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216 × 138 × 20 mm
280 pages
105 illustrations, 71 in colour
10 Dec 2018

Prague Crossroads of Europe Derek Sayer

Thirty years ago Prague was a closed book to most Westerners. Today it is Europe’s fifth most-visited city, surpassed only by London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. With a stunning natural location on the Vltava river and a spectacular potpourri of Romanesque rotundas, Gothic towers, Renaissance palaces, Baroque churches, Art Nouveau cafés, Cubist apartment buildings, Modernist villas and postmodern architectural showpieces, Prague may well be Europe’s most beautiful capital city.

Behind the beauty lies a turbulent and often violent history. Located at the uneasy centre of the continent, Prague has been a crossroads of cultures for more than a millennium. From the religious wars of the middle ages and the nationalist struggles of the nineteenth century to the modern conflicts of fascism, communism and democracy, Prague’s past is a saga of the forces that have shaped Europe. Derek Sayer provides an expert and very readable guide to the complexities of this colourful history, while reflecting upon sides of the present-day city tourists seldom see – from a model interwar Modernist villa colony to Europe’s biggest Vietnamese market – and presenting listings of what to see, hear and do and where to eat, drink and shop.

‘There is no visitor to Prague who is not enchanted by this city. Prague has everything: the ancient and the modern, the history and the culture, the music and the tranquillity, the contradictions and the harmony. Derek Sayer’s excellent book captures all of these facets of Prague to make any visit even more worthwhile.’ — Ivan Margolius, architectural historian and author of Reflections of Prague: Journeys through the 20th century and Prague: A Guide to 20th Century Architecture

‘Meticulous, imaginative, unconventional – all the way from old palaces to Little Hanoi . . .’ — Jindrich Toman, University of Michigan

‘He writes in an accessible, jargon-free style and has a fine eye for the telling detail and illuminating anecdote . . . a remarkably useful and very readable short history that will certainly be welcomed by scholars visiting the city; it can also be used as a quick reference . . . a historically focused introduction to the city, scholars as well as the general public should find this a worthy volume. In fact, it could also serve as a textbook for a course on the city.’ — H-Urban, Humanities and Social Sciences online

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Derek Sayer is Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta, Canada. His many previous books include The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History (1998), Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century: A Surrealist History (2013) and Making Trouble: Surrealism and the Social Sciences (2017). He lives in Calgary, Alberta.


1 I See a Great City
2 Přemyslid Prague
3 The Golden Age of Charles IV
4 Against All!
5 A Poisoned Chalice
6 The White Mountain
7 The Homeland and the Muses
8 Golden Slavonic Prague
9 At the Crossroads
10 Into the Shadows
11 Prague Moves East
12 Back into Europe

The Prague Coffee-house
Beer is Truly a Heavenly Gift!
Plastic Dreams of the Prague Cubists
A Modernity Worthy of the Name
Karlín Redux
Little Hanoi
The Dancing House

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