Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article

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Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/1

Map of Great Moravia at its possible greatest territorial extent Note that some of the borders of Great Moravia are under debate.

Great Moravia was a Slavic state that existed in Central Europe from the 9th century to the early 10th century. There is some controversy as to the actual location of its core territory. According to mainstream historians, its core territory laid on both sides of the Morava river, in present-day Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but the empire also extended into what are today parts of Hungary, Romania, Poland, Austria, Germany, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia. This theory also states that Great Moravia was inhabited by the ancestors of modern Moravians and Slovaks. According to alternate theories, the core territory of Great Moravia was situated South of the Danube river, in Slavonia or in the southern parts of the Carpathian Basin.

Great Moravia was founded when Mojmír I unified by force two neighboring states, referred to by the modern historiography as the "Principality of Nitra" and the "Principality of Moravia", in 833. The rulers of the emerging state periodically accepted the supremacy of the Kings of East Francia, but they continuously endeavored to strengthen the independent status of their country.

Unprecedented cultural development resulted from the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius, who came during the reign of Prince Rastislav in 863. The empire reached its greatest territorial extent under Svatopluk I (871–894), although the borders of his dominions are still under debate. He also achieved to have his independent status acknowledged by Pope John VIII who styled Svatopluk "king" in a letter.

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Prague Castle

Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad) is a castle in Prague where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here. Prague Castle is one of the biggest castles in the world (according to Guinness Book of Records the biggest ancient castle) at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide. The history of the castle stretches back to the 9th century (870).

The first walled building was the church of Our Lady. The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded in the first half of the 10th century. The first convent in Bohemia was founded in the castle, next to the church of St. George. A Romanesque palace was erected here during the 12th century. In the 14th century, under the reign of Charles IV the royal palace was rebuilt in Gothic style and the castle fortifications were strengthened. In place of rotunda and basilica of St. Vitus began building of a vast Gothic church, that have been completed almost six centuries later. During the Hussite Wars and the following decades the Castle was not inhabited. In 1485 King Ladislaus II Jagello begins to rebuild the castle.

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Gorol men's choir from Jabłonków during the parade of the festiwal in Karwina.

The Polish minority in the Czech Republic is a Polish national minority living mainly in the Zaolzie region of western Cieszyn Silesia. The Polish community is the only national (or ethnic) minority in the Czech Republic that is linked to a specific geographical area. Zaolzie is located in the north-eastern part of the country. It comprises Karviná District and the eastern part of Frýdek-Místek District. Many Poles living in other regions of the Czech Republic have roots in Zaolzie as well.

Poles formed the largest ethnic group in Cieszyn Silesia in the 19th century, but at the beginning of the 20th century the Czech population grew. The Czechs and Poles collaborated on resisting Germanization movements, but this collaboration ceased after World War I. In 1920 the region of Zaolzie was incorporated into Czechoslovakia after an armed conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia. Since then the Polish population demographically decreased. In 1938 it was annexed by Poland and in 1939 by Nazi Germany. The region was then given back to Czechoslovakia after World War II. Polish organizations were re-created, but were banned by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. After the Velvet Revolution Polish organizations were re-created again and Zaolzie had adopted bilingual signs.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/4 The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on January 5, 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček came to power, and continued until August 21, when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to halt the reforms. The Prague Spring reforms were an attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. Among the freedoms granted were a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. Dubček also federalized the country into two separate republics; this was the only change that survived the end of the Prague Spring.

The reforms were not received well by the Soviets who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. While there were many non-violent protests in the country, including the protest-suicide of a student, there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until 1990. After the invasion, Czechoslovakia entered a period of normalization: subsequent leaders attempted to restore the political and economic values that had prevailed before Dubček gained control of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Gustáv Husák, who replaced Dubček and also became president, reversed almost all of Dubček's reforms. The Prague Spring has become immortalized in music and literature such as the work of Karel Kryl and Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/5 Zaolzie was an area disputed between Poland and Czechoslovakia, west of Cieszyn. The term "Zaolzie" is used predominantly in Poland (literally meaning "lands beyond the Olza River") and also commonly by the Polish community living on this territory. In Czech it is more frequently referred to with the term České Těšínsko/Českotěšínsko or by the neutral Těšínsko and Těšínské Slezsko (meaning Cieszyn Silesia). Zaolzie was made up of the former districts of Těšín and Fryštát and since the 1960 reform of administrative divisions it has been made up of Karviná District and the eastern part of Frýdek-Místek District. It is de facto eastern part of the western portion of Cieszyn Silesia.

