdity.
He trained as a lawyer and after completing his legal education was employed full-time by an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He never got married but had some tempestuous relationships with women and got as far as getting engaged on more than one occasion. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.
The Kafka Museum is set in a small courtyard in the centre of which is the most unusual of statues – which as far as I can tell is nothing to do with Kafka, apart from being a homage to his anti-establishmentarianism.
Created by the artist David Cerny’s and installed in 2004 the sculpture consist of two bronze men who waggle their manhood around to spell out messages with their pee. The figures are made of rippling, serrated bronze, looking as though they were crafted from stacked slices of metal. Whilst the figures look to be going aimlessly about their business, they are actually programmed to spell out Czech literary quotes. Bringing this installation into the 20th Century they have enabled anyone to send their own quotes to be peed out by sending a message via text message to a number (+420 724 370 770) on a plaque near the statue. The statues will interrupt their programmed movement and spell out the words sent to them.
While it might be hard to look away from the swaying metal genitals, the basin the figures relieve themselves into is itself worth noting, as it is shaped like a map of Czechia. These guys aren’t just peeing into a fountain, but onto the country itself. Provocative – yes!
The museum is dedicated to the life and works of the legendary Kafka. The first gallery really helps set his life into context with a timeline of his short life and a family tree. There is also a short multimedia film that tells the story of Prague in the early 20th century and the role the Jewish community played in it.
The rest of the exhibits tell the story of Kafka’s education as a lawyer and his time working for the insurance company and how this experience paved the way for the development of his major works, including “The Metamorphosis”. Many of Kafka’s first editions and his letters, manuscripts, photographs and drawings are housed in the museum.
Whether you are a fan of Kafka, a lover of literature or simply interested to find out about a major figure in Prague’s artistic community then this museum is worth a visit. The displays are simple but informative and the galleries are well laid out and captivating. It took us about 90 minutes to work our way through and we were taking our time to read all the pieces on show and spending time with each of the five main multimedia exhibits. It is also centrally located in the Lesser Town close to the St Charles bridge – so getting there is a doddle.
One thing to note photography in the museum is not allowed. The photographs below are from the tourist websites for Prague (hence no one is in them!)
Planning your visit to the Kafka Museum
|Address:||Cihelná 2b, 118 00 Prague 1 – Lesser Town|
|Opening hours:||Daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.|
|Admission fees:||CZK 260. Reduced fees for children, seniors and students|
Guided tour prices: entrance fee + CZK 800
Best time to visit the Czech Republic
Peak tourist season in the Czech Republic coincides with the summer months when temperatures are pleasantly warm and humid with occasional thunderstorms. Between May and September the Czech Republic is at its busiest with major festivals held at this time to benefit from the good weather.
The early spring months of March and April can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather. The winter snows are beginning to melt and temperatures begin to rise above freezing but it can still be quite chilly with strong winds. The autumn months of October and November can be equally as unpredictable with temperatures starting to drop although the countryside comes alive with colour.
Winters in the Czech Republic are cold, cloudy, icy and wet with freezing temperatures. It’s still possible to visit most of the country’s monuments though opening hours are reduced.
Vegan dining ideas
1. VEGAN’S PRAGUE
Vegan’s Prague is found in a 16th-century building near Prague Castle on Nerudova street. It is a narrow building with the restaurant located on the first and second floors (second and third floors for my American friends), which are accessed with a steep and winding staircase. There is no elevator so disabled access is almost impossible.
Our favourite areas in the restaurant were the top floor, with its sloping roof, and from there the terrace which has a spectacular view across to Prague Castle.
The top floor room has exposed beams with simple furnishings and gets ample light from the numerous skylights that have been put into the roof.
The outdoor terrace is simply the best place to be. It is small and intimate, with only about four tables, so you will have to be lucky to get a table there.
Located close to the historic Old Town Square in Prague, Forkys is a vegan bistro with international recipes, serving breakfast until 11 am, then burgers, kebab, hot dogs, bowls, and a daily menu. This is a great place to grab a quick bite to eat, with great energy to boot. I loved the wall at the entrance that lists all the famous people who have been vegan, dating from ancient Rome to the present day.
Small takeaway health food bistro in the city centre since 2017. The menu is based raw vegan and cooked vegan cuisine. Serves lemonade, smoothies, milkshakes, raw spreads on sourdough, veggie wraps, summer rolls, salads, and raw desserts.
Where to stay
1. U PÁVA
For our stay in Prague, we wanted to stay close to the city centre as we planned to walk everywhere. After looking around on hotel booking websites I decided to book a room at U Páva – which means ‘At the Peacock’ in Czech. The hotel is ideally placed to explore the surrounding markets, museums and historic buildings of Mala Strana, but it’s also just a 15-minute stroll across the bridge to the Old Town. It is only a 10-minute walk to Prague Castle.
U Páva is an intimate four-star hotel, located right next to Charles bridge, offering 26 romantically inclined rooms in a historical building, parts of which date back to the late 15th century.
2. BOAT HOTEL MATYLDA
For something more unusual you should consider Boat Hotel Matylda.
Lying at anchor on the Vltava river in the centre of Prague, 0.6 miles from the Charles Bridge and a 10-minute stroll from the Charles Square
Standard double rooms are situated on the original Matylda boat. This boat also has a bar and the well-known restaurant with a summer terrace serving Italian cuisine. The other rooms are to be found on the newer Klotylda boat.
Each of the cabins on the two boats features an elegant interior design with hardwood floors. Some have their own private balcony and dark leather armchairs.
The Boat Hotel is situated in the vicinity of the famous Dancing House, right next to the tram stop Jiraskovo namesti and 1,000 feet away from Karlovo namesti metro station.
3. CHARLES BRIDGE HOSTEL & APARTMENTS
For the more budget-conscious the Charles Bridge Hostel and Apartments is a good option
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel is a small boutique guesthouse located in the very heart of the historic centre of Prague, right at the Charles Bridge. All important sights are within walking distance of the property. The building comes from the 14th century and belongs to protected cultural heritage.
Rooms and dorms are fully furnished and have been recently remodelled. A kitchen is located on all floors and inside all private rooms. Bedsheets, linen, towels and toiletries are provided free of charge.
Charles Bridge Economic Hostel provides free tours daily at 6 pm, as well as a free Ghost Tour. Luggage storage is available for free. The laundry facility and dryer is available for an extra fee.