As the 'Charles IV: Emperor by the Grace of God' exhibition continues in Prague Castle, visitors to the city are already able to gain an impression of art and culture during the reign of Charles IV, one of the golden ages of Czech history. But what was everyday life in Prague really like under one of the most famous Czech emperors? This is a question which a new exhibition, accompanying the display of gothic works in Prague Castle, intends to answer.
The 14th century brought about a period of great growth and prosperity to Prague. Following the accession of the Luxemburg family to the throne, John of Luxemburg and afterwards his son Charles IV set about transforming the Bohemian capital into a second Rome, with a vision of making it a centre of religion, politics and commerce with influence all over Europe. Now, a new exhibition opened in the Clam-Gallas Palace in the Old Town explains how people in the Czech capital really lived at this time of great prosperity. Organised by the Prague City Archive in cooperation with the Museum of the City of Prague, it presents Gothic documents, books and relics from the period, to give an impression of how the city operated. The display, entitled Prague under the Luxemburgs, aims to expand on the current exhibition of Gothic art in Prague Castle, displaying the development of the city in terms of trade and politics during the Czech Golden Age. Miroslav Sklenar is the Deputy Executive Director of Prague City Hall:
"The idea is to show that Prague at the time was really the centre of the monarchy. Prague at the time was not a regional city but Prague was the capital of what was to become the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The idea is to show that Prague was the real capital of Europe. At the time Charles IV was the leading figure in European politics and our idea is to show that Prague is really full of history, as everybody knows, and to remind people that Prague was the real capital of Europe."
The exhibition is divided into 9 sections which examine the Luxemburg dynasty itself, the appearance of Prague at the time, the construction of the New Town and the further expansions to the city built under Charles IV. It also covers the less pleasant aspects of town life at the time, including the various plagues, fires and floods which swept the city, to give an accurate picture of town life. Exhibits include the original writings of the Emperor himself from the year 1347, in which he assures residents of the Old Town that construction of the New Town would not infringe upon their rights as citizens. Miroslav Sklenar believes that the lives of Prague citizens under the Luxemburgs should be of interest to people today.
"I think that both for inhabitants and for visitors to the city, for the citizens of Prague and the Czech Republic, it's a chance to show them that we can be proud of our history. It is something really important. And for visitors to the city, they see architecture here; Prague is a unique historical centre of UNESCO, in the centre you can see all styles of architecture. So we also intend to remind visitors that Prague is not only a historical site and a UNESCO heritage site, but that it used to be an important political centre, and I think that it is important nowadays."
The exhibition continues in Prague's Clam-Gallas Palace until the 4th of June.
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