The Vltava's bend in Prague
|Regions||South Bohemia, Central Bohemia|
|- left||Otava River, Berounka|
|- right||Lužnice, Sázava River|
|Cities||Český Krumlov, České Budějovice, Prague|
|- location||Černá hora, Šumava|
|- elevation||1,172 m (3,845 ft)|
|- elevation||155 m (509 ft)|
|Length||430 km (267 mi)|
|Basin||28,090 km2 (10,846 sq mi)|
|- average||149.9 m3/s (5,294 cu ft/s)|
The course and drainage basin of the Vltava from its source to its confluence with the Elbe (magenta)
|Wikimedia Commons: Vltava|
The Vltava ( listen (help·info); German: Moldau) is the longest river in the Czech Republic, running north from its source near the German Border in Šumava through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice, and Prague, merging with the Elbe at Mělník. It is 430 kilometres (270 mi) long and drains about 28,090 square kilometres (10,850 sq mi); at their confluence the Vltava actually has more water than the Elbe and is even much longer, but joins the Elbe at a right angle to its flow so that it appears a mere tributary. The river is crossed by 18 bridges (including the famous Charles Bridge, shown below) as it runs through Prague. It covers 31 kilometres (19 mi) within the city. Several dams were built on it in the 1950s, the biggest being Lipno Dam in Šumava.
In August 2002 a flood of the Vltava killed several people and caused massive damage and disruption along its length.
The best-known of the classical Czech composer Bedřich Smetana's set of six symphonic poems Má vlast ("My Motherland") is called Vltava (or The Moldau), and is a musical depiction of the river's course through Bohemia.
Physical description 
The height difference from source to mouth is about 1,016 metres (3,333 ft) and the largest stream at the source is named Černý Potok (Black Brook).
Both the Czech name Vltava and the German name Moldau are believed to originate from the old Germanic words *wilt ahwa ("wild water") (cf. Latin aqua). In Annales Fuldenses (872 AD) it is called Fuldaha; from 1113 AD it is attested as Wultha. In Chronica Boemorum (1125 AD) it is attested for the first time in its bohemised form as Wlitaua.