Every time someone writes a ‘top ten European cities’ round-up, Berlin and Prague usually make the cut. And it’s easy to see why – both boast a fascinating, equally terrifying history, but each have their own distinct appeal too.
Following the demolition of the Berlin Wall, Germany’s capital has reinvented itself as an eclectic hotbed for fashion, music, street art and food, buzzing with creative types, whereas Prague breathes romance and mystery. It is jaw-droppingly pretty every step of the way – from its Old Town Square, to the fairytale-esque St Nicholas Church, Charles Bridge and Prague castle.
The two cities are only a four-hour train ride apart, so I decided to combine a visit to both at the same time earlier this year. And if you’re prone to restlessness on transport, fear not, because the train journey is too scenic to fidget – especially from Berlin to Dresden, as you pass through verdant Elbe river valley.
Of course, one of my highlights of Berlin was taking in the iconic Berlin Wall and particularly the East Side Gallery. This mile-long section of the original Wall is the world’s largest open air gallery, showcasing over 100 poignant, colourful paintings by artists from across the globe.
The artwork features inspiring messages – sometimes with a hint of quirkiness – and it’s amazing to witness something that once symbolised ultimate segregation and fear, now standing for hope and a better future. My favourite quote within the artwork was ‘Thoughts are like traces of birds in heaven’ (pictured).
And did you know Prague has a famous wall too? Arguably not as powerful as the Berlin Wall, but still a ‘must-see’ site in the city, is the John Lennon Wall in the Malá Strana district.
Following Lennon’s death in 1980, fans decided to mark his life by painting song lyrics, famous quotes and images of him onto the wall. The wall became a victim of the Communist era and was painted over because it appeared to represent Western values – but it soon returned once the Iron Curtain fell.
I was lucky enough to have the wall entirely to myself during my visit and I was in a similar trance to when faced with the Berlin Wall, reading its many touching, genuinely feel-good messages – and walking away with a warmer heart and another reminder about why I love to travel (as if I need more reasons!).
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Category: Guest Post