Just weeks ago, the city of Prague, like numerous other European capitals, was grappling with the challenge of overtourism. Following the shutdown of non-essential shops and restaurants earlier this week, that problem has all but vanished in the face of a government-mandated quarantine that is likely to be extended into the tourist season.
Suddenly some of Prague’s most crowded quarters have the look of abandoned film sets — not an entirely inaccurate description as numerous productions that use its well-preserved neighborhoods as filming locations have packed up and gone home.
Streets such as Karlova, a section of the ancient Royal Way leading to the Charles Bridge, or Melantrinchova wending towards the Astronomical Clock, are uncharacteristically silent. Squares typically bustling with pedestrian traffic and shoppers are now dotted with lone figures in face masks.
Several of our staff and readers went out before the government restrictions or during essential trips to document in photos the surreal calm that has fallen over the Czech capital.
These photos represent some of the extraordinary scenes they saw (not pictured here: pub crawls going on business as usual, smokers congregating with masks draped around their necks, congested tram lines offset by empty side streets) and capture the irony that while Prague may have been relieved of its tourist burden for now, the reason for that happening is particularly dire.
Editor’s note: Going out to take photos now violates the restrictions put in place in the Czech Republic to lessen the spread of the coronavirus; some of the shots here were even taken from the behind the wheel of a car. We ask that our readers continue to stay home and respect the rules of the quarantine.
Tram stop, Prague / photo via Adam Trachtman (taken from his car)