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October 2014

This post is the third and final installation in our Monsters of Prague series, leading up to Halloween with the sometimes even more eerie truths behind some of Bohemia’s best loved scary stories. So far we have visited a demon-possessed house and the streets where Prague’s Golem once walked, but this week the lines between fact and gruesome fiction are blurred beyond recognition with a look at the Czech Republic’s vampiric history.

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Vampires are everywhere in Prague, like this waxwork in one of my local bars.

This post is the second in our series of eerie Bohemian stories leading up to Halloween. Last week I took you to a very special house in the center of Prague which, while not haunted per se, is rumoured to have been the scene of some legendary demonic activity… This week we’re taking a stroll through the streets of Old Town, examining Prague’s deeply seated Jewish history, and another world-famous monster…

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A tourist stall in Prague’s Jewish quarter sells golems of all shapes and sizes alongside other curiosities.

This post is the first in a series of three, leading up to Halloween. While Halloween as we know it is not widely celebrated in the Czech republic – All Saint’s Day (Dušičky) remains a sombre affair here, to be explored in a later post – the gathering autumnal chill and early dusks are crying out for some spooky Bohemian stories. Therefore I’ll be telling you three of Prague’s most infamous horror tales, from the places they are purported to have happened…

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This week is quite a significant one when it comes to Gothic literary greats. Saturday, the 4th, was the birthday of Anne Rice and Wednesday, the 7th, will be the anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s death. The two are undoubtedly numbered amongst America’s most important contributors to the the Gothic horror genre, with Poe’s ‘The Raven’ considered a benchmark for 19th Century Gothic tropes and Rice’s Vampire Chronicles almost entirely responsible for reawakening vampire-mania in 20th Century mainstream culture. Probing a little deeper reveals certain similarities beyond pure aesthetic, despite the century that lies between the authors – both writers experienced a tragic loss in their personal lives, which manifested itself somehow in their works, and both are noted for having somewhat convoluted relationships with the Christian faith. It is certainly not news that a sense of loss and spiritual turmoil are key themes in the Gothic, but perhaps the personal experiences of these writers has given the genre’s gloomy sense of surrealism a core of raw human emotion – something that has ensured that Poe’s writings withstood the test of time, and doubtless destined Rice’s modern Gothic classics to do the same.