Prague

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This article is about the capital of the Czech Republic. For other uses, see Prague (disambiguation).
Prague
Praha
Capital city
Montage of Prague
Montage of Prague
Flag of Prague
Flag
Coat of arms of Prague
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): City of a Hundred Spires, Mater Urbium
(Mother of Cities; Latin)
Motto: formerly: Praga Caput Regni
(Prague, Head of the Kingdom, Latin)
Prague is located in Czech Republic
Prague
Prague
Coordinates: 50°5′N 14°25′E / 50.083°N 14.417°E / 50.083; 14.417Coordinates: 50°5′N 14°25′E / 50.083°N 14.417°E / 50.083; 14.417
Country  Czech Republic
Founded c. 885
Government
 • Mayor Tomáš Hudeček[1] (TOP 09)
Area[2]
 • Urban 496 km2 (192 sq mi)
Highest elevation 399 m (1,309 ft)
Lowest elevation 177 m (581 ft)
Population (2014-01-01)[3]
 • Capital city 1,243,201 Decrease
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 100 00 – 199 00
Vehicle registration A
NUTS code CZ01
GDP/capita (PPP) €43,950 (EY) (2014)[4]
Website praha.eu
Statistics statnisprava.cz
The Prague Astronomical Clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.

Prague (/ˈprɑːɡ/; Czech: Praha pronounced [ˈpraɦa] ( )) is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is the fourteenth-largest city in the European Union.[5] It is also the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava River, the city is home to about 1.24 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of nearly 2 million.[6] The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.

Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic centre of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its 1,100-year existence. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.[7][8] It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire and after World War I became the capital of Czechoslovakia. The city played major roles in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and in 20th-century history, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.

Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Lennon Wall and Petřín hill. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, which used to be joined with Slovakia until the two separated into distinct sovereign states in 1993.

The city boasts more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. A modern public transportation system connects the city. Also, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University. Prague is classified as an Alpha- global city according to GaWC studies, comparable to Berlin, Rome and Houston. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 4.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2011.[9] In 2011, Prague was the sixth-most-visited city in Europe.[10][11] Prague ranked fifth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2014.[12]

History[edit]

Main article: History of Prague

During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the multicultural capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.

Early history[edit]

A view of one of the bridge towers of the Charles Bridge

The area on which Prague was founded was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. Around 200 BC the Celts (Boii) established an oppidum (settlement) in the south, now called Závist. By the end of the 1st century BC, the population was composed mostly of the Germanic tribes (Marcomanni, Quadi, Lombards and possibly the Suebi). Around the place where now stands Prague the map of Ptolemaios (2nd century) firstly mention a Germanic city Casurgis. In the late 5th century AD, during the great migration period following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes moved westwards and in the 6th century in came the Slavs.

According to native Czech historian David Solomon Ganz (1541–1613), author of a book published in Hebrew, entitled Tzemach Dovid,[13] the Czech Republic was formerly called Bohemia (Latin: Boihaemum). He writes in the aforementioned book that their chief metropolis was founded by one of their ancient kings, Boyya (Boiia), in c. 1306 BC. He gave his name to the city that lay around the place where now stands Prague, calling it Bayonheim. Neighboring Bavaria (Bayern) also took its name from this ancient king, Boyya (Boiia). Many years later, during the reign of Augustus Caesar, the city's name was changed to Maroboden, named after a ruler at that time whose name was Maroboduus (a man belonging to one of the Germanic tribes). By the 9th century, the name of the city was again changed, this time to Prague, by which name it is still called today.

According to legends, Prague was founded in the 8th century by the Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. By the year 800 there was a simple fort fortified with wooden buildings, occupying about two-thirds of the area that is now Prague Castle.[14] The first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885.[15]

The other Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad[16] was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years later than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which was founded in 1344, but completed in the 20th century.

The region became the seat of the dukes, and later kings of Bohemia. Under Roman Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973. Until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz.

Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Hispano-Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub. The Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands. Prague contained an important slave market.[17]

At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus II had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge (Juditin most), named in honor of his wife Judith of Thuringia. This bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342. Some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain.

In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana ("Lesser Quarter") was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany (Prague Castle) area. This was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights. The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město ("Old Town"), which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications.

