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Prague

Prague Itineraries

Perfect Day in Pilsen

Prague Castle, a Short Tour

Prague for Families

Prague for Romantics

Prague’s Whimsical Petřín Hill

The city of hundred spires

“City of hundred spires”, “the crown of the world”, “a stone dream”. These are some of the names attributed to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. It is recognized as one of the most picturesque and charming cities in Europe. Crowds from around the world visit, especially from May to September. It is home to numerous famous cultural attractions. Mainly it’s Old Town Square with the medieval Astronomical Clock and Gothic churches. It is a beer lover’s paradise and wine enthusiasts fancy with wines that are only available in the Czech Republic. On an easy day trip, you can go to the World War II Jewish holding camp in Terezin. Visit the bone chapel near Kutna Hora. Perhaps you would prefer to relax in the healing waters of Karlovy Vary.

Romantic Prague

Prague is often overlooked when it comes to romance, but it radiates romance. Walk along the fairy-tale cobblestone streets while viewing incredible architecture. Listen to classical music after a candlelit dinner. Observe amazing art and breath-taking views throughout the city. Prague is unquestionably one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Legend has it that May Day, a special day for lovers, can make your love eternal. Go to the statue of Karel Macha, a romantic poet, on Petřín Hill and kiss your loved one in front of the statue for eternal love.

A Beer Lover’s Paradise

Beer has been brewed here since at least the 12th century, nearly all lager. It is renowned for the high-quality hops used in production and pure water. The beer comes in both light and dark varieties. The two most popular brands are Budweiser Budvar and Pilsner Urquell. However, Kozel, Gambrinus, and Staropramen are also popular. You can take a day trip to Plzen and tour the Pilsner Urquell brewery. At this point, varieties are increasing with over 28 breweries and brewpubs throughout the city.  Traditional pubs, licensed by a single brewery, are limited to light or dark beer. Some say the country has the highest per-capita rate of beer consumption in the world.

Ever Tasted Czech Wine?

Chances are, if you did not try it on a trip to the Czech Republic, you probably have not had it. Because the country does not produce a lot, it rarely makes its way out and it not exported. The vineyards in Bohemia, just outside of Prague, only account for 4% of the wine. Czech wine is often referred to as Moravian wine because 96% is produced in the Moravia countryside. The whites are known to be more pleasant than the reds. If you are a wine lover, you can take a bus to Melnik for some Bohemian wine tasting.

The ‘Green Fairy’

A licorice-flavored green fire spirit. It is traditionally made from wormwood, anise, and sweet fennel absinthe and is up to 180 proof (US). The sale of the spirit has been booming in the Czech Republic. Criticized and banned for almost all of the 20th century, absinthe is once again available in Europe. Prague has quickly classified itself as the European Absinthe Capital. You can check out the Absinthe Museum or go to the Absinthe Experience Tasting.

The areas of Prague

Prague is a big city, but thanks to an excellent public transportation system is it easy to get around its 10 areas. During peak season, May to September, you are not going to be able to avoid the crowds in the touristy areas. Venture a few, or several, blocks out of these areas and you will see how quickly the crowds dissipate. Then you can experience a lot of things most tourists never see. Here is a glimpse into each area.

Prague 1: The heart of Prague; comprised of the districts Staré Mesto (Old Town), Nové Mesto (New Town), and Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter).

Prague 2: Includes the areas called Namesti Miru and Vinohrady. The two main squares Namestí Miru and Jíriho z Podebrad have restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Prague 3: Městská čast, a favored neighborhood with the most bars per capita in all of Europe. Additionally, located adjacent to Old Town and Vinohrady, it encompasses a trendier side.

Areas of Prague outside the city center

Prague 4: Prague’s most residential area, dominated by the Braník and Podolí neighborhoods. It has outdoor pubs, parks, and Czech restaurants; however, it isn’t desired by tourists.

Prague 5: The biggest area, located on the far side of the Castle. However, it is crowded with office buildings, cinema complexes, and malls.

Prague 6:  Located nearest to the airport. Therefore, it has some of Prague’s exclusive neighborhoods. This residential area has the highest concentration of consulates and embassies. In addition, is home to many diplomats and ambassadors.

Prague 7: Near the city center, you will find Sparta football stadium and Troja, Prague Zoo. Letna Park (Letenské sady), the biggest park in the center of Prague, is also located in this area.

Prague 8: Since it was hit by a flood in 2002, it has been going through a revitalization. It is an up and coming area.

Prague 9: Known for its Communist era public housing developments (panelaks). Thus, it’s full of commercial and industrial buildings and its large shopping center. As a result, the area is only popular when there is and event at the O2 Arena.

