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Prague Travel guide

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Prague

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Travel Guide

Prague - history

The history of the city goes back to the foundation of Prague Castle by Borivoj in 870 AD. Prague Castle has been a symbol of Czech history for centuries. After 894 it became the main seat of the oldest ruling dynasty of the state Bohemia, the Premyslid princes (Premyslovci). The first to leave a written record of the existence of a busy commercial centre and settlement below Prague Castle was the Arab-Jewish merchant Ibrahim Jakub, who visited Prague in 965 or 966 and described it as a town “built of stone and mortar “. During the first half of the 11th century, on the opposite bank of the Vltava another castle was founded, called Vysehrad. The house of the Premyslids, also present at its birth, thereby demarcated future settlement areas. At the same time the first stone bridge (Judith‘s) was built.
In 1230 Prague became a town during 13th century the Old Town and the Lesser Town were founded by colonization. The beginning of the fourteenth century saw a series of dynastic disputes - beginning with the death of Vaclav II from consumption and excess in 1305.The following year, the murder of his son , the heiress, Vaclav III, marked the end of the Premyslid dynasty and Bohemia was left without any heirs.

In 1310 Czech nobles offered the throne to John of Luxembourg but it was his son Charles IV (1346-1378), king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who ushered in Prague´s golden age and made it his residential capital. King Charles IV carried out the reconstruction of Prague in High Gothic style, adding new, expensive buildings such as the Castle, at Vysehrad and in the town. He founded the oldest university in Central Europe in Prague (1348) (now called Charles University), founded and built the New Town of Prague (1348) and adorned his residential town with numerous structures and public buildings like Charles Bridge(1357), magnificent St. Vitus' cathedral, the Slavonic Abbey, the church at Karlov and many others). With its 40 000 inhabitants and covering an area of 8.1 sq. km Prague became one of the largest towns in Europe at that time (second only to Rome according to some sources). Shortly after the Emperor's death in 1378 difficulties cropped up.

There was stagnation and economic troubles, all fertile soil for demands that the Church reform itself. This movement reached its climax with the preachings of Jan Hus. In 1415 he was condemned by the Council in Constance to be burned at the stake. After his death it changed this movement into a Hussite revolution (1419 - 1434) which began after the de-fenestration of the Counsellors through the windows of the New Town Hall. In 1458 George of Podedrady ascended the throne of Bohemia. This first and last Hussite king is remembered primarily for his commitment to promoting religious tolerance and for his far-sighted efforts in trying to establish some sort of “ Peaceful Confederation“ in Europe. Disadvantageous political circumstances held up the city's return to prosperity even during the reign of the Jagiello dynasty, King Vladislav II and King Louis (1471 - 1526).

In 1541 there was a great fire at Prague Castle, in Hradcany and the Lesser Town. Nor did Prague become the seat of the throne when Ferdinand the Roman Catholic Habsburg was elected King of Bohemia (1526 ) and the Kingdom of Bohemia became part of the Habsburg monarchy and after the defeat of the first anti-Habsburg uprising of the Bohemian Estates (1547) the Prague Towns people lost a large part of their property and political privileges. But it was a period when culture flourished thanks to the personality and court of the art-loving Emperor Rudolph II (1576-1612) who moved his seat to Prague in 1583 and endowed Prague‘s galleries with the best Mannerist art in Europe and invited the respected astrologist Tycho de Brahe and Johannes Kepler and other famous scientists. From 1575 to 1577 there was a struggle over the Bohemian Confession, from 1608 to 1611 one of the focal points was the question of a successor to Rudolph II.

In 1618 the Imperial Governors were thrown out through the window of Prague Castle (the second de-fenestration) and the first act of the Czech revolt against the Habsburgs, the prologue to the Thirty Years War, began. After the defeat in the major uprising of the Bohemian Estates at the Battle of the White Mountain (1620) Prague lost the rest of its political privileges, land property and the leading members of the intelligentsia, who were forced to emigrate to avoid the harsh re-introduction of Catholicism. In the aftermath , 27 leaders -Protestant nobles- were executed. Among the insurgent beheaded in 1621 in the Old Town Square, 15 were from Prague, countless others were condemned to prison terms, their property confiscated. For the last ten years of the war, Bohemia became the main battleground between the new champions of the Protestant cause -the Swedes- and the imperial Catholic forces. In 1648 imperial collections were looted from the Castle by Swedes Yet after the Thirty Year's War it underwent a remarkable reconstruction in the characteristic style of ``Prague'' (Bohemian) Baroque. Prague was filled with palaces, churches and conventional buildings representing the aesthetic trends of European High Baroque. (e.g. Jesuit college Clementinum, St. Nicholas church in the Lesser Town were built) But still the next two centuries of Habsburg rule are known to the Czechs as the “dark ages “ especially because of intensive Germanization. The situation was so bad that Prague and most other urban centres became practically all-German cities and the Czech language was slowly dying out.

