Prague (Praha)

Prague is a capital of the Czech Republic and it is said to be a heart of Europe. In middle ages (středověk) it was a big important city in the time of the king Charles IV. Now it is the most important political, economic and cultural centre of our country and a place of residence of our president Václav Havel, and the Czech Government. Nowadays Prague is a city of one and a half million inhabitants.

Prague is divided into 10 districts. Districts 1 and 2 comprise a historical centre, visited by tourists very much. The other districts are of industrial areas or estates.(sídliště) The historical centre is very nice. There is a Venceslas square, which is the largest and most important square in Prague. Is typical for a statue of St. Venceslas on the horse in upper (horní) part of the square. This statue was made by a Czech sculptor Myslbek. There is a lot of small cafeterias, fastfoods and restaurants. Many people sell their product on the streets. We can find small shops in Jalta arcade (pasáž), Blaník arcade and Lucerna arcade with a big ball hall. On the top of the square there is the National Museum. From the Venceslas square we can go to the Republic square along the Na příkopě street which is known for the Mark and Spencer shopping centre.

On the Republic square there is the Kotva department store, where you can do shoppings easily. There is also the Masaryk railway station, named by the first Czech president. Not far from itthere is the Powder Gate (prašná brána). But from the Venceslas square we can go also to the Opletalova street, where lots of big firms have their buildings, via (směrem) the Main station, (hlavní nádraží) or via the Old Town square with small markets when you can buy little things like pictures of Prague, little cups with names, big colourful hats, little items made of silver or some other souvenirs. This square is well known for the Astronomical clock (Orloj) with twelve apostles going around beyond (v prostoru za) two little windows every hour. It is the place where 27 Czech noblemen were executed.

From the Old Town square we can go to the Charles bridge. This bridge was built by Charles IV, when the Judita’s bridge was torn down by the flood (povodeň). Other bridges are interesting too. On the right side it is the bridges Mánes bridge, Svatopluk Čech bridge, Šverma bridge, Hlávka bridge, Libeňský bridge and Barikádníků bridge, on the left side the bridges Legií bridge, Jirásek bridge, Palacký bridge, Železniční bridge, Barandovský bridge and Inteligence bridge.

The Vltava river is very wide in Prague. There are several weirs (jezy) on the river. A very long one is near the old Prague Mills (mlýny). These buildings are no longer used as mills. In one of them there is the Smetana museum. In this museum you can find many documents connected with life & music of this great Czech composer.

In the past the Jews (židé) were not allowed to live in any other place but the ghetto. The Old – New Synagogue was the centre of the Prague Ghetto. The Synagogue is known for the Jewish cemetery. It is very attractive and interesting for foreigners.

The famous area of Kampa is situated along the Vltava river. Many people go there for a walk. We know many legends about non – human creatures from Kampa. From Kampa we can go to the Petřín hill, with a large park.. Many people living in the centre go there for a walk, jogging, or with dogs or children. On the top there is a look out – tower similar to the Eiffel tower in Paris, but it is five times smaller. People can do sports there or in the nearby Strahov stadium, or on the Letná field. Letná field is also the place where demonstrations are hold.

The most famous area for tourists is the Prague castle. It is the seat of the president. There you can visit for example the Golden lane (zlatá ulička). Old legends say that several centuries ago royal alchemist lived & worked in the little houses of this narrow lane. Alchemists tried to make gold but they never succeeded (uspět). Some of the houses were changed to shops. Another place good for visiting in the Prague castle is the Vladislav Hall. In the middle ages is was the largest hall in Prague. Here many ceremonies such as the coronation of the king took place. Now the election of the president of the republic take place in this hall. The St. Vitus Cathedral stands near the Castle. Charles IV started building it in 1344. The building of it lasted 6 centuries & was finished in the 20’s of this century. The cathedral is in gothic style.

Slavín is the cemetery of our greatest writers, composers, or people who are very important for Czech culture.

You will certainly recognise (poznat) the National theatre standing on the Vltava embankment (nábřeží). In the last century the Czech people wanted to have their own theatre where Czech operas, dramas and plays could be performed People collected money for it. Unfortunately it burned down not long after its opening. So people built it again.

If you like travelling you can go by bus to Zbraslav and visit the Zbraslav Church with remains of three Czech rulers: Václav II, Přemysl Otakar II, Eliška Přemyslovna.

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