The era of Charles IV[edit]

St. Vitus Cathedral at Hradčany
The precious Czech Crown Jewels are the fourth oldest in Europe

Prague flourished during the 14th-century reign (1346–1378) of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the king of Bohemia of the new Luxembourg dynasty. As King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, he transformed Prague into an imperial capital and it was at that time the third-largest city in Europe (after Rome and Constantinople).

He ordered the building of the New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to the Old Town and laid out the design himself. The Charles Bridge, replacing the Judith Bridge destroyed in the flood just prior to his reign, was erected to connect the right bank districts to the Malá Strana and castle area. On 9 July 1357 at 5:31 am, Charles IV personally laid the first foundation stone for the Charles Bridge. The exact time of laying the first foundation stone is known because the palindromic number 135797531 was carved into the Old Town bridge tower having been chosen by the royal astrologists and numerologists as the best time for starting the bridge construction.[18] In 1347, he founded Charles University, which remains the oldest university in Central Europe.

He began construction of the Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral, within the largest of the Prague Castle courtyards, on the site of the Romanesque rotunda there. Prague was elevated to an archbishopric in 1344, the year the cathedral was begun.

The city had a mint and was a centre of trade for German and Italian bankers and merchants. The social order, however, became more turbulent due to the rising power of the craftsmen's guilds (themselves often torn by internal fights), and the increasing number of poor people.

The Hunger Wall, a substantial fortification wall south of Malá Strana and the Castle area, was built during a famine in the 1360s. The work is reputed to have been ordered by Charles IV as a means of providing employment and food to the workers and their families.

Old Prague banner, c. 1477
The coat of arms of Prague emerged in the 15th century. The arm was added in 1649.

Charles IV died in 1378. During the reign of his son, King Wenceslaus IV (1378–1419), a period of intense turmoil ensued. During Easter 1389, members of the Prague clergy announced that Jews had desecrated the host (Eucharistic wafer) and the clergy encouraged mobs to pillage, ransack and burn the Jewish quarter. Nearly the entire Jewish population of Prague (3,000 people) perished.[19][20]

Jan Hus, a theologian and rector at the Charles University, preached in Prague. In 1402, he began giving sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel. Inspired by John Wycliffe, these sermons focused on what were seen as radical reforms of a corrupt Church. Having become too dangerous for the political and religious establishment, Hus was summoned to the Council of Constance, put on trial for heresy, and burned at the stake in Constanz in 1415.

Four years later Prague experienced its first defenestration, when the people rebelled under the command of the Prague priest Jan Želivský. Hus' death, coupled with Czech proto-nationalism and proto-Protestantism, had spurred the Hussite Wars. Peasant rebels, led by the general Jan Žižka, along with Hussite troops from Prague, defeated Emperor Sigismund, in the Battle of Vítkov Hill in 1420.

During the Hussite Wars when the City of Prague was attacked by "Crusader" and mercenary forces, the city militia fought bravely under the Prague Banner. This swallow-tailed banner is approximately 4 by 6 feet, with a red field sprinkled with small white fleurs-de-lis, and a silver old Town Coat-of-Arms in the center. The words "PÁN BUH POMOC NASSE" (The Lord is our Relief) appeared above the coat-of-arms, with a Hussite chalice centered on the top. Near the swallow-tails is a crescent shaped golden sun with rays protruding.

One of these banners was captured by Swedish troops in Battle of Prague (1648), when they captured the western bank of the Vltava river and were repulsed from the eastern bank, they placed it in the Royal Military Museum in Stockholm; although this flag still exists, it is in very poor condition. They also took the Codex Gigas and the Codex Argenteus. The earliest evidence indicates that a gonfalon with a municipal charge painted on it was used for Old Town as early as 1419. Since this city militia flag was in use before 1477 and during the Hussite Wars, it is the oldest still preserved municipal flag of Bohemia.

In the following two centuries, Prague strengthened its role as a merchant city. Many noteworthy Gothic buildings[21][22] were erected and Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle was added.

Habsburg era[edit]

Prague panorama in 1650

In 1526, the Bohemian estates elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg. The fervent Catholicism of its members was to bring them into conflict in Bohemia, and then in Prague, where Protestant ideas were gaining popularity.[23] These problems were not pre-eminent under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, elected King of Bohemia in 1576, who chose Prague as his home. He lived in the Prague Castle, where his court welcomed not only astrologers and magicians but also scientists, musicians, and artists. Rudolf was an art lover too, and Prague became the capital of European culture. This was a prosperous period for the city: famous people living there in that age include the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, the poetess Elizabeth Jane Weston, and others.

