PRAGUE is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic and fourteenth-largest city in the European Union. The city is divided in two by the Vltava River.
The city has been a political, cultural, and economic center of central Europe during its 1,100-year existence.
Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and the one time capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
Originally, Prague was composed of five independent towns: Hradcany (the Castle Area), Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Staré Mesto (Old Town), Nové Mesto (New Town), and Josefov (Jewish Quarter).
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of twentieth century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square and the Jewish Quarter.
Since 1992, the extensive historic center of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Prague's medieval astronomical clock is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. Originally installed in 1410, it is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.
Since the Middle Ages, Prague has been known as one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Some of its several nicknames include "the golden city", "heart of Europe", "city of a hundred spires", and "Rome of the North".
Author Franz Kafka described ghouls that lived under the streets of Prague who banged their drums, allowing strange noises to seep to the surface. He claimed these noises influenced his writing.
Did You Know? The Czech Republic is the world's largest consumer of beer. The average person drinks 45 gallons of beer annually.
Charles Bridge The Charles Bridge is one of Prague's most beautiful and popular attractions. The 14th century stone bridge crosses the Vltava River and links Lesser Town with Old Town. King Charles IV commissioned the bridge and the foundation stone was laid in 1357. For over 600 years, wheeled traffic would cross each day. Today, it is only for pedestrian use. There are three bridge towers, two on the Lesser Town side and one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is considered to be one of the most amazing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. During the day, the bridge is packed with visitors, painters, kiosks, vendors and musicians. The Charles Bridge webcam offers a glimpse of this magnificent structure.
Jewish Cemetery & Museum The Jewish Quarter is the home of the remains of Prague's former Jewish Ghetto. The buildings in the Quarter contain the best preserved Jewish historical monuments in Europe. There are six synagogues, the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery. The Old Jewish Cemetery is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery. It was founded in 1478. Due to lack of space, the deceased were buried on top of each other. It is estimated there are at least 100,000 people interred here. There are over 12,000 gravestones. The last burial was in 1787. Two of the most prominent graves are those of Mordechai Maisel and Rabi Low.
Old Town Square Old Town Square is one of the most beautiful historic sites in Europe and a popular attraction in Prague. It began as a central marketplace in the 12th century. Old Town Square is one of the two main squares in the city, the other being Wenceslas Square. Surrounding the square are buildings featuring Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic architecture. The favorite sight in the square is the Old Town Hall Tower and Astronomical Clock. For stunning views over the city, visit the Old Town Hall Tower. With numerous restaurants and cafes, Old Town Square is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing break.
Prague Castle The Prague Castle is the premiere visitor's attraction. It's the largest medieval castle complex in Europe, sitting on 18 acres with numerous courtyards and buildings. The Castle has been home to a Czech King, a president and a Roman Emperor. The courtyards are free, but to enter any of the buildings and see the stunning interiors, it is necessary to buy a ticket, and well worth the price. Today, Prague Castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and also serves as the historical and political center. Don't miss the changing of the guards at noon at the main gates.
Wenceslas Square Wenceslas Square, named after a patron saint of Bohemia, Saint Wenceslas, has more the shape of a boulevard than a square. It is the center of business and cultural activities, the site of many historical events and a setting for events, demonstrations and other public activities. At one end of the square is the grand Czech National Museum. The opposite end is the border between Old and New Towns