Prague's New Town
Milos Urban's haunting New Town - Prague, Czech Republic
"If you forget about the surrounding houses it feels as if you're in one of the most ancient places in the city."
K talks about the area around St Stephen's
If your Prague guide book tells you that there is nothing to see in the New Town or your map stops at Charles' Square, leave them buried in your suitcase for the morning and turn to something a little more terrifying. Milos Urban's thriller "The Seven Churches" is gory (it opens with a man hanging from the bell of St Appollinaris by his Achilles tendon), dark, dreamlike and supernatural. It's not only a gripping story but an excellent guide to the gothic architecture and chilling stories of the area's churches. Follow Urban's protagonist, the troubled policeman K with an obsession for the Middle Ages, through the cobbled hills of the New Town to St Appollinaris, the cursed bell of St Stephen's, the Church of the Annunciation, the pagan sacrificial altar at The Church of the Annunciation, the bloody history of St Catherine's convent, the talking gargoyles at Karlov and Emmaus.
- The Seven Churches, A Gothic Novel of Prague by Milos Urban has been translated into English by Robert Russell and has a map of the churches.
- For sleeping, wrapped in the blanket of ecclesiastical history, choose The Augustine in the Lesser Town. It's a converted 13th century Augustinian monastery in the grounds of St Thomas' church (where there is still an order of monks) and has soaring views of Prague Castle. Inside, the high vaulted ceilings and wide corridors whisper of it's history. The restaurant, The Monastery, has recently been named the third best in Prague with meticulous European and Czech food (try rabbit and bacon with mashed potato) and exceptional service. The Brewery Bar, in the cellar caves serves dark beer using the method and recipe created by the monks. The hotel also gave excellent recommendations about Prague's restaurants, gardens and museums. My favourite was the dinner at Piano Nobile, high up in the castle's vineyards, serving french food and boasting the city's most romantic view out across Prague. www.theaugustine.com
- I flew to Prague from London Heathrow with British Airways. Alternatively www.seat61.com can help you to plan a trip by train.