In 1618, the famous second defenestration of Prague provoked the Thirty Years' War, a particularly harsh period for Prague and Bohemia. Ferdinand II of Habsburg was deposed, and his place as King of Bohemia taken by Frederick V, Elector Palatine; however the Czech Army under him was crushed in the Battle of White Mountain (1620) not far from the city. Following this in 1621 was an execution of 27 Czech leaders (involved in the uprising) in Old Town Square and the exiling of many others. The city suffered subsequently during the war under Saxon (1631) and Battle of Prague (1648).[24] 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. In the second half of the 17th century Prague's population began to grow again. Jews have been in Prague since the end of the 10th century and, by 1708, they accounted for about a quarter of Prague's population.[25]

Monument to František Palacký, significant person of the Czech National Revival

In 1689, a great fire devastated Prague, but this spurred a renovation and a rebuilding of the city. In 1713–14, a major outbreak of plague hit Prague one last time, killing 12,000 to 13,000 people.[26]

The economic rise continued through the 18th century, and the city in 1771 had 80,000 inhabitants. Many of these were rich merchants and nobles who enriched the city with a host of palaces, churches and gardens full of art and music, creating a Baroque style renowned throughout the world.

After the Battle of Prague in 1757 Prussian bombardment destroyed more than one quarter of the city and heavy damage suffered also the St. Vitus Cathedral.[27] However next month after the Battle of Kolín, Frederick II. lost and had to retreat from Bohemia.

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 revolutions that shocked all Europe around 1848 touched Prague too, but they were fiercely suppressed. In the following years the Czech National Revival began its rise, until it gained the majority in the town council in 1861. Prague had a German-speaking majority in 1848, but by 1880 the number of German speakers had decreased to 14% (42,000), and by 1910 to 6.7% (37,000), due to a massive increase of the city's overall population caused by the influx of Czechs from the rest of Bohemia and Moravia and also due to the rise of the social status of the Czech language.

20th century[edit]

The First Republic
Prague liberated by Red Army in May 1945

World War I ended with the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia. Prague was chosen as its capital and Prague Castle as the seat of president (Tomáš Masaryk). At this time Prague was a true European capital with highly developed industry. By 1930, the population had risen to 850,000.

Second World War

Hitler ordered the German Army to enter Prague on 15 March 1939 and from Prague Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. For most of its history Prague had been a multi-ethnic city with important Czech, German and (mostly Czech- and/or German-speaking) Jewish populations.[citation needed] From 1939, when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany, and during World War II, most Jews were deported and killed by the Germans.

In 1942, Prague was witness to the assassination of one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany – Reinhard Heydrich – during Operation Anthropoid, accomplished by Czechoslovak national heroes Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. Hitler ordered bloody reprisals. At the end of the war Prague suffered several bombing raids by the USAAF. Over 1,000 people were injured, 701 people were killed, and hundreds of buildings, factories and historical landmarks were destroyed (however, the damage was small compared to the total destruction of many other cities in that time).[28] Many historic structures in Prague, however, escaped the destruction of the war, including Prague's historic astronomical clock, and are still in existence. On 5 May 1945, two days before Germany capitulated, an uprising against Germany occurred. Four days later the 3rd Shock Army entered the city. The majority of the German population either fled or was expelled by the Beneš decrees in the aftermath of the war.

Cold War
Prague skyscrapers

Prague was a city in the territory of military and political control of the Soviet Union (see Iron Curtain). The 4th Czechoslovakian Writers' Congress held in the city in 1967 took a strong position against the regime.[citation needed] This spurred the new secretary of the 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 the renovation of institutions in a democratic way. The other Warsaw Pact member countries, except Romania and Albania, reacted with the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the capital on 21 August 1968 by tanks, suppressing any attempt at reform.

Era after the Velvet Revolution

In 1989, after the riot police beat back a peaceful student demonstration, the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague, and the Czechoslovak capital benefited greatly from the new mood. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital city of the new Czech Republic. In the late 1990s Prague again became an important cultural centre of Europe and was notably influenced by globalisation. In 2000 anti-globalisation protests in Prague (some 15,000 protesters) turned violent during the IMF and World Bank summits. In 2002 Prague suffered from widespread floods that damaged buildings and also its underground transport system. Prague launched a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics,[29] but failed to make the candidate city shortlist. Due to low political support, Prague's officials chose in June 2009 to cancel the city's planned bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics as well.[30]

Etymology and other names[edit]

Bridges over the Vltava river, as seen from Letná

The name Prague is derived from an old Slavic root, praga, which means "ford", referring to the city's origin at a crossing point of the Vltava river. The English spelling of the city's name is borrowed from French.

