2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: European Geography

Coordinates: 50°05′N 14°26′E

Prague (Praha), Czech Republic
Prague coat-of-arms
Capital city Czech Republic (Česká republika)
Population 1,183,729 (31 March 2006)
Area 496 km²
Coordinates 50°05′ N 14°26′ E
Elevation 177-399 m AMSL
Founded 9th century
Prague location map

Prague ( Czech: Praha ( IPA: [ˈpraɦa]), see also other names) is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated on the Vltava river in central Bohemia, it is home to approximately 1.2 million people. (It can be derived from jobs statistics, however, that an additional 300,000 work there without having registered as residents.)

Nicknames for Prague have included "city of a hundred spires" and "the golden city". Since 1992, the historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. According to Guinness World Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world.


The land where Prague was to be built has been settled since the Paleolithic Age. Several thousands of years ago, there were trade routes connecting southern parts of Europe to northern Europe which passed through this area, following the course of the river. From around 500 BC the Celt tribe known as the Boii, were the first known inhabitants of this region known by name. The Boii named the region Bohemia and the river Vltava. In between the 6th and the 9th AD the Germanic tribe Marcomanni migrated to Bohemia and other Germanic tribes followed during the 5th century AD, but in the 6th century their elites and majority of inhabitants moved to the Danubian area which enabled a Slavic tribe invading from the West, to settle this area. The Czech Slavic tribe came to Bohemia in the 6th century and Forefather Czech became the founder of the Czech nation.

Týn Church - a view from east of Prague.
Týn Church - a view from east of Prague.

According to legend, Princess Libuše, the sovereign of the Czech tribe, married a humble plowman by the name of Přemysl and founded the dynasty carrying the same name. The legendary Princess saw many prophecies from her castle Libusin, which was located in central Bohemia. (Archaeological finds dating back to the seventh century support this theory). In one prophecy, it is told, she foresaw the glory of Prague. One day she had a vision: "I see a vast city, whose glory will touch the stars! I see a place in the middle of a forest where a steep cliff rises above the Vltava River. There is a man, who is chiseling the threshold (prah) for the house. A castle named Prague (Praha) will be build there. Just as the princes and the dukes stoop in front of a threshold, they will bow to the castle and to the city around it. It will be honored, renowned of great repute, and praise will be bestowed upon it by the entire world."

From around 936, the Czech rulers got most of Bohemia under their control. The first Bohemian ruler acknowledged by the historians was Czech Prince Borivoj Premyslovec, who ruled in the second half of the 9th century. He and his wife Ludmila (who became a patron saint of Bohemia after her death) were baptized by Metodej, who (together with his brother Cyril) brought Christianity to Moravia in 863. Borivoj moved his seat from the fortified settlement Levý Hradec to a place called Prague (Praha). It was also called the Prague castle grounds or shortly Prague Castle. Since Borivoj's reign, it became the seat of the Czech rulers. (Prague Castle became the largest inhabited fortress in the world, and is the seat of the Czech president today).

Borivoj's grandson, Prince Wenceslas, initiated friendly relations with the Saxon dynasty. Wenceslas wanted Bohemia to become an equal partner in a bigger empire. (Just as Bohemia had belonged to Great Moravia in the 9th century and to Samo's empire in the 7th century; both of these empires had been founded to resist the attacks of the Avars). Orientation towards the Saxons was not favored by his brother Boleslav, and it was the main reason why Prince Wenceslas was assassinated on September 28, 929. He was buried at St. Vitus' Rotunda, the church which he founded. (It stood on the ground where St. Wenceslas' Chapel in St. Vitus' Cathedral now is). A few years later Wenceslas was canonized and he became Bohemia's most beloved patron saint. He is " Good King Wenceslas" from the Christmas carol. In 962, Boleslav changed his mind and Bohemia became part of the newly instituted Roman Empire when Otto I the Great from the Saxon dynasty became the emperor. (It was the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire, the exact term being adapted in the 12th century).

By the early 10th century, the area around and below Prague Castle had developed into an important seat for trading, where merchants coming from all over Europe gathered. In 965, a Jewish merchant and traveler, called Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub wrote: "Prague is built from stone and lime, and it has the biggest trade centre. Slavs are on the whole courageous and brave... They occupy the lands which are the most fertile and abundant with all the food supply."

