Praha or Prague is the capital city as well as the business, administrative and cultural centre of the Czech Republic. It is one of the most beautiful and one of the most visited cities in Europe. Prague is called “a City of a Hundred Spires”.
It has the area of 500 square kilometres and the population of approximately 1.3 million. Its altitude is 200 metres above the sea level on average. Prague is situated on the Vltava river, which is the longest river in the Czech Republic. There are 17 bridges that cross the river. The best known, most beautiful and oldest of them all is the gothic Charles Bridge (Karlův most) decorated with 30 Baroque sculptural groups from 1357. Prague is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic (Prague Castle – Pražský hrad) and the government.
The historical centre of Prague consists of Old Town, Lesser Town, Hradčany, New Town and Josefov (Jewish Quarter).
OLD TOWN (STARÉ MĚSTO)
The Old Town is the oldest part of Prague. Its centre is the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) with the well-known Astronomical Clock which is situated on the Old Town City Hall. Its complicated medieval mechanism still works today. You can see 12 moving sculptures of Apostles in the windows above the clock dial every hour.
LESSER TOWN (MALÁ STRANA)
Lesser Town is the second oldest part of Prague. It was established by Ottokar II of Bohemia (Přemysl Otakar II). A romantic river Čertovka and an island Kampa are to be found in this district. The houses are built right next to the river and so this part is also called Little Prague Venice or Czech Venice. The most beautiful Baroque church – Saint Nicholas Church (kostel sv. Mikuláše) built by K. Diezenhoffer is situated on Lesser Town Square.
We can recommend visiting Loreta which is situated near the Prague Castle. Prague Castle (Hradčany or Pražský hrad) is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and in the past it was the seat of Czech kings and emperors. The castle was founded in 880, it was gradually extended as more and more premises were added and nowadays it is the largest castle compound in the world. Among the most important buildings of the Prague Castle there are St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála svatého Víta) – the largest gothic cathedral in the Czech Republic, old Royal Palace (starý královský palác) and St. George’s Basilica (bazilika sv. Jiří) built in Romanesque style. A well-known place is also Golden Lane (Zlatá ulička), where according to a legend alchemists lived in the Medieval times. You can also find a house of a known Czech writer Franz Kafka in Golden Lane.
NEW TOWN (NOVÉ MĚSTO)
Nowadays New Town is the modern centre of Prague. This district of Prague was established by the King of Bohemia, German King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (Karel IV) in the 14th century. Its centre is Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí), which is 750 m long. A beautiful building of the National Museum (Národní muzeum) and Wenceslas Monument (socha sv. Václava) are situated here.
Formerly known as Jewish Quarter. Today Prague has the second largest and best known Jewish Quarter in Europe. You can visit synagogues here – the oldest one is the Gothic Old New Synagogue (Staronová synagoga), and the Old Jewish Cemetery (Starý židovský hřbitov), which is the most valuable Jewish Cemetery in the world.
There are many other interesting places worth visiting in Prague – for example Petřín with Petřín Lookout Tower (Petřínská rozhledna), which is a smaller copy of French Eiffel Tower, Vyšehrad with national cemetery Slavín (where eminent personalities of the Czech history are buried), a large number of museums, galleries, exhibitions, concerts of classical as well as popular music. Prague has a beautiful ZOO, too.