Unmistakable signs of reawakening appeared in Prague towns at the outset of the 18th century. Commercial life developed favourably and many factories started working in the city. In 1784 Emperor Joseph II merged the four historical Prague Towns (the Old Town, New Town, Lesser Town and Hradcany) into one unified Capital City of Prague, which became the core of industrialization of Bohemia and the centre of Bohemian national revival. In Prague in the Josephine era the most diverse influences came to bear, giving rise to favourable conditions for the advance of the Czech National Reawakening.

This process reached a culmination after the revolutionary year 1848 with the emancipation of the Czech nation and the building of Prague as its capital city. A necessary consequence of constant conflicts between the old and the new was the revolution of 1848 which opened wide the doors of Prague to the establishment of private industry and firms. From 1848 to 1914 Prague grew at a dizzying pace. It became one of the most industrialized cities in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The stone foundation of the National Theatre were laid in 1868, in 1890 an establishment of the Czech Academy of Science and Arts began and the construction of a representative building of the National Museum.

The most famous political figure at that time was the Prague university professor Tomas Garrigue Masaryk who founded his own Realist Party in 1900 and began to put forward the concept of closer cooperation between the Czechs and Slovak and who became our first president (1918- 1937). After the fall of the Austro- Hungarian Empire on October 28, 1918, the Czechoslovakian Republic was declared in Prague and Prague became the capital of the independent republic and new prospects unfolded for its development. The return to glory as the seat of the head of State foretold its prestigious re-entry among European capitals. In the twenty years of the First Republic (1918 - 1938) it almost succeeded in achieving this aim. The new nation of Czechoslovakia began postwar life in an enviable economic position- tenth in the world industrial league table. Prague regained its position ast the centre of the country‘s political and cultural life.

At the end of the 30's, on 15th of March 1939, Hitler's armies occupied Prague. The anti-fascist resistance of the people of Prague lasted more than six years, and, after the closure of the Czech universities on 17 November 1939 (International Student's Day) and the assassination of the ``Reichsprotektor'' R. Heydrich (27 May 1942), reached its culmination in the Prague Uprising (5-9 May 1945). The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia rose to power in Prague and Czechoslovakia after the May 1946 elections and February Events of 1948, called „Victorious February „ when the Communist party took to the streets arming „workers militia „ units to defend the country against a counter-revolution and on February 25 they organised the country‘s biggest-ever demonstration in Prague.

After 1945 Prague's role, size, structure and social importance were decided even more emphatically by national aspects imposed on it, without taking much account of the city's own development needs. The growth of Prague slowed down, only increasing contradictions between the tempo of life and the backwardness of its organism. With the Cold War in full swing the Stalinization of Czechoslovakian society was quick to follow. Despite a striking growth in industrial production (to twelve times that of 1948), explosive housing construction (150,000 flats), major investment in the Prague Metro, bridges across the Vltava river, and new road systems the development of Prague between 1948 to 1989 did not reach pre-war parameters, and the town gradually began to lag behind other European metropolises.

In the year 1968 movement demanding „socialism with a human face „ reached its climax. This events of the ,so-called „Prague Spring“ , under Dubchek, led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On August 21st, 1968, five countries of the Warsaw Pact occupied Prague. The subsequent period (1969-1989) of so-called normalization wiped out all democratic trends and intensified the stagnation in all spheres of life. The only improvement was the partial renovation of the Historic Town Reservation of Prague, which forms a unique urban unit with more than 200 valuable historic buildings, one of the most renowned in Europe. In November 1989, a new chapter of national history began to be written in the square Vaclavske Namesti. On Friday, November 17, a peaceful demonstration was viciously attacked by the riot police ( we call this event the „Velvet revolution'). Prague‘s students began an occupation strike, joined by actors. Their main demand was simple : the resignation of the then in power hardline leaders. The result was free parliamentary and communal elections in the summer and autumn of 1990. On January 1st 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic.

Prague Sights, sightseeing, culture:

Travel Guide

Theatres, Ballet, Pantomime and Operas

The most important is The National Theatre Prague, founded 1883.

Laterna Magika, special performances which combine dance, sound, lights, pantomime, black-theatre, film projections and so on.

Current performances presents Ticketpro, reseller of tickets: Black Theatre, Theatre, Laterna Magika, Ballet, Pantomime and Opera.

Museums

The National Museum contains other museums and memorials; history, culture, society, nature, and so on, inxluding The Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Civilizations.

National Technical Museum

Museum of Decorative Arts exhibits an unique collection of craft object from glass, china, ceramics, wood, metal and other materials in many different ways.

Some other Museums and Galleries you cand find here.

Music

A "legend" says every czech is a musican. Maybe it isn't right, but you can enjoy music in Prague in many ways. The easiest one is to listen to radio stations.

Classic music: The Prague Spring 1998 Music Festival is always an extraordinary event, so why not listen to the music? You can listen to the music by our most known and best composers performed by Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, our the best known orchestras.

Jazz clubs and live performances.

Rock, Dance and Alternative try it yourself!

Folk & country Czech Plus Band isn't Prague based, but U.S. based "Three Presidents' Band".

Church Services

In Prague you can attend many religious services, various in type and language.

Prague offers many cultural events like exhibits, theatres, cinemas, concerts and many other.

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