In 973, a bishopric was founded in Bohemia with the bishop's palace located on the Prague castle grounds. The first Czech bishop was Adalbert who became a Czech, Polish and Hungarian patron saint after he was canonized in 999.

Next to the Romanesque fortified settlement of Prague, another Romanesque fortified settlement was built across the river Vltava at Vysehrad in the 11th century. During the reign of Prince Vratislav II, who rose to the title of King of Bohemia Vratislav I in 1085, Vysehrad became the temporary seat of Czech rulers.

Bridges of Prague.
Bridges of Prague.
Prague Castle at night.
Prague Castle at night.
Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge.
St. Vitus Cathedral.
St. Vitus Cathedral.
The Astronomical Clock
The Astronomical Clock

Prince Vladislav II rose to the title of King of Bohemia Vladislav I in 1158. Many monasteries and many churches were built under the rule of Vladislav I. The Strahov Monastery, built after the Romanesque style, was founded in 1142. The first bridge over the river Vltava — the Judith Bridge — was build in 1170. (It crumbled in 1342 and a new bridge, later called the Charles Bridge was built in its place in 1357).

In 1212, Bohemia became a kingdom when Prince Premysl Otakar I rose to the title of King by inheritance from Frederick II (Emperor from 1215), which was legalized in the document called the "Golden Bull of Sicily". The king's daughter became another Bohemian saint. Agnes preferred to enter the convent than to marry Emperor Frederick II.

In the 13th century, the towns started to rise. Three settlements around the Prague castle grounds gained the privilege of a town. The settlement below Prague Castle became New Town of Prague in 1257 under King Otakar II, and it was later renamed Little Quarter of Prague Malá Strana. The town of Hradčany which was built around its square, just outside of the Prague's castle grounds, dates to 1320. Across the river Vltava, the Old Town of Prague Staré Město had already gained the privilege of a town in 1230.

In the 13th century, King Premysl Otakar II was the most powerful king of the Holy Roman Empire during his reign, known as the King of Iron and Gold. He ruled in seven other countries, and his reign stretched from Silesia to the Adriatic coast.

The Premyslovec dynasty ruled until 1306 when the male line died out. The inheriting dynasty was the Luxembourg dynasty when Eliska, sister of the last Premyslovec ruler, married John of Luxembourg.

The city flourished during the 14th century during the reign of Charles IV, of the Luxembourg dynasty. Charles was the oldest son of Czech Princess Eliska Premyslovna and John of Luxembourg. He was born in Prague in 1316 and he became the King of Bohemia upon the death of his father in 1346. Due to Charles' efforts, the bishopric of Prague was raised to an archbishopric in 1344. On April 7, 1348 he founded the first university in central, northern and eastern Europe, which is today called the Charles University, which is the oldest Czech university and was the first German university . At the same year he also founded New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to Old Town. Charles rebuilt the Prague Castle and Vysehrad, and a new bridge was erected, now called the Charles Bridge. The construction of St. Vitus' Cathedral had also begun. Many new churches were founded. In 1355, Charles was crowned the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Rome. Prague became the capital of Holy Roman Empire. Charles wanted Prague to become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. He wanted Prague to be the dominant city in the whole empire, the Prague Castle the dominant site in the city and the stately Gothic Cathedral to be more dominant than Prague Castle. Everything was built in a grandiose Gothic style and decorated with an independent art style, called the Bohemian school. During the reign of Emperor Charles IV, the Czech Lands were among the most powerful in Europe.

All that changed during the reign of weak King Wenceslas IV, son of Charles IV. During the reign of King Wenceslas IV — Václav IV — (1378–1419), Master Jan Hus, a preacher and the university's rector, held his sermons in Prague in the Bethlehem Chapel, speaking in Czech to enlarge as much as possible the diffusion of his ideas about the reformation of the church. His execution in 1415 in Constance (of accused heresy) led four years later to the Hussite wars (following the defenestration, when the people rebelled under the command of the Prague priest Jan Želivský and threw the city's counselors from the New Town Hall). King Wenceslas IV died 16 days later. His younger stepbrother Sigismund was the legitimate one to inherit the crown. But the Hussites opposed Sigismund and so he came to Prague with an army of 30,000 crusaders. He planned to get capitulation of Prague and the crown. (It was Sigismund, who invited Jan Hus to Constance to defend himself from heresy and he promised him immunity, but he didn't keep his word). In 1420, peasant rebels, led by the famous general Jan Žižka, along with Hussite troops, defeated Sigismund (Zikmund, son of Charles IV) in the Battle of Vítkov Mountain. There were more crusades, all of which ended in failure. But after Zizka died, the Hussite were not united anymore. Eventually they split. The most radical Hussites were finally defeated at the battle of Lipany in 1434 when the moderate Hussites got together with the Czech Catholics. Sigismund became King of Bohemia.

