Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, the seat of the President, government and parliament and the political, cultural and economic center of the country. It spreads out on both banks of the river Vltava in the center of Bohemia. It occupies an area of almost 500 square kilometers and has 1.2 million inhabitants. The whole city consist of 10 administrative districts. The oldest parts are the Old town, The Lesser Town, the New Town, Josefov, Hradčany and Vyšehrad.
A legend connects the foundation of Prague with Princess Libuše of the Přemysl dynasty who prophesied the future glory of Prague which “would touch the stars”. The oldest settlement of this area goes back to the Stone Age but the Slovanic tribes came to the Prague valley in the 6th century. In the 9th century Prince Bořivoj I. founded a castle on a headland above the Vltava valley and it became the seat of princes of the Přemysl dynasty. In the 10th century another castle, Vyšehrad, was built and it became temporarily a seat of the Přemysl Princes too. Prague became the imperial residence of Charles IV. and during his reign it flourished and grew. Charles IV. established an Archbischopric, founded Charles University and the New Town, and promoted the construction of Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral. In the 15th century Prague was the center of Hussite Movement. In year 1420 John Žižka defeated the first anti-Hussite crusade on Vítkov Hill. At the end of the 16th century Prague regained its cosmopolitan character again when it became the seat of Rudolph II, who invited artists and scientists there (Tycho de Brahe, Johannes Kepler).
On November 8, 1620 the Czech estates rose up against the Habsburgs and were defeated in the Battle of the White Mountain, near the place, where the Star Summer Palace and Enclosure stands untill now. A few months later, in 1621, 27 representatives of the uprising were executed in the Old Town Square. The Thirty Year’s War, re-catholicization and germanization followed. At the end of 18th century it became the center of Czech cultural life when Czech scholars and writers began the process of national revival. In 1918 Prague was the capital of the independent Czechoslovak Republic again. In 1939 it was occupied by German troops and in 1942 severaly persecuted after the assassination of the Nazi deputy protector Reinhardt Heydrich. After the Prague Uprising against the fascists the town was liberated by the Russians on 9th May, 1945. The August occupation of Prague in 1968 stopped the democratic reforms in the country and began the process of “normalization”. On 17th November, 1989, the Velvet Revolution began democratic changes in our society. The whole process continued with the splitting of former federal Czechoslovakia into two independent states and thus, on 1st January, 1993, Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic.
Without any doubt, the Prague Castle, the seat of the President is the dominant of the city. The monumental complex of the Castle includes three courtyards and over 700 rooms. The most impressive building at the Castle is St. Vitus Cathedral. It was completed in year 1929, a thousand years after the foundation of the fist church on this site. Besides that there are another significant buildings. For example: Vladislav Hall, Spanish Hall, Rudolph Gallery, Basilica of St. George, Royal Summer Palace Belvedere in the castle Garden and the Golden Lane made up of tiny houses with colored facades.
Along Neruda Street we can go from the Castle to the Lesser Town below. The jewel of Baroque architecture is St. Nicholas Church in the Lesser Town Square, the masterpiece of Ignatz Kilian Dientzenhofer and Lurago. From the square we can easily get to the Charles Bridge over the river Vltava. It is long 520 meters and is decorated with 30 sculptures. Along Charles Street we can go to the Old Town Square, the center of the Old Town. The best known buildings in the square are the Old Town Hall, Kinský Palace, Týn Church and John Huss Monument too.
But Prague is not only historical city. It is mainly cultural city of the year 2000.
27. leden 2008