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A Velvet Prague

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Prague—the mental prison of novelist Frank Kafka, residual soviet architecture, and a city with a shattered identity. Is it similar to rundown Bratislava? Is it as eclectic as Budapest or as opulent as Moscow? This photo-essay reveals pieces of Prague’s stories that can be read on the facades of its buildings, towers, bridges and passages.

I had heard about the events of the Velvet Revolution—a non violent revolution which overthrew the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Since then the city of Prague has evolved. But to my family, Prague is a rather secretive, decadent and still closed-off city. However the best way to describe the city is through one word: velvet.

The spatial dimension of Prague is varied, controversial, enticing and as rich as Baroque’s setting, placed on a 80’s post-socialist plateau. But walking past its cobbled streets and spires, beyond the golden and serpentine’s domes, one can discover yet another Prague. Its many bridges blend different neighborhoods into one another, displaying how Prague peacefully merges its many layers. It is a city which does not conceal, but revisits its own most oppressive past.

Prague is also a city that is learning how to incorporate different cultures in its own complex reality by adopting foreign languages, making businesses and events more inclusive and improving living standards.

But the road is still long and more transitions are needed in the political sphere and mindsets of the people in order to truly let the curtain falls over this beautiful velvet space.

“Riverside”
Riverside Praha-Karlin: An example of soviet architecture which now serves as a building for hotels and offices.The hotel was built in 1989, designed by architect Stanislav Franc
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The Palac built in 1929 by the Prague Expressionist architect Paul Sydow, nowadays hosts several gourmet restaurants and fashion ateliers shop.
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Hotel President and intercontinental Praha-Josefov is a magnificent example of the brutal architecture of the 70's in Prague. Usually, Intercontinental hotels are known to be very beautiful. But the one of Prague has a very communist style—all square, no color, and super symmetrical.
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A reflection of buildings in Namesti Republiky, the city square in Prague .

Photo Credits: Juliet

Cover Photo: Amélie Tagu