Franz Kafka's often-gothic, sometimes-bizarre and always-inspiring writing is visible in the form of surreal statues, literary cafes and historic hotels found throughout Prague.
David Černý'ss 11-metre high Statue of Franz Kafka
It’s not uncommon for a city to pay tribute to one of its most famous artists, but there’s nothing common or run-of-the-mill about the way Prague honours Franz Kafka. Sculptor Jaroslav Róna's bronze Statue of Franz Kafka (inspired by Kafka’s short story Description of a Struggle) is a case in point as it looms over passerbys on Dušní Street. Rather than just sculpt the writer, Róna opted to create a bronze headless giant holding a smaller sculpture of Kafka on its shoulders.
Despite the surreal nature of Róna’s work, this is not the most-bizarre or best-known tribute to Kafka in the city centre. That honour goes to sculptor David Černý for his 11-metre high Statue of Franz Kafka in the Quadrio shopping centre. The sculpture is composed of moving panels that, from the right angle, form Kafka’s face.
The Cheshskaya Praga District
The Franz Kafka Museum in the Mala Strana neighbourhood is full of memorabilia relating to the writer’s life and books, and there are two permanent exhibitions which deal with how Prague shaped Kafka’s writing. Existential Space covers Kafka’s life, the places around Prague that were important to him and how he felt about the city, while Imaginary Topography focuses on how Kafka represented Prague on the page.
Once you’ve explored the museum, pay a visit to the Franz Kafka Society for a tour of the city and finishing off at the Franz Kafka Bookstore. This cosy shop is a great place to pick up old favourites or to check out new Czech writers. When you’re fully stocked up, head over to the Café Louvre to spend an afternoon reading in one of Kafka’s favourite literary meeting spots.
The rooftops of Kafka's Prague
The building where Kafka wrote what was arguably his most famous and infamous novel - Metamorphosis - has been torn down but it’s still possible to share Kafka’s view of Prague. The building was replaced by the towering InterContinental Hotel, where guests can stop by the Duke’s Bar & Cafe for a coffee and admire the view that inspired the writer.
Considering Kafka’s feelings about the insurance office where he worked from 1908 to 1922, it’s easy to imagine that he would probably be at least a little gleeful that it’s been replaced by the Hotel Century Old Town Prague. The hotel is full of references to Kafka’s association with the building, including a room named after one of his fiancées and a room designated as ‘Kafka’s office’.