In 1991 I visited Prague for the first time. With highschool we went on a few days excursion. A second time followed in the summer of 1999 with an interrailtrip through the midst of Europe, but the photos I rephotographed here are from my last visit just before the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in the first days of January 2020. We celebrated New Years Eve in Český Krumlov and went the day after to Kutná Hora to end late in the evening on a campsite in Prague. The next morning I finally visited Prague after over 20 years.

Valdštejnská, Prague, Czech Republic, photo published in 1941 vs. the 2nd of January 2020

Photos: Kurt Hielscher & Casper Molenaar

Valdštejnská is an easy to miss street when strolling down from Pragues Castle towards the Charles Bridge (Karlův Most), but I am sure everybody takes a look to the right passing it expecting a view up towards the castle. To get the same view Kurt Hielscher did one has to go into the street for some 250 meters. It is just behind the bend with the Senate on the right and the beautiful Valdštejnská Zahrada, the gardens, on the left. 

Though it was quite cold and a sunny day once the fog disappeared, it was busier than I thought it would have been, for sure not to compare with 1991 when we were like the only foreign tourists. The feeling was the same though.

A moment of hapinessstruck mewhen I stepped out of the tram on Prague Castle hill. We strolled around the castle complex and the impressive cathedral and traveled throught time. I rememberd the history of the defenestrations again. This time, I decided not to go into the famous and characteristic Zlatna Ulica, the Golden Street, with its tiny charming working-class houses, but cherish the memory of almost 30 years earlier. There was a gate and a row now. The walk all the way down to the Charles Bridge with its views upon a forest of church towers and then look back up to the Castle again, stunning! Though I had been here twice before, I was still overwhelmed by all the beauty of this city and its views. It seems like one could take off and fly like a bird from spire to spire. 

Saint Vitus Cathedral in the early morning fog, 2nd of January 20202. Photo: Casper Molenaar

My youngest son taking a photo from the Saint Vitus Cathedral, 2nd of January 2020. Photo: Casper Molenaar

And then we arrived at the famous Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge originates from 1357, or, to be more exact, from the 9th of July at 5:31 am when King Charles IV laid the foundation stone. 30 statues embellish the 10-meter-wide and 516-meter-long iconic bridge over the Vltava river. 

Charles Bridge, 1941. Photo: Kurt Hielscher

Charles Bridge, 2nd of January 2020. Photo: Casper Molenaar. There are also some family members of me on the photo.

Me with my family with a selfie on the Charles Bridge, the famous 600 years old Pražský orloj, astronomical clock, and again a happy family on the main old town square, Staroměstské náměstí, and a shot from the John Lennon wall in the evening.

Passing the Vltava river via the Charles Bridge you will then face the Kostel Nejsvětějšího Salvátora, the Salvator Church. You might want to go inside and find stairs to go up to the balcony and find this amazing view dominated by the Staroměstská mostecká věž, the Old Town Bridge Tower, the Charles Bridge, the statue of Charles the 4th and the Castle in the distance as photographed by Kurt Hielscher.  

The Staroměstská mostecká věž, the Old Town Bridge Tower, as photographed probably from the balcony of the Kostel Nejsvětějšího Salvátora, the Salvator Church, by Kurt Hielscher in 1941.

Old Town Bridge Tower as seen from the Křižovnické náměstí, 2nd of January 2020. Photo: Casper Molenaar

I went into the church, but unfortunately, I did not find a way to go up but a fence instead. I went through a gate nextdoor and found the doorbell of the Římskokatolická Akademická farnost Praha and a lady opened the door. It was not in her authority to let me go to the balcony, but she would asked and let me know if I could come the next morning. So I left my contacts with her but I never heard from her again. Next time I will ask in advance.

Watching the changing of the guards, View from the Charles Bridge on the Vlatava river, famous and sweet "Krtek" (mole), is everywhere, Chrismas market on the main square, Staroměstské náměstí.

Below: view on Prague from its Castle

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher