"The “city of hundred spires”" Prague by Bjorgvin

Prague Travel Guide: 11,872 reviews and 24,810 photos


Prague is one of Europe's finest cities and a major economic and cultural centre. The city has a rich architectural heritage, and in 1992 the historic city centre was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List. Settlements began to develop thousands of years ago on the banks of the Vltava River where it was crossed by trade routes linking northern and southern Europe. The Celts settled there from about 500 to 200 BC, but Slavs appeared in 4th century AD and then the Avars. The first settlement at Prague has been traced to the second half of the 9th century. On a hill on the east bank was built the Vyšehrad (hrad = castle) in commanding position overlooking the river. Another castle, Hradcany, was then built on the west bank a little downstream. From around 800 AD Prague became the centre for political power and the nucleus of the Bohemian state founded by the Premyslid dynasty, which stayed in power until 1306. The most famous kings of that dynasty are probably St. Wenceslas and Boleslav I, under whom the community flourished. In 973, a few years after Boleslav´s death, was founded the bishopric of Prague. When the house of Luxembourg came to power began a new era. Charles IV, Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor, had his capital at Prague from 1346 to 1378 and took personal interest in the development of the city. He founded there the first university in central Europe, Charles University, and he also had the famous Charles Bridge (1357) and the foundations of the great St. Vitus' Cathedral built. By the 14th century Prague had become a major central European city and an archbishopric with its own university. Prague played a significant role in the Reformation (Jan Hus and his followers) and later the Thirty Years' War. In 1526 the Roman Catholic Habsburgs became rulers of Bohemia and attempted to crush Czech Protestantism for good. They did not succeed at first. However, the protestant forces were defeated at the Battle of the White Mountain, near the city, in 1620. In the decades that followed the city was in decline as were large parts of central Europe during the religious wars. With more settled political conditions the city began to prosper again in the 18th century. From that period are the many magnificent Baroque style palaces and gardens, and churches in the city. In 1918 Prague became the capital of the newly independent Czechoslovak republic and again after World War II under communist rule. In November 1989 four decades of communist rule in Czechoslovakia ended and in 1993 Slovakia seceded to form an independent state. Since then Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. It was designated a European City of Culture in 2000.



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  • Last visit to Prague: May 1999
  • Intro Updated Aug 14, 2003
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Bjorgvin

“The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time - W. B. Yeats”

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