Finding the main train station by tram and subway was a challenge, but the sightseeing more than made up for it.
The tourism bureau seems to have decided that Medieval is the correct theme for Prague. Those WERE the glory days in a way – some of their best kings were from that period. King Wenceslaus, 1233, or King Charles IV, 1357. Later kings were from other countries – the Austro-Hungarian Empire, for example. See illustration below. Many abbeys and churches also date from this period.
However, everywhere I looked I also saw the date 1906 on buildings. Some were built in Enlightenment style, sort of Mozartean, but the heaviness of the stucco decoration gave them away as being much younger than they had striven to look. This is when architect Josef Fanta , 1856-1954, was in vogue, and Czech Art Nouveau was flourishing.
The twenty-some years between 1890 and 1910 were a highly creative time for Prague – and all of Central Europe. Art Nouveau was in vogue, Franz Kafka was writing, the Zionist Congress was being promoted by journalist Theodore Herzl. The first gathering of that Congress was in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. It’s clear, to paraphrase the evocative words of a song from “Evita,” that “dice were rolling, knives were out.”
So, why does Prague look like a good place for a steampunk fest? It’s true there is no actual Victorian vibe here, but while England had moved on from that to the Edwardian era, Prague remained in its old-fashioned, but sophisticated way, a gateway to a fabulous past. And isn’t that what Steam Punk is about?