An Underground City
Prague has been a well-known city since the 5th century when it was first written about by a foreign trader in his journal. Throughout time, Prague has changed drastically as the world has evolved. However, throughout all of Prague’s history, the Vltava River has flowed through the center of the city. The Vltava River is a staple of Prague and its history. Throughout Prague’s history, during the rainy season, the river has flooded into the city. Many areas of the city were constantly under the threat of destruction and the lives of the people were in danger. This was a consistent problem throughout the majority of Prague’s history. After so many catastrophic floods, it was decided that something has to be done. In 1344 the city of Prague was raised by 7 feet. The ground of every road and courtyard was filled in to be 7 feet higher than it originally was. This helped with the flooding, but left half of the city buried underground.
The first floor of every building in Prague instantly became the basement. Today most of these basements have become part of stores or restaurants. I was lucky enough to do a tour of Prague’s underground. We walked throughout the city and got to go into many underground spaces that have been preserved and not turned into bars or restaurants. In these underground rooms you could see the original front doors and windows of the first floor. It was fascinating to see this part of the city hidden underneath the ground.
The underground rooms also have a lot of history behind them as they have been underground since 1344. Many families at the time used them for storage or extra rooms but throughout history they have had other purposes. During WWII many Jewish people hid in these underground structures. Families would hide several other families in their basements to try and protect them from the Nazi occupation. The families hiding in the underground even made a tunnel network, digging between all the underground rooms. There was a whole network of tunnels connecting the refugee families. Unfortunately, almost all these tunnels were filled in during the communist regime in Prague so there is no longer a connection between the underground city.
There is so much history here in Prague that I had no idea about when I chose to come here. I never knew I would be studying for a semester above a hidden city and all the history that comes with it. I am very grateful to be able to experience and learn so much about the history of this city. When you study abroad, you have no idea what you might find out!
Maddy M. is studying Psychology and Criminal Justice and studying abroad with CEA in Prague, Czech Republic.
An Underground City