“Prague never lets you go… this dear little mother has sharp claws.” ~Franz Kafka
Prague, the city of 1,000 spires, was the home to the legendary writer Franz Kafka, born on June 3, 1883, near the Church of St. Nicholas. Although he never directly referred to the city in his writing, his letters and fictional works reflect his life’s experiences and surreal thoughts within this mysterious maze of cobblestone streets. His virtual footprints are left throughout the city as his family moved numerous times over the course of his childhood. As a boy, Kafka lived in the Minute House, currently part of the Town Hall in Old Town. He also later had a modest apartment within the building that now houses the American Embassy. With friends, Kafka would go to local coffee houses, such as the Café Louvre, to discuss intellectual ideas. He held the first public reading of his work The Judgement at Hotel Erzherzog Stefan, today known as The Grand Hotel Europa, situated in Wenceslas Square. For entertainment, Kafka and his friends would attend cabaret performances and cinema screenings at Lucerna. To find a peaceful respite for his writing, he wrote at his sister’s house located on the Golden Lane in Prague, House No. 22. The city housed his inner turmoil, served as the backdrop for his struggle against totalitarian bureaucracy, and held his secrets amidst its labyrinth.
Photo: Old Jewish Quarter in Prague