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Chosen articles 11.12.2013
Prague has majesty and charm that embraces visitors through its beautiful architecture and the warmth of the people. To fully appreciate it, there are few more effective ways of engaging the city than to simple walk through it. But rather than taking just any walk, why not walk in the footsteps of kings and stroll the Royal Route of Prague.
Although the Royal Route was not that of kings, it was that of those that would be kings. The Royal Route is the traditional path taken by the monarch apparent on their way to be crowned. It took the next king through the streets of Prague, to each of the major centers and allowed the people to see their new ruler in the flesh. For many this would be one of the few occasions when they would be able to catch such a personal experience of their sovereign.
While the Royal Route was known well by the locals, for the sake of the tourists it is now marked out with silver arrows. The trek begins at the Prasna Brana (Powder Tower), which was one of the original gates of the Old Town. Taking a moment to survey the scene before them, the monarch would be met by their adoring subjects in the way that Albert II of Habsburg did in 1438 as the first monarch to tread the route.
From there he moved in regal splendor and at a noble pace along Celetna Street. Among the exquisite and ornate buildings dating back centuries in their style and design, today’s visitors will come across the influence of the cubist artists. Cubist art took hold of Prague in the early twentieth century and buildings like the House of the Black Madonna are the result. They juxtapose a vastly different tone to the more classical structures around them.
The route carries one through on a journey that resonates with the glory of Prague, passing the Astronomical Clock, crossing the Charles Bridge and, of course, ending at Prague Castle. Within the Castle stands St. Vitus Cathedral where the new monarch would be crowned and emerge to a rapturous reception from their new subjects.
As powerful as it is to walk where the future monarchs walked, it is also moving to think that this is where the poor and common could gain an image of their ruler that would sustain them. When they spoke of their king, when they fought for their king, this would be the moment that they might remember as their inspiration.
The last monarch to walk this path was Ferdinand V The Good, in 1836, but there is no doubt that the spirits of Kings still share the course. Walking through a city is always a fascinating way of seeing into the lives of the people that made it. Walking the Royal Route of Prague also provides a wonderful insight into the perspective of those that would rule it.
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