Sightseeing in Prague
Prague Charles Bridge
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is the enchanting capital of the Czech Republic and has a population of about 1.2 million. With the recent expansion of the European Union, Prague is almost at the very center of Europe. Known as a city of secrets and mysteries, you are certain to find it exciting. Since medieval times, Prague has been considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This beautiful city deserves at least 3 nights to see her top sights but you can easily enjoy 4 or 5 nights in the "City of a Hundred Spires."
Below are some key events in the history of Prague. You will also find general information to help you plan and enjoy a trip to this fascinating city such as currency, taxis and public transportation.
Prague History 101
In the 4th century B.C. the Celts inhabited the area which is now the Czech Republic. One of these tribes gave the area its name, Boiohaumum (Bohemia). Bohemia was a province in the western and middle area of the current Czech Republic bounded by Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Austria to the south and the province of Moravia to the east. Prague was the capital of Bohemia and Brno the capital of Moravia. These historical regions combined are known as the current Czech Republic.
In the 7th century A.D., Princess Libuse was married. She predicted that one day a great city will be here on the Vltva River. Her marriage started the Premysl Dynasty.
In the 10th century Vaclav I is murdered by his brother. He is later called Good King Wenceslas and becomes the country's patron Saint. His feast day is celebrated on September 28th.
In 1346 Charles IV is crowned the King of Bohemia and two years later he founded the Charles University in Prague. At this time period, Prague is the largest city in Europe. Charles was also the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nations.
Protestant reformer, Jan Hus, is burned at the stake in 1415 becoming a martyr for the Protestant movement.
In 1526 a Duke from the Hapsburg Dynasty became the King of Bohemia. The Hapsburgs rule the Czechs until 1918 and the defeat of Germany and Austria in WWI. With the Hapsburg Dynasty over, the Czechoslovakia became an independent republic.
In 1939 the German army invaded and the areas of Bohemia and Moravia fell under their control. The area of Slovakia became an independent fascists state. In 1945, five thousand people died in four days during the Prague Uprising. Prague was liberated from the Nazis, by the Soviets. In 1948 the Czech Communist Party assumed power and remained in control until 1989.
In the spring of 1968 the Communist Party Chairman tried to put a softer touch on Socialism. This included releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. These liberal ideas did not sit well with other Communists and on August 20,1968, the Warsaw Pact army troops invaded. To protest the invasion, Jan Plach, a young philosophy student set himself on fire on the steps of the National Museum.
On November 19th, 1989 over 200,000 people gathered in Wenceslas Square to demand democracy. The demonstrations became so strong that the government gave in. This event is referred to as the Velvet Revolution.
At the end of 1992, Czechoslovakia divided into two independent states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This event is jokingly referred to as the Velvet Divorce.
On May 1st, 2004 the Czech Republic became a member of the European Union.
The Czech Crown (CZK) is the official currency. Some businesses may accept Euros or even US Dollars but they are not required to do so. One US Dollar buys about 25 Crowns.
Prague has three Metro lines and an extensive tram and bus system. You can purchase single ride tickets or passes that are valid for one, three or seven days. These can be purchased at the metro stops and newstands. An honor system is in place for single tickets so validate the ticket by punching it in the validation box. A fine must be paid on the spot if you do not have a validated ticket or pass. The public transportation is safe, but like any major city, be aware of pickpockets.
Because of problems with scams, most hotels can make arrangements for a car and driver to meet you at the airport. If you plan to take a taxi, you should agree on a price in advance. From the airport you can expect to pay about $20 USD (450 Crowns).
To help you better understand the city's layout, we have divided the best sights in Prague by area. Please also visit our pages about Hradcany (the Castle Area), Staré Mesto (the Old Town) and Josefov (Jewish Prague).
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St. Vitus Cathedral
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