In 1437, Sigismund died. The male line of Luxembourg dynasty died out. Husband of Sigismund's daughter Elizabeth, Duke of Austria Albert II, became the Bohemian king for two years (until his death). Then, the next in line for Bohemian crown was grandson of Sigismund, born after his father's death, and thus called Ladislaw Posthumous. When he died 17 years old, nobleman George of Podebrady, former advisor of Ladislaus, was chosen as the Bohemian king both by the Catholics and by the Ultraquist Hussites. He was called the Hussite king. During his reign, the pope called for the crusade against the Czech heretics. The crusade was lead by King of Hungary Matthius Corvinus who, after the crusade, became also King of Bohemia. George did not abdicate. Bohemia had two kings. George, before his death, made an arrangement with Polish King Casimir IV that the next Bohemian king will come from the Jagellon dynasty. (The wife of King Casimir IV was the sister of late Ladislaus Posthumous and so her son Vladislav was related to the Luxembourg dynasty and also to the original Bohemian Premyslovec dynasty). The Jagellon dynasty ruled only until 1526 when the Jagellon dynasty died out with Ludwig Jagellon, son of Vladislav Jagellon.

The next Bohemian king became Ferdinand Habsburg, husband of Ann Jagellon, who was sister of Ludwig Jagellon. It was the beginning of the Habsburg dynasty. After Ferdinand's brother Charles V resigned in 1556 as Emperor, Ferdinand was elected Emperor in 1558. After he died, his son Maximilian II inherited all his titles and then upon his death, his son Rudolf II inherited all the titles. It was during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, when there was another glorious time for Prague. Prague became the cultural centre of Holy Roman Empire again. Rudolf was related to the Jagellon dynasty, to the Luxemburg dynasty and to the Premyslovec dynasty. But he was also related to Spanish Joan the Mad (the daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon); Joan was the mother of Rudolf's grandfather. Although Rudolf II was very talented, he was eccentric and he suffered from depression. Emperor Rudolf II lived in Prague Castle, where he held his bizarre courts of the astrologers, the magicians and other strange figures. But it was a prosperous period for the city; famous people living there included the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johann Kepler, the painters Giuseppe Arcimboldo, B. Spranger, Hans von Aachen, J. Heintz and others. In 1609, under the influence of the Protestant estates, Rudolf II (a devout Catholic), issued "Imperial Charter of Emperor" in which he legalized extensive religious freedom unparalled in Europe of that period. Many German Protestants (both Lutherans and Calvinists) immigrated to Bohemia. (One of them was Count J.M. Thurn, a German Lutheran; under his leadership the Third Defenestration of Prague happened in 1618 and it led to the Thirty Years War).

Next in line for Bohemian crown was Rudolf's brother Matthias, but since Matthias was childless, his cousin, the archduke Ferdinand of Styria, was preliminary accepted by the Bohemian Diet as the future Bohemian king when Matthias became ill. The Protestant estates of Bohemia didn't like this decision. Tension between the Protestants and the Catholics (who were pro-Habsburgs) led to the Third Defenestration of Prague when the Catholic governors were thrown from the windows at Prague Castle on May 23, 1618. They survived, but the Protestants replaced the Catholic governors. This incident led to the Thirty Years War. When Matthias died, Ferdinand of Styria was elected Emperor as Emperor Ferdinand II, but was not accepted as King of Bohemia by the Protestant directors. Calvinist Frederick V of Pfalz was elected King of Bohemia. The Battle on the White Mountain followed on November 8, 1620. Emperor Ferdinand II was helped by not only Catholic Spain, Catholic Poland, and Catholic Bavaria, but also by Lutheran Saxon (who disliked the Calvinists). The Protestant army, lead by the warior Count J.M. Thurn, was formed from the Protestant armies, mostly Lutheran Silesia, Lusatias, and Moravia. It was mainly the battle between the Protestants and the Catholics. The Catholics won and Emperor Ferdinand II became King of Bohemia. He proclaimed the re-Catholicization of the Czech Lands. Twenty seven Protestant leaders were executed in Old Town Square in Prague on June 21, 1621. (Executed were three noblemen, seven knights and seventeen burghers, including Dr. Jan Jesenius, the rector of Prague university). Most Protestant leaders fled, including Count J.M. Thurn; those who had stayed didn't expect such a harsh punishment. The Protestants had to return all the Catholic seized property to the Church. No faith other than Catholic was permitted. The upper classes were given the option either to emigrate or to convert to Catholicism. The German language was given equal rights with the Czech language. After the Peace of Westphalia, Ferdinand II moved the court to Vienna, and Prague began a steady decline which reduced the population from the 60,000 it had had in the years before the war to 20,000.

