The City of a Hundred Spires revealed through letters, diaries and memoirs from medieval to modern times Built on the banks of the meandering river Moldau, Prague has for centuries been an inspiration to artists and writers, inhabitants and visitors, many of whom have declared the hundred-towered city to be one of the most beautiful in the world, though one with a turbulent history. Jan Kaplan's selection from letters, diaries, memoirs and anecdotes brilliantly evokes both the city's exhilarating creative power, so impressively visible in its buildings and art treasures, and the many tragic events played out in its streets through the centuries. Here are eyewitness accounts of the sermons of Jan Hus, Czech forerunner of the German Reformation, the Defenestrations of Prague, beginning in 1419, the premiere night of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni in 1787, and the invasions and political upheavals of the 20th century. There are personal reflections from Petrarch, John Dee, Goethe, Horatio Nelson, Frederic Chopin, Hans Christian Andersen, George Eliot, Jan Neruda, Thomas Carlyle, Hector Berlioz, Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jaroslav Seifert, Karel Capek, Graham Greene, Vclav Havel, Franz Kafka, Ladislav Klma, and more. Together they powerfully conjure up the magic of the enduring city.
Czech-born Jan Kaplan is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a notable Prague historian. He has co-authored several books including Prague in the Shadow of the Swastika, Prague: The Turbulent Century and Prague 1900-2000. Among his many documentary film productions, he has co-directed the Channel 4 (UK) series In Search of Holy England and The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich shown on BBC Timewatch.