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"It was a city of alchemists and dreamers..."

(Title quotation from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor)

It’s easy to tell a lot about a place by it’s architecture and general atmosphere and with Prague, it’s no different. Renowned for its impressive edifices and historic buildings, this is a city for lovers and artists, photographers and adventurers, all hoping to glean some sort of experience from just being here.

In just over a month in the city, I’ve found myself completely breathless at more than a few of the buildings. Many structures, constructed centuries ago, have withstood the test of time and have weathered many storms (both literal and figurative.) They are all still as beautiful as I imagine they were when first erected.

However, recently what’s caught my eye more than the buildings themselves are the doors on them. Doors, I think, show a lot of character that isn’t always noticed when in the shadow of impressive architecture and statues. An assignment I received for a photography class here instructed us to go out and shoot at least twenty photos of whatever we wanted.

At first I thought I knew what my focus would be: people. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos of human subjects over that of nature or buildings (though each has their own artistic value, for sure,) but when I started taking pictures in the center of Prague and in my own neighborhood, doors caught my attention.

It was interesting for me to see the contrast between a beautifully up-kept building and it’s graffitied door and soon I was actively searching. I thought of the history behind them and how each, in it’s own way, had a tale I’d probably never discover. Who walked through those doors and what were their stories?

Maybe they were nothing more than entrances to apartment buildings but, regardless, I found myself imagining countless things. Who’d painted them and etched those carvings onto now worn wood? Who’d lived beyond them? Who’d walked out of them and never came back?

All of these questions I started to come up with pointed to one indisputable fact: Prague is a city for dreamers. As a writer, creativity is an active part of my everyday life and walking down these streets my imagination comes alive with countless questions about this city untouched by time. I think that the fact something as simple as doors can capture my attention speaks volumes about the city itself.

The buildings and, more specifically, the doors I’ve been noticing lately are only a small representation of everything here; all that’s happened and all that possibly could happen. Each street and cobbled path holds untold stories of countless individuals who’ve ever traveled or lived here.

I’m grateful that I’ve noticed this early on because, as cliché as it may sound; the little things are often the biggest. And sometimes all it takes to appreciate the richness and beauty that surrounds us, wherever we go, is something as simple as a door.


Amanda Palomino is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a junior at Hofstra University.
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