The Jewish Quarter of Prague

Jewish Cemetery and surrounding buildings
Jewish Cemetery and surrounding buildings

The 17th century is considered the Golden Age of Jewish Prague. The Jewish community of Prague numbered some 15,000 people (approx. 30 per cent of the entire population), making it the largest Ashkenazic community in the world and the second largest community in Europe after Thessaloniki. In the years 1597 to 1609, the Maharal ( Judah Loew ben Bezalel) served as Prague's chief rabbi. He is considered the greatest of Jewish scholars in Prague's history, his tomb at the Old Jewish Cemetery eventually becoming a pilgrimage site. The expulsion of Jews from Prague by Maria Theresa of Austria in 1745 based on their alleged collaboration with the Prussian army was a severe blow to the flourishing Jewish community. The queen allowed the Jews to return to the city in 1748. In 1848 the gates of the Prague ghetto were opened. The former Jewish quarter, renamed Josefov in 1850, was demolished during the "ghetto clearance" (Czech: Asanace) on the turn of the 19th to the 20th century.

Great fire in 1689

In 1689 a great fire devastated Prague, but this spurred a renovation and a rebuilding of the city. The economic rise continued through the following century, and the city in 1771 had 80,000 inhabitants. Many of these were rich merchants who, together with noblemen, enriched the city with a host of palaces, churches and gardens, creating a Baroque style renowned throughout the world. In 1784, under Joseph II, the four municipalities of Malá Strana, Nové Město, Staré Město and Hradčany were merged into a single entity. The Jewish district, called Josefov, was included only in 1850. The Industrial Revolution had a strong effect in Prague, as factories could take advantage of the coal mines and ironworks of the nearby region. A first suburb, Karlín, was created in 1817, and twenty years later the population exceeded 100,000. The first railway connection was built in 1842.

19th century

In 1806, Holy Roman Empire ended when Napoleon dictated its dissolution. Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated his title. He became Emperor of Austria Francis I.

The revolutions that shocked all Europe around 1848 touched Prague too, but they were fiercely suppressed. In the following years the Czech nationalist movement (opposed to another nationalist party, the German one) began its rise, until it gained the majority in the Town Council in 1861.

In 1867, Emperor Francis Joseph I established the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy of the Austrian Empire and Kingdom of Hungary.

20th century

The next in succession to the Austro-Hungarian throne became Francis Ferdinand d'Este after Crown Prince Rudolf (son of the emperor Francis Joseph I) had committed suicide and after the Emperor's brother (Ferdinand's father) had died. Ferdinand was married to Sophie von Chotek from a Czech aristocratic family. They lived in Bohemia at the Konopiste Castle, not far from Prague. He was in favour of Triple Monarchy, expanding an Austro-Hungary Dualism into Austro-Hungary-Czech Triple Monarchy, but on June 28, 1914 he and his wife were assassinated at Sarajevo. This assassination led to World War I.

World War I ended with the defeat of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia. Prague was chosen as its capital. At this time Prague was a true European capital with a very developed industrial base. In 1930 the population had risen to a startling 850,000.

For most of its history Prague had been a multiethnic city with important Czech, German, and Jewish populations. From 1939, when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany, and during World War II, most Jews either fled the city or were killed in the Holocaust. Most of the Jews living in Prague after the war emigrated in the years of Communism, particularly after the communist coup, the establishment of Israel in 1948, and the Soviet invasion in 1968. In the early 1990s, the Jewish Community in Prague numbered only 800 people compared to nearly 50,000 before the World War II. In 2006, some 1,600 people were registered in the Jewish Community.

