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“During my visit to Unterpraug I suddenly realised what had happened to all the cats from the surface. I could barely finish my suspiciously furry hamburger!”
Unterpraug (Literally, Under Prague in the Dutch-German hybrid native language of the Unterpraugen) is comprised of the 80% of the city of Prague that is below ground, and is accessible only by special permission through selected hidden entrances across the city. Many of Prague's citizens tolerate the loud noises from below the ground in exchange for the trade of precious materials for the city's overabundant supply of sausages.
edit The Dig
In 1845, during a period of time in which Communists decided how best to spend their time by letting every citizen have one wish granted by Stalin, the city of Prague began digging under the surface in order to create what one farmer called "a network of linked metal creatures trained to transport people from place to place". Obviously a fevered dream of a madman, the project was soon abandoned when it became clear that the ground they were digging in contained a large supply of rock.
edit Sudden Expansion
Digging tripled overnight as citizens rushed to capture their own stake in the so-called "Grey Gold" and before long the hollow area underneath the city had spread to the size of Australia. Nervous about the effect that this would have on Prague's foundations, those who had not heeded the call to dig created a cave-in that blocked all entrances as well as reducing the underground area to roughly the same size that it is today.
edit Formation of Unterpraug
After the collapse, and with orders to remove as much rock as possible, the people trapped underground began to get restless, rejecting the clearly superior communist ideal. As it looked like rebellion was likely to cause an upset bringing the city of Prague crashing down upon them, one man stepped up to unite the undercity under his own rule. Fjordic Gunjerson, a Dutch tourist, cried out to those around him to lay down their arms and pick up their shovels. Captivated by his words, but unable to understand them, they eventually shaped their society around his vague hand gestures. Unable to understand anything that the Czechs around him was saying, Gunjerson had in fact been complaining loudly about being nudged all the time. In later years he would form a new language with a small German girl who saw the benefits of being in with the king, and a new era of rule began.
edit Trade With Prague
After forming the first of the new tunnels to the surface, Gunjersson began to arrange a meeting with those left on the surface. Seeing him emerging from the ground in a suit made of solid rock, the Prague citizens immediately began to regret their decision, instigating an agreement that is still in place today. The surface dwellers would trade their sausages, which hang from street vendors' carts, for the underground rock. The denizens of the underground city would also be allowed to venture up onto the surface for one day each year, being required to return underground by dawn the next day.
Although the Unterpragen are permitted to take their day's passage to the surface at any time during the year (starting April 30th) most feel a natural urge to ascend on a particular day - named the Unternacht. Occuring on the day that the clocks go back each year, roughly three quarters of the population travel to Prague and wreak havok upon the city. During this time citizens of Prague's surface are advised to lock and bar their doors and windows, lest they be dragged underground when the sun rises.
Feasting on the stews and Absynth left out for them on the streets, the Unterpragen sing songs in deep guttural tones and bathe in the green waters of the Vltava river. Many look for discarded clothes and shovels, left by kind hearted or forgetful city-folk, in order to replace those lost in the year previous. Gathering in Old Town as the clock strikes thirteen, a ceremonial burning of a giant straw nesting doll marks the peak of the night's festivities. It is also notable that many Unterpraugen (and some red-faced surface-dwellers) find themselves with the patter of tiny feet nine months after this event.
edit Known Entrances
Access to Unterpraug is usually through one of a small supply of secure entrances. An example of this is the elevator in Tesco's. Unlike other, more difficult to discover stores, Prague's Tesco has bright lights surrounding the roof to ensure that any denizens of Unterpraug return to the underground after their officially sanctioned day on the surface. Access to Unterpraug is granted by pressing the "01" button, conspicuously placed next to a "1" button on the same panel. Normally inactive, the use of a key to the city will send the elevator on its safe, pleasant 137-foot descent. Other notable entrances include:
- A well in the basement of Prague's oldest restaurant in New Town (visible through glass window in floor)
- Secret fireman's pole slide down Prague Castle's Great South Tower
- Underwater airlock located under the "Botel Admiral" on the Vltava river
Locations of entrances change over time due to cave-ins, security breaches and building over doors people had forgotten were there. It is rare for people to visit Unterpraug from the surface, these entrances mainly being used as a means of return for the Unterpraugen, however it has been allowed on certain special occasions, such as when Oscar Wilde wanted to visit.