Historically, the largest ethnic group inhabiting this area were the Poles. Under Austrian rule, the Cieszyn area was divided into four districts. One of them, Friedeck, had a mostly Czech population, the other three were mostly inhabited by Poles. During the 19th century the number of Germans grew. After decline at the end of the 19th century, at the beginning of the 20th century and later from 1920 to 1938, the Czech population grew significantly (mainly as a result of immigration and the assimilation of locals) and Poles became a minority, which they are to this day. Another significant ethnic group were the Jews, but almost the entire Jewish population was exterminated during World War II.

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Charles Bridge and Prague Old Town

Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau), the Charles Bridge used to be the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle and adjacent areas until 1841. Also this 'solid-land' connection made Prague important as a trade route between east and west Europe. The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870.

The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

During the night Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.

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Prague by night

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated on the River Vltava in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural, and economic centre of the Czech state for over 1100 years. The city proper is home to more than 1.2 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million.

Prague is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe with preserved examples from all periods of history (avoiding major calamities and wars) and is among the most visited cities on the continent. Since 1992, the extensive 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. Nicknames for Prague have included "the mother of cities", "city of a hundred spires" and "the golden city".

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Ostrava view from its city hall

Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic, however it is the second largest urban agglomeration after Prague. It is also the administrative center of the Moravian-Silesian Region and of the Municipality with Extended Competence. Ostrava is located at the confluence of the Ostravice, Oder and Opava rivers. Its history and growth have been largely affected by exploitation and further usage of the high quality black coal deposits discovered in the locality, giving the town a look of an industrial city and a nickname of the “steel heart of the republic” during the communist era of Czechoslovakia. Many of the heavy industry companies are being closed down or transformed nowadays.

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Countries with majority Slavic ethnicities and at least one Slavic national language

The Slavic peoples are an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly in Europe. From the early 6th century they spread from their original homeland (most commonly thought to be in Eastern Europe) to inhabit most of eastern Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Many settled later in Siberia and Central Asia or emigrated to other parts of the world.

Modern nations and ethnic groups called by the ethnonym "Slavs" are considerably genetically and culturally diverse and relations between them are varied, ranging from a sense of connection to feelings of mutual resentment. Slavic peoples are classified into West Slavic (including Czechs, Poles, Slovaks and Sorbs), East Slavic (including Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians), and South Slavic (including Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes). For a more comprehensive list, see Ethno-cultural subdivisions.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/10 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

On August 21, 1968, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, after failed negotiations, in order to prevent Alexander Dubček's Prague Spring reforms from continuing.

In the operation, codenamed "Danube", the Soviets sent thousands of troops from several Warsaw pact countries; 72 Czechoslovaks were killed by Soviet tanks. The invasion was successful in stopping the partial democratization reforms and strengthening the authority of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The foreign policy of the Soviet union during this era would be known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.

Dubček was appointed as leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) after the resignation of Antonín Novotný.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/11 Battle of the Dukla Pass, also known as the Dukla / Carpatho-Dukla / Rzeszów-Dukla / Dukla-Prešov Offensive or Operation was the scene of bitterly contested battle for the Dukla Pass (borderland between Poland and Slovakia) on the Eastern Front of World War II between Nazi Germany and Soviet Union in September-October 1944.

German resistance was much harder then expected. The battle which began on September 8 would not see the Soviet forces on the other side of the pass until 6 October, and German forces would stop their heavy resistance in the region only around October 10. Five days to Presov turned into fifty days to Svidnik alone with over 200,000 casualties on both sides. Presov that was to be reached in six days remained beyond the Czechoslovaks' grasp for four months. The battle would be counted among one of the most bloody in the entire Eastern Front and in the history of Slovakia; one of the valleys in the pass near villages of Kapisova, Chyrowa, Iwla and Głojsce would become known as the Valley of Death.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/12 Czech language is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs all over the world. Czech is quite similar to and mutually intelligible with Slovak and, to a lesser degree, to Polish or Sorbian in eastern Germany.

Czech is widely spoken by most inhabitants of the Czech Republic, however, there is no special "language" law for its use. As given by appropriate laws, courts and authorities act and make out documents and executions in the Czech language (financial authorities also in the Slovak language). People who do not speak Czech have the right to get an interpreter. Instructions for use in Czech must be added to all marketed goods.