During the war, Prague itself was one of few european cities that were not damaged by bombardment, the citizens of Prague were however widely oppressed and persecuted by the Nazis. Politicians (e.g. prime minister Alois Eliáš), university profesors and students and many others were murdered or imprisoned with assistance of Germans or Czech informers. Prague uprising started on May 5, 1945 when Prague's Czech people, assisted by a revolting Russian division formerly in service of the Waffen SS, had revolted against the Nazi German occupants. That same day, the General Patton's American Third Army (with 150 thousand soldiers) was in Pilsen (only a few hours away from Prague) while Marshal Konev's Soviet Army was on the borders of Moravia. General Patton was in favour of liberating Prague, but he had to comply with the instructions from General D. Eisenhower. General Eisenhower requested the Soviet Chief of Staff to permit them to press forward, but was informed that American help is not needed (a prior agreement from the Yalta Conference was that Bohemia would be liberated by the Red Army). Finally, on May 9, 1945 (the day after Germany officially capitulated) the Soviet tanks got to Prague. It was not until May 12, 1945 when the fight was completely over in the Czech Lands.

The ethnic German population, which had formed the majority of the city's inhabitants until the late 19th century, either fled or was expelled in the months after May, 1945. During the gathering and transfer of Germans limited local massacres happened with today unknown number of victims.

The Czechs genuinely felt gratitude towards the Soviet soldiers. People did not know that they became the victims in rival politics. The Soviet victory was both military and political. (Bismarck once declared: "He, who is master of Bohemia, is master of Europe...") Prague was henceforth the capital of a republic under the military and political control of the Soviet Union, and in 1955 it entered the Warsaw Pact.

The always lively intellectual world of Prague, however, suffered under the totalitarian regime, in spite of the rather careful program of rebuilding of and caring for the damaged monuments after World War II. At the 4th Czechoslovakian Writers' Congress held in the city in 1967 a strong position against the regime was taken. This spurred the new secretary of Communist Party, Alexander Dubček to proclaim a new deal in his city's and country's life, starting the short-lived season of the "socialism with a human face". It was the Prague Spring, which aimed at democratic reform of institutions. The Soviet Union and the rest of the Warsaw Pact reacted, occupying Czechoslovakia and the capital in August 1968, suppressing under tanks' tracks any attempt of renovation.

In 1989, after the Berlin Wall had fallen, and the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague, Czechoslovakia finally freed itself from communism and Soviet influence, and Prague benefited deeply from the new mood. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic. Prague is capital of two administrative units of Czech Republic - Prague region ( Czech: Pražský kraj) and Central Bohemian Region ( Czech: Středočeský kraj). As Prague is not geographically part of Central Bohemian Region it is a capital outside of territory it serves.

Timeline of most important moments of Prague history

  • 870    Prague Castle founded
  • 1085 Prague became the seat of kings - 1st king Vratislaus II.
  • 1344 the Prague Bishopric became an Archdiocese
  • 1346 the rule of Charles IV. - Prague capital of Holy Roman Empire
  • 1348 University of Prague ( Charles University) founded
  • 1415 in Konstanz, Jan Hus is burned at the stake as a heretic
  • 1419 1st Prague defenestration
  • 1420 battle on Vítkov Mountain - Hussites win over crusaders
  • 1583 rule of Rudolf II - city for the 2nd time the capital of Holy Roman Empire and cultural centre of Europe
  • 1618 3rd Prague defenestration sparked off the Thirty Years' War
  • 1621 execution of 27 Czech nobles on the Old Town Square as a consequence of the Battle of White Mountain
  • 1648 west bank of Prague (including the Prague Castle) occupied and looted by Swedish armies
  • 1741 occupation by French-Bavarian armies
  • 1744 occupation by Prussian armies
  • 1848 revolutionary uprising crushed by imperial army
  • 1890 big flood caused extreme damage
  • 1918 after World War I Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia
  • 1922 Great Prague created by uniting Prague with its suburbs and neighbouring towns
  • 1938 after political betrayal of allies (France and Britain at Munich) Germany occupied Sudetenland and in 1939 the whole country
  • 1942 Czechoslovak paratroopers kill Reinhard Heydrich, Nazis respond with wave of terror
  • 1945 U.S. Air Force conducts bombing of Prague in World War II, killing hundreds of Praguers by mistake. (Target was Dresden, 134 km away).
  • 1945 Prague uprising against the Nazi German occupants during the last days of World War II, ended with the arrival of the Red Army – followed by an expulsion of German citizens
  • 1948 communist takeover of power
  • 1968 Soviet army invasion to repress the Prague Spring
  • 1989 Prague is the main centre of Velvet Revolution (the fall of communist regime)
  • 2000 Anti-globalization Protests in Prague (some 15,000 protesters) turned violent during the IMF and World Bank summits
  • 2002 Prague suffers from flooding, parts of the city evacuated but no major landmarks destroyed

