PRAGUE

and its lost identity

`I do not have to travel anymore. I just visit Prague city´ said the production manager of a factory an hour drive from Prague in Czech Republic.


I know what he means. I have seen the streets. Prague has on first eye nothing to do with Czech Republic.


What you see are shops, Hamleys toyshop (is that not English? oh, yes), Paul baguetterie (ah, oui, from France). Starbucks is just everywhere. A very strange phenomenon: a Russian dolls shop, and these Russian dolls are very Russian (´No, this has nothing to do with Czech, Russian dolls are for tourists, it is stupid´ according the production manager).


The street looks like an amusement park. You see a chocolate experience hall, a wax figure exhibition of famous people from the US. You see street artists dressed as an enormous polar bear which you can take a picture with, if you donate some small money.

´Tourist season is all your round nowadays´ and you hear all languages, mostly English.

In the production facility the history of Czech republic in pictures represents the route and the proud of the people. There are typical expressions in the language that tells history is where you come from and these are your roots. People celebrate history and feel proud of themselves because of what they accomplished in the past. Medals are kept. People earned a medal in 1990. That is still valid. And still mentioned if a visitor comes with great proud and honor and name mentioning of the people involved.


In the pictures on the wall…you see a stride for identity. The coup in 1948, the communist era until 1989 (end of communism, as in other parts of Europe). Czech people are released from Russia, from the red burden, communist thoughts and restrictions. That is why they are transforming rapidly towards European norms and society. Western shops are greeted. Streets are full of icons and symbols of a liberated country. They feel they kept their identity by choosing to embrace the world and transform the streets into a tourist heaven.


And although this is all very modern, they claim it is because of their high respect towards history and tradition.


I walk in the inner city of Prague thinking how this fits.


And then I see the statues


The statues from before any of the shops, any of the tourists, any of the communists, well before anyone or everything over the 16th century. The statues are admired by tourists, they are restored if needed. They are on pictures by photographers from all over the world.


And it strikes me.


The statue I am looking at is dominant, upright. And if I follow the look on the statue´s face it looks at a cathedral with two high spiked towers. And then I realize. The maker of this statue looked at these lines, this is on purpose. And the dominant position and the strength of this mark in this centerfold of the inner city, is still there. The maker is long dead…people came and went…and yet to me very much alive. I can still see. All tourists still see this and in one way or the other see this is inner Prague.

I have found the true identity of Prague city.