The right to one's own language is guaranteed by the Constitution for all national and ethnic minorities. Since May 2004, Czech is also one of the 23 official languages in the European Union.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/13 Sudetenland was the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia associated with Bohemia. The name is derived from the Sudeten mountains, though the Sudetenland extended beyond these mountains which run along the border to Silesia and contemporary Poland. The German inhabitants were called Sudeten Germans. The German minority in Slovakia, the Carpathian Germans, is not included in this ethnic category.

The regions later called Sudetenland were situated on the borders of the Kingdom of Bohemia, which also consisted of Moravia and other lands (Silesia, Lusatia, etc.). After the extinction of the Přemyslid dynasty, the kingdom was ruled by the Luxemburgs, later the Jagiellonians and finally the Habsburgs. Already from the 13th century onwards the border regions of Czech lands, called Sudetenland in the 20th century, were settled by ethnic Germans, who were invited by the Bohemian kings.

The Habsburgs gradually integrated the Kingdom of Bohemia into their monarchy since the 17th century, and it remained a part of that realm until its dismemberment after World War I. Conflicts between Czech and German nationalists emerged in the 19th century, for instance in the Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas: while the German-speaking population wanted to participate in the building of a German nation state, the Czech-speaking population insisted on keeping Bohemia out of such plans.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/14 Osvobozené divadlo (1926-1938) was a Prague avant-garde theatre scene founded as the theatre section of an association of Czech avant-garde artists Devětsil in 1926. The theatre's beginnings were strongly influenced by Dadaism and Futurism, later by Poetism (a specific Czech art movement). The theatre was also very leftist oriented, however, it was critical also towards communists. One of the founders, Jiří Frejka, came up with the name in 1926. In the theatre both authorial plays and works by well-established modern authors; such as G. Apollinaire, A. Jarry, J. Cocteau, A. Breton, F. T. Marinetti, and V. Nezval were performed. The modern conception of the scene also laid more emphasis on lighting and theatrical conception adjured more cooperation and contacts between actors and audience.

The first performance took place on February 8, 1926, with the play Georges Dandin by Molière (it was renamed to Cirkus Dandin), the performance was not very successful. In 1927 the theatre moved to Umělecká beseda and in that time Jiří Voskovec and Jan Werich first appeared on the stage with their own play Vest Pocket Revue (a montage of dadaist gags, intellectual humour, and songs). The performance achieved great acclaim and Werich with Voskovec became a part of the ensemble. In the same year young pianist and composer Jaroslav Ježek joined in, and together with Werich and Voskovec represented the core of the theatre group during its whole existence. Jiří Frejka together with another important exponent and founder, E. F. Burian, left the theatre due to disputes with director Jindřich Honzl (an avant-garde theatre theorist who directed all plays of Osvobozené divadlo). The foursome (Voskovec, Werich, Ježek, and Honzl), but mainly Voskovec and Werich gradually became the most important part of the group and their cooperation and contribution is considered as very distinctive and legendary till now.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/15

Sněžka is the highest mountain in the Krkonoše Mountains, part of the Sudetes mountain range, rising to 1,602 metres (5,256 ft) above sea level. In German, it is known as Schneekoppe. It lies on the Polish-Czech border, and a border stone is placed on the very top of the mountain. Śnieżka is the highest point in the Czech Republic and one of the peaks forming the so called "Crown of the Polish mountains".

The mountain was initially called Pahrbek Sněžný in Czech and later as Sněžovka, with the eventual name Sněžka, meaning "snowy" or "snow covered", adopted in 1823. An older Polish name for the mountain was Góra Olbrzymia, meaning "giant mountain". The first recorded German name was Riseberg ("giant mountain", cf. Riesengebirge, "Giant Mountains", the German name for Karkonosze/Krkonoše), mentioned by Georg Agricola in 1546. 15 years later the name Riesenberg appears on Martin Hellwig's map of Silesia. The German name later changed to Riesenkoppe ("giant top") and finally to Schneekoppe ("snow top").

The first historical account of an ascent to the peak is in 1456, by an unknown Venetian merchant searching for precious stones. The first settlements on the mountain soon appeared, being primarily mining communities, tapping into its deposits of copper, iron and arsenic. The mining shafts, totalling 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) in length, remain to this day.