The native name of the city, Praha, however, is also related to the modern Czech word práh (threshold) and a legendary etymology connects the name of the city with princess Libuše, prophetess and a wife of mythical founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. She is said to have ordered the city "to be built where a man hews a threshold of his house".[31] The Czech práh might thus be understood to refer to rapids or a cataract in the river, the edge of which could have acted as a means of fording the river – thus providing a "threshold" to the castle. However, no geological ridge in the river has ever been located directly beneath the castle. The same etymology is associated with the Praga district of Warsaw.[32]

Another derivation of the name Praha is suggested from na prazě, the original term for the shale hillside rock upon which the original castle was built. At that time, the castle was surrounded by forests, covering the nine hills of the future city – the Old Town on the opposite side of the river, as well as the Lesser Town beneath the existing castle, appeared only later.[33]

Nicknames for Prague have included: Praga mater urbium/Praha matka měst ("Prague – Mother of Cities") in Latin/Czech, Stověžatá Praha ("City of a Hundred Spires") based on a count by 19th-century mathematician Bernard Bolzano. Today's count is estimated by Prague Information Service at 500.[34]

Main sights[edit]

The Gothic Powder Tower
Milunić and Gehry's Dancing House
Franz Kafka monument, next to the Spanish synagogue

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth-most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin.[35] 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 Romanesque, to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, Cubist, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern. Some popular sights include:

Hradčany and Lesser Town (Malá Strana)[edit]

Old Town (Staré Město) and Josefov[edit]

New Town (Nové město)[edit]

Vinohrady and Žižkov[edit]

Other places[edit]

Geography[edit]

Prague is situated on the Vltava river, at 50°05"N and 14°27"E.[38] in the centre of the Bohemian Basin. Prague is approximately at the same latitude as Frankfurt, Germany;[39] Paris, France;[40] and Vancouver, Canada.[41]

Population[edit]

Development of the Prague population since 1378:[42][43][44]

Year 1378 1500 1610 1798 1880 1930 1961 1980 1995 2005 2012
Population 40 000 30 000 60 000 79 000 350,000 950,000 1.13 mil 1.19 mil 1.21 mil 1.18 mil 1.24 mil

According to the 2011 census, about 14% of the inhabitants were foreigners.[45]

Climate[edit]

Prague seen from satellite

The city of Prague lies between oceanic climate and humid continental climate (Köppen Cfb). The winters are relatively cold with average temperatures at about freezing point, and with very little sunshine. Snow cover can be common between mid-November to late March although snow accumulations of more than 20 cm (8 in) are infrequent. There are also a few periods of mild temperatures in winter. Summers usually bring plenty of sunshine and the average high temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Nights can be quite cool even in summer, though. Precipitation in Prague is rather low (it is less rainy than Rome and Paris) as the shadow of the Ore Mountains and the Czech Central Highlands takes effect. The driest season is usually winter while the summers can bring quite heavy rain especially in form of violent storms and showers. Temperature inversions are relatively common between mid-October and mid-March bringing often cloudy, cold days in comparison with mountains or highlands and can be often connected with air pollution. Prague is also a windy city with common sustained western winds and an average wind speed of 16 kph (10 mph) that often help break temperature inversions in cold months.

