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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Prague Travel Guide
Prague Travel Guide and Prague Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
'A new country with a glorious past'

The City of One Hundred Towers and Spires’ and ‘Golden Prague’ are names that conjure up the many aspects of this fascinating city, the capital of the Czech Republic. Its rich architectural heritage, results from centuries of escaping the worst ravages of war and recently, nature with the floods in August 2002. Maintenance of the painted stucco exteriors, is a constant process. Under Communism, Prague was the showplace of the Warsaw Pact, although in a muted fashion. Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution, the city has thrown off years of oppression and is now returning to its former glory.

Located in the valley of the Vltava (Moldau) River, Prague is dominated by the castle perched on the Western bluffs. Visitors are attracted to the ‘fairy tale’ aspect of the city but this is only part of its vibrant mixture of styles.

Prague is best explored on foot and the entire centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gothic churches can be found alonside Cubist, Functionalist and ultra-modern buildings, classical music intermingles with jazz and rock, while statues sit next to abstract works and even a Cubist lamppost. Prague’s was established by the Pøemyslid King Otakar II (1253–78), when the town was organised into three administrative districts – the Castle precincts (Hradèany), the Lesser Town below the Castle (Malá Strana) and Old Town (Staré Mìsto). Across the river, the Jewish community moved from Lesser Town to the Josefov ghetto, to make room for German traders.

The city’s golden age began when Charles IV of Bohemia was elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1346. The ambitious Gothic building programme, including St Vitus Cathedral, the Charles Bridge, the University, and the New Town (Nové Mìsto), centred on Wenceslas Square and transformed Prague into one of the greatest and most powerful cities in Europe. In reaction to Hapsburg rule, nationalism reasserted itself in the late 18th century. Throughout the 19th century, the creation of a nationalistic architectural style brought further changes. Later, the Jewish ghetto was razed to make way for Art Nouveau buildings. With the end of World War I, Czechoslovakia gained its independence. Freed from the constraints of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Prague blossomed as new artistic styles were developed – Cubism, Art Deco and Functionalism found a niche in its architecture and arts. Strong influences arrived from America as Prague was ripe for the importation of popular culture from the Jazz Age. Prague took what it wanted, while keeping its unique identity. Not even years of Nazi and Communist suppression successfully stifled the Czech spirit – as the city reclaimed its reputation for cultural excellence when it threw off stark social realism in the 1990s.

The best times to visit Prague are in the early spring and the late autumn – after most of tourists have left. If the cold weather isn’t a problem, the winter months are the quietest time. Prague has a mild climate, although very high and low temperatures can be encountered. Autumn is the season with the most rainfall. As one of the European cities of culture for the year 2000, Prague picked the theme of urban transformation – an idea that will continue for a number of years, as it moves forward to its exciting role in the new century.
Useful travel links
Czech Tourist Authority Official tourism website