This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
A hot-pink confection of Bohemian Neo-Renaissance style, the Hotel Opera stands in the less touristy Nové Město, or “New Town,” quarter of storied Prague. It is a five-minute walk from historic Old Town—an apt reflection of Prague’s nonlinear relationship to time. This romantic city is a unique meeting ground for old and new, historic and modern. Miraculously preserved buildings established in the fourteenth century are squeezed beside ultramodern constructions, like a Frank Gehry–designed glass building that resembles a dancing couple. And yet nothing feels out of place in this enchanted, haunted city—including the bright pink Hotel Opera…which is not particularly near the Opera.
Much closer is Wenceslas Square, the nerve center of some of the most significant shifts in modern European history. History emanates from this square, which locals and tourists still flock to for people watching, protests, and parties. Using the square and the Hotel Opera, one can trace some of the major pivot points of extreme change in this extraordinary capital city:
“He who is master of Bohemia is master of Europe,” Bismarck said. Riding on this theory, the United States, France, Britain, and other allies helped create Czechoslovakia, carving it out of the losing side in World War I. In 1918, just months before the new democratic nation had its independence declared in Wenceslas Square, the Hotel Opera was purchased by Karel Češka, a man bolstered by optimistic ambitions of creating a lasting, family-run establishment.
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