Climate data for Prague (1961–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.3
(63.1)
18.5
(65.3)
22.5
(72.5)
30.7
(87.3)
32.8
(91)
37.2
(99)
37.8
(100)
36.8
(98.2)
33.1
(91.6)
27.0
(80.6)
19.5
(67.1)
17.4
(63.3)
37.8
(100)
Average high °C (°F) 0.4
(32.7)
2.7
(36.9)
7.7
(45.9)
13.3
(55.9)
18.3
(64.9)
21.4
(70.5)
23.3
(73.9)
23.0
(73.4)
19.0
(66.2)
13.1
(55.6)
6.0
(42.8)
2.0
(35.6)
12.5
(54.5)
Daily mean °C (°F) −2
(28)
−0.6
(30.9)
3.1
(37.6)
7.6
(45.7)
12.5
(54.5)
15.6
(60.1)
17.1
(62.8)
16.6
(61.9)
13.2
(55.8)
8.3
(46.9)
3.0
(37.4)
−0.2
(31.6)
7.9
(46.2)
Average low °C (°F) −5.4
(22.3)
−4
(25)
−1
(30)
2.6
(36.7)
7.1
(44.8)
10.5
(50.9)
11.9
(53.4)
11.7
(53.1)
8.7
(47.7)
4.3
(39.7)
0.2
(32.4)
−3.3
(26.1)
3.6
(38.5)
Record low °C (°F) −27.5
(−17.5)
−27.1
(−16.8)
−27.6
(−17.7)
−8
(18)
−1.6
(29.1)
3.6
(38.5)
7.9
(46.2)
6.4
(43.5)
0.7
(33.3)
−7.5
(18.5)
−16.9
(1.6)
−24.8
(−12.6)
−27.6
(−17.7)
Precipitation mm (inches) 23.5
(0.925)
22.6
(0.89)
28.1
(1.106)
38.2
(1.504)
77.2
(3.039)
72.7
(2.862)
66.2
(2.606)
69.6
(2.74)
40.0
(1.575)
30.5
(1.201)
31.9
(1.256)
25.3
(0.996)
525.8
(20.701)
Snowfall cm (inches) 17.9
(7.05)
15.9
(6.26)
10.3
(4.06)
2.9
(1.14)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.1
(0.04)
8.4
(3.31)
15.9
(6.26)
71.4
(28.11)
Avg. precipitation days 6.8 5.6 6.2 7.3 9.8 10.3 9.1 8.8 7.0 5.5 7.0 6.8 90.2
 % humidity 85 82 76 70 70 71 70 72 77 81 85 85 77
Mean monthly sunshine hours 50.0 72.4 124.7 167.6 214.0 218.3 226.2 212.3 161.0 120.8 53.9 46.7 1,667.9
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[46]
Source #2: NOAA[47]

Culture[edit]

See also: museums, theatres and operas, and galleries and libraries
Veletržní palác houses the largest collection of National Gallery art
Rudolfinum, a concert and exhibition hall
Prague Congress Centre has hosted the IMF-WBG meeting and NATO summit

The city is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events.

Some of the significant cultural institutions include the National Theatre (Národní Divadlo) and the Estates Theatre (Stavovské or Tylovo or Nosticovo divadlo), where the premières of Mozart's Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito were held. Other major cultural institutions are the Rudolfinum which is home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Municipal House which is home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The Prague State Opera (Státní opera) performs at the Smetana Theatre.

The city has many world-class museums, including the National Museum (Národní muzeum), the Museum of the Capital City of Prague, the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Alfons Mucha Museum, the African-Prague Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Náprstek Museum (Náprstkovo Muzeum), the Josef Sudek Gallery, the National Library and the National Gallery, which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic.

There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. It hosts music festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival, the Prague International Organ Festival and the Prague International Jazz Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World Film Festival and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The city also hosts the Prague Writers' Festival, the Prague Folklore Days, Prague Advent Choral Meeting the Summer Shakespeare Festival,[48] the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival, as well as the hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.

Many films have been made at Barrandov Studios and at Prague Studios. Hollywood films set in Prague include Mission Impossible, xXx, Blade II, Alien vs. Predator, Doom, Chronicles of Narnia, Hellboy, Red Tails, Children of Dune and Van Helsing.[49] Other Czech films shot in Prague include Empties, EuroTrip, Amadeus and The Fifth Horseman is Fear. Also, the romantic music video "Never tears us apart" by Inxs, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" by Kanye West was shot in the city, and features shots of the Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock, among other famous landmarks. Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" video was filmed at Prague's Radost FX Club. The city was also the setting for the film Dungeons and Dragons in 2000. The music video "Silver and Cold" by AFI, an American rock band, was also filmed in Prague. Many Indian films have also been filmed in the city including Yuvraaj, Drona and Rockstar.

Forbes Traveler magazine listed Prague Zoo among the world's best zoos.[37]

With the growth of low-cost airlines in Europe, Prague has become a popular weekend city destination allowing tourists to visit its many museums and cultural sites as well as try its famous Czech beers and hearty cuisine.