The four independent boroughs that had formerly constituted Prague were eventually proclaimed a single city in 1784. Those four cities were Hradčany (the Castle District, west and north of the Castle), Little Quarter (Malá Strana, south of the Castle), Old Town (Staré Město, on the east bank opposite the Castle) and New Town (Nové Město, further south and east). The city underwent further expansion with the annexation of Josefov in 1850 and Vyšehrad in 1883, and at the beginning of 1922, another 37 municipalities were incorporated, raising the city's population to 676,000. In 1938 population reached 1,000,000.


Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe's (and the world's) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern. Some of the most known sights are:

Packed with tourists on a busy summer day in Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Prague
Packed with tourists on a busy summer day in Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Prague
  • Old Town (Staré Město) with its Old Town Square
  • The Astronomical Clock
  • The picturesque Charles Bridge
  • New Town (Nové město) with its busy and historic Wenceslas Square
  • Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter)
  • Prague Castle (the largest castle in the world) with its St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Josefov (the old Jewish quarter) with Old Jewish Cemetery and Old New Synagogue
  • The Lennon Wall
  • Vinohrady
  • The museum of Heydrich assassination in the crypt of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius
  • National Museum
  • Vyšehrad castle
  • Petřínská rozhledna, an observation tower on Petřín hill, which is nearly a 1:5 copy of the Eiffel Tower
  • Anděl (City part) which is probably the busiest part of the city with a super modern shopping mall and architecture
  • Žižkov Television Tower with observation deck
  • The New Jewish Cemetery in Olšany, location of Franz Kafka's grave
  • The Metronome, a giant, functional metronome that looms over the city
  • The Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building)
  • The Mucha Museum, showcasing the Art Nouveau works of Alfons Mucha
  • Places connected to writers living in the city, such as Franz Kafka.
A postcard image of Prague from the top of the Petřínská rozhledna.
A postcard image of Prague from the top of the Petřínská rozhledna.
Milunić and Gehry's Dancing House
Milunić and Gehry's Dancing House


Prague is a traditional cultural centre of Europe, hosting many cultural events.

Significant cultural institutions:

  • National Theatre
  • The Rudolfinum (home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • State Opera
  • National Museum
  • Náprstek Museum
  • National Library
  • National Gallery

There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. Prague also hosts Film Festivals, Music Festivals, a Writers Festival, hundreds of Vernissages and Fashion Shows.

See also:

  • Prague Spring International Music Festival
  • Prague Autumn International Music Festival
  • Febiofest
  • One World Film Festival
  • Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
  • Barrandov Studios
  • Prague Writers Festival
  • Prague International Organ Festival
  • Prague Fringe Festival
  • World Roma Festival
  • Premiere of Mozart's Don Giovanni


The GDP per capita of Prague is more than double that of the Czech Republic as a whole, with a per-capita GDP (PPP) of EUR 32,357 in 2002, which is at 153% of the European Union average. The city is becoming a site of European headquarters of many international companies.

Since the late 1990s, Prague has become a popular filming location for international productions and Hollywood motion pictures. Unlike many other European cities, Prague did not suffer great destruction during World War II, and the city is often used as a "stand in" for other pre-WW2 European cities, such as Amsterdam or London. A combination of architecture, low costs, tax breaks, and the existing motion picture infrastructure have proved attractive to international film production companies.

Colleges and universities

Prague skyscraper.
Prague skyscraper.

