Prague has a special flair that attracts both foreign visitors and locals who are under the spell of their home city. Franz Grillparzer, an Austrian writer of 19th century, compared it with the Venice. In both cities he was fascinated by the bond between ancient times and present. And Thomas Mann, a famous German novelist, was highly impressed by the unique architectural charm distinguisning Prague among other cities in the world.
Prague is situated in the heart of Europe. Not only it is the capital of the Czech Republic but it is also the economic, political, cultural and artistic center of the country. Prague has many highways and expressways, its airport and the Vltava river are important European transportation hubs. Prague is one of the world's hottest spots of the film industry and popular film location. The oldest university in Central Europe, the Charles University was founded in 1348 in Prague.
Moreover, Prague is considered to be one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Central Europe. It has retained the reputation and rank of a major European city up to this day. It survived the destruction of the Second World War mainly intact compared to some other European cities. And today Prague's Romanesque and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, Art Nouveau, Cubism and modern architechtural masterpieces drew millions of tourist every year.
Among the youth Prague is parlicularly popular as a destionation for educational and study tours.
Throughout its long history Prague was given a variety of nicknames. In the 10th century the town developed into an important international trading post. Many traders and artisans of various nationalities, especially German Jews, settled down there and shaped the way of life and the face of this city. Back then it was called "stone Prague" or "the mistress of the whole of Bohemia". In 1230 King Wenceslas I made Prague the royal residence of Bohemian kings and it was nicknamed "the capital of the kingdoms”.
In the 14th Century Prague became the third largest city in Europe. Under Charles IV and his son Wenceslas IV it turned into the blooming political and cultural center of Central Europe. Prague used to be the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the imperial residence. During Charles IV rule it was nicknamed "The Golden City", this name is still used today.
By 1900 the cosmopolitan Prague was considered a "greenhouse" for intellectuals, artists and writers. Kafka, Kish, Neruda, Hasek, Seifert and other prominent writers used to meet in the old town’s coffee houses and talk about God and the world.
During that time the nickname "Prague - city of a hundred towers" appeared. And this is true: you can gaze from the Prague Castle on Hradcany or from the second highest mountain of Prague, Vysehrad, wander about the city which offers a great spectacular view of more than 400 towers and 100 churches. The Prague Castle used to be the seat of the Czech head of state. It was founded in the 9th century and then rebuilt several times over the centuries, it is the largest ancient castle in the world. Among other things, the Saint Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane annually attract millions of visitors.
One of the oldest stone bridges in Europe, the Charles Bridge, connects the Lesser Town built in the middle of the 14th century, the area below Prague Castle, and the Old Town. It is one of the most famous sights of Prague and is open only to pedestrians. You can see a lot of street artists there, especially during the summer months. The Charles Bridge is one of 15 major bridges in the downtown area of Prague.
The old town charms visitors with its small winding streets located between Old Town Square and Charles Bridge. This is, of course, in addition to the romantic streets and numerous churches, the historic Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock which are places of attraction for many visiting Prague.
Since 1992 the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Old Town area includes the city of Joseph, the Prague Jewish quarter. The old cemetery, the Gothic Old-New Synagogue and the Jewish Museum are evidence of the more than 1000 years old history of the Prague Jewish community.
The busiest and most famous square in Prague is Wenceslas Square founded in the 14th century. Here the visitors of Prague are welcome to fashionable shopping malls, hotels and restaurants where one can discover the modern Prague and indulge in spending money.
Source: press release by Schülerreisedienst GmbH
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