The city has many buildings by renowned architects, including Adolf Loos (Villa Müller), Frank O. Gehry (Dancing House) and Jean Nouvel (Golden Angel).

Recent major events held in Prague:

Cuisine[edit]

In 2008 the Allegro restaurant received the first Michelin star in the whole of the post-Communist part of Central Europe. It retained its star until 2011. As of 2012 there are two Michelin-starred restaurants in Prague (Alcron and La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise).

In Malá Strana, Staré Město, Žižkov and Nusle there are hundreds of restaurants, bars and pubs, especially with Czech beer. Prague also hosts the Czech Beer Festival (Český pivní festival), which is the biggest beer festival in the Czech Republic, held for 17 days every year in May. At the festival, more than 70 brands of Czech beer can be tasted.

Prague is home to many breweries including:

  • Pivovary Staropramen (Praha 5)
  • První novoměstský restaurační pivovar (Praha 1)
  • Pivovar U Fleků (Praha 1)
  • Klášterní pivovar Strahov (Praha 1)
  • Pivovar Pražský most u Valšů (Praha 1)
  • Pivovarský Hotel U Medvídků (Praha 1)
  • Pivovarský dům (Praha 2) Jihoměstský pivovar (Praha 4)
  • Sousedský pivovar U Bansethů (Praha 4)
  • Vyukový a výzkumný pivovar – Suchdolský Jeník (Praha 6)
  • Pivovar U Bulovky (Praha 8)

Economy[edit]

Head office of Czech Airlines in Ruzyně, Prague
Žižkov Television Tower with crawling "babies"

Prague's economy accounts for 25% of the Czech Republic's GDP[50] making it the highest performing regional economy of the country. According to the Eurostat, as of 2007, its GDP per capita in purchasing power standard is 42,800 €. Prague ranked the 5th best-performing European NUTS two-level region at 172 percent of the EU-27 average.[4]

The city is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies.[citation needed]

Since 1990, the city's economic structure has shifted from industrial to service-oriented. Industry is present in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, printing, food processing, manufacture of transport equipment, computer technology and electrical engineering. In the service sector, most significant are financial and commercial services, trade, restaurants, hospitality and public administration. Services account for around 80 percent of employment. There are 800,000 employees in Prague, including 120,000 commuters.[50] The number of (legally registered) foreign residents in Prague has been increasing in spite of the country's economic downturn. As of March 2010, 148,035 foreign workers were reported to be living in the city making up about 18 percent of the workforce, up from 131,132 in 2008.[51] Approximately one-fifth of all investment in the Czech Republic takes place in the city.

Almost one-half of the national income from tourism is spent in Prague. The city offers approximately 73,000 beds in accommodation facilities, most of which were built after 1990, including almost 51,000 beds in hotels and boarding houses.

From the late 1990s to late 2000s, the city was a popular filming location for international productions and Hollywood, Bollywood motion pictures. A combination of architecture, low costs and the existing motion picture infrastructure have proven attractive to international film production companies.

The modern economy of Prague is largely service and export-based and, in a 2010 survey, the city was named the best city in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) for business.[52]

In 2005, Prague was deemed among the three best cities in Central and Eastern Europe according to The Economist's livability rankings.[53] The city was named as a top-tier nexus city for innovation across multiple sectors of the global innovation economy, placing 29th globally out of 289 cities, ahead of Brussels and Helsinki for innovation in 2010 in 2thinknow annual analysts Innovation Cities Index.[54] The street Na Příkopě in New Town is the most expensive in whole Central Europe.[55]

In the Eurostat research, Prague ranked fifth among Europe's 271 regions in terms of gross domestic product per inhabitant, achieving 172 percent of the EU average. It ranked just above Paris and well above the Czech Republic as a whole, which achieved 80 percent of the EU average.[56][57]

Prague is also the site of some of the most important offices and institutions of the Czech Republic.

Education[edit]

Charles University in Prague, founded in 1348, it was the first university in Central Europe

Twelve universities, and a number of colleges and schools are located in the city, including:

Public universities[edit]

Public arts academies[edit]

Private schools[edit]

International institutions[edit]

Science, research and hi-tech centres[edit]

The region city of Prague is an important centre of research. It is the seat of 39 out of 54 institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, including the largest ones, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Microbiology and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. It is also a seat of 10 public research institutes, four business incubators and large hospitals performing research and development activities such as the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague or the Motol University Hospital. Universities seated in Prague (see section Colleges and Universities) also represent important centres of science and research activities.