The city contains nine universities and colleges including the oldest university in Central and Eastern Europe:

  • Charles University (UK) founded in 1348
  • Czech Technical University (ČVUT) founded in 1707
  • Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) founded in 1800
  • Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (VŠUP) founded in 1885
  • Institute of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT) founded in 1920
  • Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) founded in 1945
  • Czech University of Agriculture (ČZU) founded in 1906/1952
  • University of Economics (VŠE) founded in 1953
  • University of New York Prague (UNYP)


Integrated transport system

Public transport infrastructure consists of an integrated transport system of three metro lines (with 54 stations in total), trams, Prague Tram System (including the "nostalgic tram" no. 91), buses, a funicular to Petřín Hill and a chairlift at Prague Zoo. All services have a common ticketing system, and are run by Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy (The Capital City of Prague Transport Company).

The "nostalgic tram" no. 91 runs through the city centre
The "nostalgic tram" no. 91 runs through the city centre


The city forms the hub of the Czech railway system, with services to all parts of the Czech Republic and to neighbouring countries.

Prague has two international railway stations, Hlavní nádraží (sometimes referred to as Wilsonovo nádraží) and Praha Holešovice. Intercity services also stop at the main stations Praha Smíchov and Masarykovo nádraží. In addition to these, there are a number of smaller suburban stations.


Prague is served by Ruzyně International Airport, which is the hub of the flag carrier, Czech Airlines. There are several cheap flights per day from the UK and from other countries. Ruzyně International Airport is considered as one of the most modern airports in Europe.


The Jerusalem Synagogue, built in 1906 to 1907 by Wilhelm Stiassny, of Bratislava, is the largest Jewish place of worship in Prague
The Jerusalem Synagogue, built in 1906 to 1907 by Wilhelm Stiassny, of Bratislava, is the largest Jewish place of worship in Prague

The taxi service in Prague has had a somewhat checkered history. During the rule of Communist Party in Czechoslovakia (1948–1989), the taxi service was nationalised into one umbrella company, and, with a short exception during liberalization related to the Prague Spring, no independent taxi drivers were allowed. The quality and availability of the service was low. This caused many enterprising people to run illegal taxi services. Their earnings were far above income of typical citizens and became a source of envy. After the fall of the Communist regime, the service was liberalized and anyone could become a taxi driver. Unfortunately, the chaos of transition from planned to market economy did not leave any time to implement sufficient regulations. The lack of planning and controls has led to a number of serious taxi scams operating in the city; some of which have been linked with organised crime. Many of the victims of overpricing are tourists.

Taxi services in Prague can currently be divided into three sectors. There are major taxicab companies, operating call-for-taxi services (radio-taxi) or from regulated taxi stands, where overpricing is rare and regulation mostly in place. There are independent drivers, who make pick-ups on the street; cheating is mostly associated with these cars. Lastly, there are fake taxi drivers, who operate as "contractual transport services" in order to avoid government regulation.


Prague is the site of many sports events, national stadiums and teams

  • Prague International Marathon
  • Sparta Prague -> UEFA Champions League
  • Slavia Prague -> UEFA Cup
  • Sazka Arena -> 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and Euroleague Final Four 2006
  • Strahov Stadium — the largest stadium in the world
  • Mystic SK8 Cup — World cup of skateboarding
  • Prague open — prestige Floorball cup
  • and more

Prague as a venue

Recent major events held in Prague:

  • NATO Summit 2002
  • International Monetary Fund and World Bank Summit 2000
  • International Olympic Committee Session 2004
  • International Astronomical Union General Assembly 2006

Famous people connected with Prague

Being the cultural and economical centre of Bohemia, Prague has attracted many famous people. Some of the best known are:

Historical population

Demographic evolution of Prague between 1230 and 2004
1230 1370 1600 1804 1837 1850 1880 1900 1925 1950 1980 1991 2004
4,000 40,000 60,000 76,000 105,500 118,000 162,000 201,600 718,300 931,500 1,182,800 1,214,174 1,170,571
  • The record of 1230 includes Staré Město only
  • The records of 1370 and 1600 includes Staré město, Nové město, Malá Strana and Hradčany quarters
  • Numbers beside other years denote the population of Prague within the administrative border of the city at that time (and population including present suburbs in parentheses).
The Church of St. Nicolas.
The Church of St. Nicolas.

Twin cities

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