LIVELY.EMPTY.CHANGED - Life in Prague during a Pandemic

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Life in Prague during a Pandemic





Life in Prague during a Pandemic



September 2020 I moved to Prague to experience studying abroad. I just heard stories about the famous European city, since I have never been there before. Wonderful   architecture, magical old town and the nightlife is always fun and crowded with international people, that‘s what they said. But my expectations have been turned upside down by a virus that has changed the everyday life of cities worldwide. Soon I am leaving and the question does not let me go: How was life in Prague before the pandemic started? In this project, I am trying to figure it out through experience reports of friends who lived in Prague before covid started and now, their stories and my personal imagination which places in the city have changed and how it was before 2020.




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The coronavirus pandemic, as expected, had a large impact on tourism across the Czech Republic, with Prague hit the hardest. In the second quarter 2020, the total number of guests in hotels and other collective accommodation establishments decreased by 82.9%, year-on-year, and the number of overnight stays of guests in collective accommodation establishments decreased by 81.7%, according to the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). In the period of April through June, fivestar hotels in the Czech Republic saw a drop of 93.1% in the number of guests, the largest drop in any hotel category. — Raymond Johnston, 2020 15


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poeple visited Prague in 2019, most of them congregating on just one street, the so-called Royal Route, which leads from the Old Town across Charles Bridge to Prague Castle. The district through which the approximately 2.5-kilometer path runs has just 30,000 inhabitants. 19


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A civic group called “Million Moments for Democracy” sprayed 25,000 white crosses overnight on Monday on the cobble-stoned square, surrounded by gothic and baroque churches and Prague’s famed Astronomical Clock, to commemorate victims of the pandemic in the past year — and blame the government for missteps. The plan was to wash the crosses off that day, but Prague’s city hall said it would let them stay until rain washes them off. Then people spontaneously started chalking names, dates of deaths and notes to individual crosses, turning the original act into personal commemorations. — Jiri Skacel, 2021

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One of the oldest markets in the city, Havel Market dates back to 1232. Originally selling only produce, the market has changed over the years, mainly with tourists in mind. Lately it seems though that the produce stalls are starting to outnumber the souvenir stalls, which is a good thing as many stalls sell the same tourist junk you can find all over Old Town. Some stalls however offer inexpensive handmade Czech crystal and glass jewelry, tasty traditional spa wafers, decorative birch boxes, local honey and wooden toys; all excellent presents to return home with. — Prague-stay.com

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Vzorkovna, famously known as “The Dog Bar”, is a peculiar place to hang out with your close friends. It is not only a place to grab a beer, but also it provides more activities than that. As the bar is well known for locals and tourists it is not surprising to see people standing in the queue at the entrance of the bar. Once you have finally reached the main door a worker of the bar will hand you out a card in which you have to charge money to pay for your drinks. This grants customers a whole new experience which makes the bar so unique. After coming down the stairs you will find yourself in a huge basement that offers a maze of different rooms. These activities range from playing table football to listening to a live band. However, if you are looking for a simple chat with your friends a long with a cold cerny pivo and a cigarette, there are three chill areas to hang out one of them including a projector that projetcs motion pictures or muted movies. It should not be forgotten that the fame and the extraordinarity of the bar is due to the fact that there is a dog strolling around giving the bar its nickname “The Dog Bar”. — Nicolas Benavides Garcia

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Vzorkovna, famously known as “The Dog Bar”, is a peculiar place to hang out with your close friends. It is not only a place to grab a beer, but also it provides more activities than that. As the bar is well known for locals and tourists it is not surprising to see people standing in the queue at the entrance of the bar. Once you have finally reached the main door a worker of the bar will hand you out a card in which you have to charge money to pay for your drinks. This grants customers a whole new experience which makes the bar so unique. After coming down the stairs you will find yourself in a huge basement that offers a maze of different rooms. These activities range from playing table football to listening to a live band. However, if you are looking for a simple chat with your friends a long with a cold cerny pivo and a cigarette, there are three chill areas to hang out one of them including a projector that projetcs motion pictures or muted movies. It should not be forgotten that the fame and the extraordinarity of the bar is due to the fact that there is a dog strolling around giving the bar its nickname “The Dog Bar”. — Nicolas Benavides Garcia

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Prague Castle welcomed in 2019 2,587,492 paying visitors, and more than 8.5 million visitors passed through the castle grounds. Once home to Bohemian kings and now the official presidential residence, the castle has changed a great deal since the construction of its original fortifications in the 10th century and as a result contains many different architectural styles. Acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ancient castle in the world — it measures 570 meters in length and averages 130 meters in width — Prague castle can take a fair amount of time to walk around, and its sheer size is intimidating. — Bryan Dearsley, 2019 65


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This project gave me a better idea of how Prague was before the pandemic started even if listening to stories of my friends and my own imagination can never be the same as living and experiencing it. I spent most of the time at home during the long lockdown and I was not able to go to university. The closed shops and deserted streets gave the city an even more mystical image. Above all, I am sure the life in Prague before covid was a lot of fun. But I was able to experience another Prague that is empty and without tourists and parties. The question is if restaurants, shops, and clubs are surviving these difficult times without visitors? I am wondering how different my time in Prague would have been if there was no covid? However, it will always be an extraordinary time to be remembered. 72


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Conceptual Design & Photography: Julia Matzen julia.matzen@web.de

Sources: Czech Republic sees record number of tourists in 2019 by KAFKADESK, 2020

Printing and Binding: Voala Pavel Kulišťák Dobrovského 553/8 170 00 Praha 7 Česká Republika

https://kafkadesk.org/2020/02/08/czech-republic-sees-record-number-of-tourists-in-2019/ (16.04.2021)

Paper:

Visitor statistics for Prague heritage sites

Interviews:

https://www.praguecitytourism.cz/en/our-services/statistics/visitor-statistics-for-prague-heritage-sites-14844#:~:text=Prague%20Castle%20 welcomed%20in%202019,more%20than%20 2%20million%20passengers. (26.04.2021)

Number of foreign Erasmus+ students in Czech Republic at 75 percent of normal rate last semester by Tom McEnchroe, 2021 https://english.radio.cz/number-foreign-erasmus-students-czech-republic-75-percentnormal-rate-last-8707883 (26.04.2021)

Tourism in the Czech Republic has dropped over 80% due to COVID-19 pandemic, Prague hit hardest by Raymond Johnston, 2020 https://news.expats.cz/czech-tourism/tourism-in-the-czech-republic-has-dropped-over80-due-to-covid-19-pandemic-prague-hit-hardest/ (06.05.2021)

Mourners make Prague‘s Old Town Square into sombre memorial for coronavirus victims by Jiri Skacel, 2021 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-healthcoronavirus-czech-crosses-idUSKBN2BI1P3 (18.05.2021)

Havel Market - Prague-stay.com

https://www.prague-stay.com/lifestyle/review/5havel-market (06.05.2021)

Visiting Prague Castle: 9 Top Attractions, Tips & Tours by Bryan Dearsley, 2019: https://www.planetware.com/prague/praguecastle-cz-pr-pc.htm (02.05.2021)

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Munken Lynx Rough 120mg (Profile SRGB) Transparent Paper Nicolas Benavides Garcia, Anna Stava, Yasmin Ibrahim, Darian Pulgarin

Thanks to:

George Allen Prague College