As of 2008, there were 13,000 researchers (out of 30,000 in the Czech Republic, counted in full-time equivalent), representing 3% share of Prague's economically active population. Gross expenditure on research and development accounted for 901.3 million € (41.5% of country's total).[58]

Some well-known multinational companies have established research and development facilities in Prague, among them Siemens, Honeywell and Sun Microsystems.

In 2010, Prague was selected to host administration of the EU satellite navigation system Galileo.

Transport[edit]

Malostranská metro station on line A
Škoda 15 T tram developed by Škoda for the Prague tram system, the newest tram in Prague.
Barrandov bridge, part of the City (inner) Ring Road
Overview of Václav Havel Airport Prague at night, Terminal 2 behind control tower on the left and Terminal 1 on the right

Public transportation[edit]

The public transport infrastructure consists of an intensely used integrated transport system of Prague Metro (its length is 59 km (37 mi) with 57 stations in total), Prague tram system, buses, the Petřín funicular to Petřín Hill, and six ferries: PID, Pražská integrovaná doprava (Prague integrated transport system). Prague has one of the highest rates of public transport usage in the world[citation needed] with 1.2 billion passenger journeys per annum. In Prague there are also three cable cars. The first is the on Petrin Hill and the other is on the hill Mrázovka and the third is at the zoo in Troja.

The Metro has three major lines extending throughout the city; in June 2010, construction began to extend the green line further into the northwest corner of Prague and eventually to the airport.[59] A fourth Metro line is planned, although a date for construction to begin has not yet been specified.[60] In operation there are currently two kinds of units: "81-71M" which is modernized variant of the Soviet 81-71 and from 1998 new "M1" trains manufactured by consortium consisting of ČKD Praha, ADtranz and Siemens. The original Soviet vehicles "Ečs" were excluded in 1997, but one museum-set is monthly in operation at line C, another vehicle is also placed in public transport museum in depot Střešovice.[61] Per capita usage of the Prague metro is the highest in the world.[citation needed] According to its builder, the escalator at Náměstí Míru station is the longest escalator in Europe.

Prague tram system now operates various types of trams: still popular classic Tatra T3, newer Tatra KT8D5, T6A5, Škoda 14 T designed by Porsche, newest Škoda 15 T and nostalgic tram number 91. Although Melbourne, Australia has the longest total tram system length in the world, Prague's tram network is one of the largest in the world by other measures. The Prague tram rolling stock consists of over 900 individual cars, of those around 700 are the T3 class, which are typically operated coupled together in pairs. The system carries more than 356 million passengers annually, the third highest tram patronage in the world after St Petersburg and Budapest. On a per capita basis, Prague has the second highest tram patronage after Zürich.

All services have a common ticketing system, and are run by the Prague Public Transport Company (Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, a. s.) and several other companies. Recently, the Regional Organiser of Prague Integrated Transport (ROPID) has franchised operation of ferries on the Vltava river, which are also a part of the public transport system with common fares. Taxi services operate from regulated taxi stands, and from independent taxi drivers who make pick-ups on the street.[citation needed]

Roads[edit]

The main flow of traffic leads through the centre of the city and through inner and outer ring roads (only partially in operation).

Inner Ring Road (The City Ring "MO"): Once completed it will surround the wider central part of the city. The longest city tunnel in Europe with a proposed length of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) and five interchanges is now being built to relieve congestion in the north-western part of Prague. Called Tunel Blanka and to be part of the City Ring Road, it is estimated that it will now cost – after several increases – 38 billion CZK. Construction started in 2007 and the tunnel is scheduled to be completed in 2013/2014. This tunnel complex will complete major part of the inner ring road. The entire City Ring is estimated to be finished after 2020.

