From the courtesy of Fuga Center of Architecture in Budapest, now you can become part of this process of visualization even if you have not yet been with us in the given city. In the course of the lecture series “Invisible cities”, which I will start in Fuga next Tuesday, February 2, at 4 pm, I will show how one can recall to life and make understandable abolished structures and forgotten stories.
The first city, about which I will talk, Prague’s old Jewish quarter, the city’s fifth district, is particularly interesting, because it became invisible in more than one way. The district, which developed organically for a thousand years, was almost completely obliterated by the town planning in the 1890s, only the three synagogues, the council house and the cemetery survived like towers of Atlantis. The new Art Nouveau neighborhood built in its place followed a completely different layout and mentality, as a conscious denial of the previous city. Its original inhabitants and together with them the rich and complex stories of many centuries also disappeared. And finally, today’s tourist industry, catering for the revived interest in Jewish heritage, fills up the remaining stage with a completely new and simplistic set of stories, whose main actors are the Golem, the alchemists and Kafka, even in combination with each other, if the guests command so.
However, in the archives and libraries of Prague a multitude of photos, documents, descriptions and literary works have survived, by whose joining the obliterated part of the city can be made visible again. I started this a year ago, when writing about Hendl Bassevi, the Jew of three emperors, I revived with the help of old photos and maps his former house, one of the most beautiful palaces in Prague, and the Great Yard Synagogue, founded by him. By now I can present the reconstruction of the whole Jewish neighborhood of Prague at the Tuesday lecture. If you want to come, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I could roughly know how many we will be, how I should have the room prepared.
And if you feel like coming to personally discover the site with me, I invite you to our three-days Prague tour announced for 26 to 28 February. Besides the Jewish quarter, we will also wander about several other parts of the historical city core, so slowly and carefully as is rarely done: the Old Town from north to south, the little-known streets of Pohořelec and Nový Svět behind the castle, the passage quarter of the New Town, the important works of Czech Art Nouveau architecture. And in addition to the Jewish neighborhood, we will also revisit other vanished worlds: the former scenes of the commercial, literary and social life at the turn of the century, disappeared cafés, literary circles, famous residents. And of course, we will regularly sit down in traditional pubs and restaurants, which is an inherent part of any Prague tour. The participation fee is 250 euro, which includes accommodation (three nights in four-star hotel under the Castle), a three-day ticket in Prague, and guide. Arrival (on the 25th in the evening) and departure (28th around noon) individually, I will suggest buses and trains. Registration until Thursday, 28 January, at email@example.com.