Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is a city with over one million inhabitants. The city is located in the center of the Bohemian plain, and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and fascinating European cities. Rich in history, art, baroque and gothic architecture, with picturesque views. Prague is one of the most important tourist attractions of Central Europe, and is, one of the European city most visited by tourists.
On the left bank of the Vltava are the districts of Staré Mesto (the Old Town) and Josefov (the ancient Jewish ghetto). To the south of these is Nové Mesto (the New Town) while on the other bank of the river is the Mala Strana neighborhood with the Citadel. In 1992 the historic center of the city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Old Town, the Lower Town and the New Town demonstrate the great cultural and architectural development that this city had since the Middle Ages.
The many magnificent monuments that characterize it, such as the Hrad Castle, the Cathedral of San Vito, the Charles Bridge and the numerous churches and palaces, were mostly built in the 14th century under the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Prague is located in a hilly area along the Vltava River and has been one of the economic and cultural centers of Central Europe for centuries. The city was also an ancient capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
THE HISTORY OF PRAGUE
The area where today stands Prague was probably inhabited from the Upper Palaeolithic, in the third century BC, was the site of a Celtic settlement. The current city was built around a castle built in the ninth century on the hill where today is the famous Prague Castle (Hradcany), a few decades later, in the tenth century, on a hill across the river was built the fort of Vyšehrad, in this period the city became the residence of the kings of Bohemia and a bishopric.
Due to its location at the center of important communication routes Prague became an important commercial center, home to the market, which was held in the settlement of Stare Mesto (Old Town), built in the ninth century on the right bank of the Modava. In the thirteenth century, to the south of the castle, always on the left bank of the river, was founded the neighborhood of Malá Strana (Lesser Town), which became the seat of the German population of the city.
CAPITAL OF THE SACRED ROMAN EMPIRE
The 14th century saw Prague the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and one of the most important and cosmopolitan cities on the European continent. At the time, Jewish, German, and Italian merchants and bankers resided there. A new city was built south of the Old Town, called Nové Město (New Town). Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral were built, and the Carolina University was founded there in 1348. The city became an archiepiscopal seat and a mint was installed there to mint coins.
In the 16th century Prague became part of the Habsburg possessions. Under the emperor Rudolf II the city was re-elected to the seat of the imperial court, becoming one of the capitals of European culture and attracting scientists, artists, writers and alchemists from all over Europe.
In the seventeenth century, during the Thirty Years War, the city experienced a rapid decline which led to a drastic reduction of the population. It was not until the 18th century that Prague started growing again. At the beginning of this century, a quarter of the city’s population was made up of Jews. Over the course of the century, commerce enriched many inhabitants, mostly bankers and merchants, and wealthier families built and enriched the city with numerous Baroque buildings. Until the mid-19th century, the majority of Prague’s inhabitants were of German language and culture.
- Population: 1,288,696 (2011)
- Height: 180/400 meters above sea level.
FLIGHTS: Prague – Ruzyne airport is the largest in the country and is an international airport. Here flights from the main European destinations land frequently. The flag carrier is Czech Airlines. About 16 kilometers from the center, the airport provides the passenger with a bus and taxi service to reach the city. Several airlines connect the Czech Republic with the main European cities.
GETTING AROUND: The city is served by three underground subway lines, as well as tram and bus.