Outer Ring Road (The Prague Ring "R1"): This ring road will connect all major motorways and speedways that meet each other in Prague region and provide faster transit without a necessity to drive through the city. So far 39 kilometres or 24 miles, out of total planned 83 kilometres or 52 miles, is in operation. Full completion is estimated around 2017.[62] Most recently, the southern part of this road (with a length of more than 20 kilometres or 12 miles) was opened on 22 September 2010.[citation needed]

Rail[edit]

The city forms the hub of the Czech railway system, with services to all parts of the Czech Republic and abroad. The railway system links Prague with major European cities, including Munich (Germany); Berlin (Germany); Vienna (Austria); Warsaw (Poland); Budapest (Hungary); Copenhagen (Denmark); Zürich (Switzerland); Moscow (Russia) and Amsterdam (the Netherlands) (all of which can be reached without transfers). Travel times range between 4.5 hours to Berlin and approximately 8 hours to Warsaw.[63]

Prague's main international railway station is Hlavní nádraží (formerly called Wilsonovo nádraží).[64] Rail services are also available from the main stations Praha – Masarykovo nádraží, Praha-Holešovice and Praha-Smíchov, in addition to selected suburban stations.

Air[edit]

Prague is served by Václav Havel Airport, the biggest airport in the Czech Republic and one of the busiest in Europe. It is the hub of the flag carrier, Czech Airlines,[65] as well as of the low-cost airlines Smart Wings and Wizzair operating throughout Europe. Other airports in Prague include the city's original airport in the north-eastern district of Kbely, which is serviced by the Czech Air Force, also internationally. The runway (9–27) at Kbely is 2 km (1 mi) long. The airport also houses the Prague Aviation Museum. The nearby Letňany airport is mainly used for private aviation and aeroclub aviation. Another airport in the proximity is Aero Vodochody aircraft factory to the north, used for testing purposes, as well as for aeroclub aviation. There are a few aeroclubs around Prague, such as the Točná airfield.

Sport[edit]

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

International relations[edit]

The city of Prague also maintains its own EU delegation in Brussels called Prague House.[67]

Petřín Lookout Tower, an observation tower built at Petřín hill.

Prague was the location of U.S. President Barack Obama's speech on 5 April 2009, which led to the New START treaty with Russia, signed in Prague on 8 April 2010.[68]

The annual conference Forum 2000, which was founded by former Czech President Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel in 1996, is held in Prague. Its main objective is "to identify the key issues facing civilization and to explore ways to prevent the escalation of conflicts that have religion, culture or ethnicity as their primary components", and also intends to promote democracy in non-democratic countries and to support civil society. Conferences have attracted a number of prominent thinkers, Nobel laureates, former and acting politicians, business leaders and other individuals like: Frederik Willem de Klerk, Bill Clinton, Nicholas Winton, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Dalai Lama, Hans Küng, Shimon Peres and Madeleine Albright.

Twin towns and sister cities[edit]

The city has a friendship agreement and is twinned with:[69]

Namesakes[edit]

Czech emigration has left a number of namesake cities scattered over the globe, though more heavily concentrated in the New World.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Culture and society[edit]

  • Becker, Edwin et al., ed. Prague 1900: Poetry and Ecstasy. (2000). 224 pp.
  • Burton, Richard D. E. Prague: A Cultural and Literary History. (2003). 268 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Cohen, Gary B. The Politics of Ethnic Survival: Germans in Prague, 1861–1914. (1981). 344 pp.
  • Fucíková, Eliska, ed. Rudolf II and Prague: The Court and the City. (1997). 792 pp.
  • Holz, Keith. Modern German Art for Thirties Paris, Prague, and London: Resistance and Acquiescence in a Democratic Public Sphere. (2004). 359 pp.
  • Iggers, Wilma Abeles. Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present. (1995). 381 pp. online edition
  • Kleineberg, A., Marx, Ch., Knobloch, E., Lelgemann, D.: Germania und die Insel Thule. Die Entschlüsselung von Ptolemaios`"Atlas der Oikumene". WBG 2010. ISBN 978-3-534-23757-9.
  • Porizka, Lubomir; Hojda, Zdenek; and Pesek, Jirí. The Palaces of Prague. (1995). 216 pp.
  • Sayer, Derek. "The Language of Nationality and the Nationality of Language: Prague 1780–1920." Past & Present 1996 (153): 164–210. Issn: 0031-2746 Fulltext: in Jstor
  • Spector, Scott. Prague Territories: National Conflict and Cultural Innovation in Kafka's Fin de Siècle. (2000). 331 pp. online edition
  • Svácha, Rostislav. The Architecture of New Prague, 1895–1945. (1995). 573 pp.
  • Wittlich, Peter. Prague: Fin de Siècle. (1992). 280 pp.

External links[edit]