Portal:Czech Republic/Selected article/16

Topography of Bohemian Forest

The Bohemian Forest is a low mountain range in Central Europe. Geographically, the mountains extend from South Bohemia in the Czech Republic to Austria and Bavaria in Germany. They create a natural border between the Czech Republic on one side and Germany and Austria on the other. For historical reasons, the Bohemian and German sides have different names: in Czech, the Bohemian side is called Šumava and the Bavarian side Zadní Bavorský les, while in German, the Bohemian side is called Böhmerwald (literally, 'Bohemian Forest'), and the Bavarian side Bayerischer Wald (literally, 'Bavarian Forest'). In Czech, Šumava is also used as a name for the entire adjacent region in Bohemia.

This article deals primarily with the Bohemian side of the Šumava; for additional information on the Bavarian side see Bavarian Forest. The Bohemian Forest comprises heavily forested mountains with average heights of 800-1400 metres. The highest peak is Großer Arber (1456 m) on the Bavarian side; the highest peak on the Bohemian and Austrian side is Plechý (Plöckenstein) (1378 m). The range is one of the oldest in Europe, and its mountains are eroded into round forms with few rocky parts. Typical for the Bohemian Forest are plateaux at about 1000-1200 m with relatively harsh climates and many peat bogs. Jezerní slať (literally: lake moor) holds the record for the lowest average and absolute temperature in Bohemia, with a 2 °C annual average and a record low of -41.6 °C in 1987.

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The Labe near Děčín, Czech Republic

The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It originates in the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Germany and flowing into the North Sea. Its total length has been given as 1,091 kilometres (678 mi).

The Elbe rises at an elevation of about 1,400 metres (4,593 ft) in the Krkonoše (also known as Giant Mountains or in German as Riesengebirge) on the north west borders of the Czech Republic. Of the numerous small streams whose waters compose the infant river, the most important is the Bílé Labe, or White Elbe. After plunging down the 60 metres (197 ft) of the Labský vodopád, the latter stream unites with the steeply torrential Malé Labe, and thereafter the united stream of the Elbe pursues a southerly course, emerging from the mountain glens at and continuing on to Pardubice, where it turns sharply to the west. At Kolín some 43 kilometres (27 mi) further on, it bends gradually towards the north-west.

At the village of Káraný, a little above Brandýs nad Labem it picks up the Jizera. At Mělník its stream is more than doubled in volume by the Vltava, or Moldau, a river which winds northwards through Bohemia. Although upstream from the confluence Vltava is longer (434 km vs. 294), has larger discharge and larger drainage basin, due historical reasons (at the confluence the Vltava meets the Elbe at almost a right angle, so it appears as a tributary) river continues as Elbe.

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Karpacz (then Krummhübel) during the Gründerzeit

Krkonoše, also known as the Giant Mountains, is a mountain range in the Sudetes, divided between Poland and the Czech Republic. Its highest peak is Sněžka, which stands on the border between the two countries at a height of 1,602 metres (5,256 ft) above sea level, making it the highest peak in the Czech Republic. The mountains are famous for their skiing resorts; they also contain the source of the River Elbe. Large areas of the mountains are preserved as national parks by both countries: the Polish Karkonosze National Park and the Czech Krkonoše National Park. In 1992 Polish and Czech parts of the range were jointly designated a transboundary biosphere reserve under UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" program.

The Czech name "Krkonoše" is first mentioned as "Krkonoß" on a 1518 map by Nicholas Claudianus, and in a 1517 source as "Krkonošské hory." The origin of the name is unclear. The Czech word "krk" means "neck," while "noš" is connected to a root meaning "to carry." There may be a connection with the Old Greek word "krka" (meaning "Krummholz") or with the pre-Indo-European word "Corconti," which is first listed by Ptolemy and refers to a pre-Celtic or Germanic people.

The main ridge of the mountains runs in east-west direction and forms the border between Poland and the Czech Republic. Its highest peak, Sněžka, is the highest peak of the Czech Republic. The Silesian northern part in Poland drops steeply to Jelenia Góra valley, whereas the southern Czech part slowly lowers to the Bohemian basin. In the north-east direction the Giant Mountains continue to Rudawy Janowickie, in the south-east to Rýchory . The pass Novosvětský průsmyk at Jakuszyce forms the western border to the Jizera Mountains.

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