What is the Flying Golem?

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First of all: Hi! Welcome to the blog!

My name is Filip and I’ve been leading walking tours around Prague since September 2010.

One of the most amazing things about being a tourist guide is also one of the worst things about it. Every person coming on the tour is joining it for the first time. And it feels great to be able to introduce people to the wonderful city of Prague, its fantastic architecture, and more than a millennium of history.

But at the same time, that means we rarely go beyond introductions. And with this blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to get a bit more in-depth. To talk about the basics, here and there, but also get the chance to dig around more and share the coolest stories I don’t usually get the chance to talk about.

What to expect?

My plan for this blog is to have a weekly article about a rotating set of topics. I’m interested in pretty much every part of Prague, and as a tourist guide I ought to know little bit about everything, and that’s what I’ll write.

There will be practical tips, especially useful if you’re visiting the city temporarily. There will be legends, because Prague is rife with incredible and wonderful stories to be shared. There will be culture, whether that means food, drinks or traditions. There will be architecture, seeing as Prague is “the city of a hundred spires”. There will be the occasional museum or an exhibition…

Hopefully you’ll be able to check back every week and find something worthwhile to look at!

What is the Golem?

The Golem is one of my favourite legends of Prague. It takes place in the Jewish Ghetto of Prague in the late 16th century. A rabbi known as the Maharal, or Judah Löwe ben Bezalel, created a statue out of clay and brought it to life with the word “emet”, truth, written on his forehead. In doing so he created a helper and a protector for the people of the Ghetto.

He would ask the Golem to help, and six days a week, the Golem would do so. But every Friday evening, the rabbi would deactivate the Golem, so as to allow him to rest on the Sabbath.

One day, the rabbi was preoccupied – he was praying for the health of his ill daughter. He completely forget to “turn off” the Golem, and when the Golem realised he was still activated after the Sabbath began, he went mad.

The rabbi tried to figure out a way to stop the Golem’s rampage, and he found one. He managed to swipe off the first letter of the word “emet”, leaving behind “met”, meaning “dead”. The day was saved, but the Golem was dead, and his lifeless body was buried in the genizah, the attic of the Old-New Synagogue.

It’s always been one of my favourite stories, and I feel it contains exactly the parts that to me make Prague such an amazing city. It has magic, and drama, and tragedy. But it’s also grounded in reality – the Maharal was a real figure of Jewish Prague of the late 16th century.

And why would he be flying?

I know, Golems don’t usually fly. It’s hardly usual for a man-sized hunk of clay to lift off and soar to the skies. But what if it could?

The Flying Golem represents the freedom to go from place to place, one part of history to the next, and explore along the way. I’m looking forward to all the things I’ll be learning and discovering, and I hope you’ll join me as well!