Prague 10: This quiet residential area is dominated by Hostivar Dam. Therefore, it is a great area to go swimming and sun tanning in the summer. It is surrounded by a forest with excellent hiking and biking trails. However, access by public transportation is limited.

Famous Tributes

Famous individuals have paid tribute to Prague throughout the centuries. G. Apollinaire, L. van Beethoven, F. M. Dostoyevsky, O. Kokoschka, W. A. Mozart, A. Rodin, P. I. Tchaikovsky, Pope John Paul II, and Queen Elizabeth II.

Writers and poets, such as Max Brod, Jaroslav Hasek, Franz Kafka, Egon Erwin Kisch, Jan Neruda, and Jaroslav Seifert, have all featured Prague, their home town, in their work.


When To Go

Prague is beautiful year round. It does not get too hot in the summer months, nor too cold in the winter months.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Prague. With temperatures around 10 – 15°C (40-59°F) on an average day in late March, April and into May, it is perfect for walking through the city and the parks. This is the time of year you don’t have to worry about the crowds either. Peak tourist season is in the summer months of July and August. Spring is also an excellent time to enjoy the longer days with the sun lighting up the sky until 9 pm.

Summer in Prague is busy. The weather is hottest in July and August averaging 20-25°C (68-77°F) which is very manageable with walking through the city. However, occasionally the temperature can reach 30-35°C (86-95°F). It is also the longest daylight hours with the sun going down around 10 pm. Prague has the most visitors during July and August so if you don’t like crowds and having to wait in lines, then you may not want to visit during the summer months. Summer showers are also very common in Prague, so it is a good idea to bring an umbrella or light raincoat with you.

Fall, similar the spring, is a fantastic time to visit. The crowds are smaller and the weather is starting to cool down. The changing color of all the leaves turning into bold yellows and bright oranges make the city vibrantly beautiful. The daylight hours are now starting to get shorter, but Prague is captivating after sunset.

Winter can be one of the most beautiful times to visit Prague. With snow dusted rooftops, and minimal tourists it can be perfect for the travelers who enjoy the quieter and cold weather. Prague does not get too cold in the winter, but temperatures can drop below -10°C (14°F). Keep in mind the daylight hours are a lot shorter now as well. It will get dark after 4:00 pm in December and 5:00 pm in February. Exploring the Christmas markets are a magnificent way to spend the day in December.

How Much Time To Spend

There are many things to see and do in Prague. The longer you can stay the better, however, even if you only have a weekend or 24 hrs, you will still enjoy Prague. My recommendation is to try to go for a week to see many of the amazing things Prague has to offer.

High and Low Season

Peak Season: July to August
Low Season: November, January to February
Mid-Season: March to June, September to October, December

Weather and Climate

Prague weather is nice year round. It does not get too hot in the summer months and not too cold in the winter months, which makes it an ideal city to visit any time of the year.
January is usually the coldest month with temperatures averaging from a high of about 2°C to a low of -4°C (36°F – 25°F).

The hottest month is usually July with temperatures averaging 23°C and a low of 13°C (73°F – 55°C).

The wettest month is May and July with 69mm of rainfall.
For up to date weather information go to world weather online.

Events and Holidays

The following is a list of the holidays and a few events in Prague.

Jan 1       New Year’s Day National holiday
Jan 1       Restoration of the Czech Independence Day National holiday
Feb 10    Carnival/Ash Wednesday Christian
Mar 20    Palm Sunday Christian
Mar 20    March equinox Season
Mar 24    Maundy Thursday Christian
Mar 25    Good Friday National holiday
Mar 26    Holy Saturday Christian
Mar 27    Easter Day Christian
Mar 28    Easter Monday National holiday
May 1     Labor Day / May Day National holiday
May 5     Ascension Day Christian
May 8     Victory in Europe Day National holiday
May 8      Mother’s Day
May 16   Whit Monday Christian
May 22    Trinity Christian
Jun 20     June Solstice Season
Jul 5        Saints Cyril and Methodius National holiday
Jul 6        Jan Hus Day National holiday
Sep 22    September equinox Season
Sep 28    St. Wenceslas Day National holiday
Oct 28     Independent Czechoslovak State Day National holiday
Nov 17    Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day National holiday
Nov 27    First Advent
Dec 4      Second Advent
Dec 11    Third Advent
Dec 18    Fourth Advent
Dec 21    December Solstice Season
Dec 24    Christmas Eve National holiday
Dec 25    Christmas Day National holiday
Dec 26    St. Stephen’s Day National holiday

Time Zone

The Czech Republic is located in the (CEST) – Central European Summer Time and the (CET) Central European Time

For the exact time in Prague right now click here.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) happens in the Spring (last Sunday in March at 1AM) when clocks are advanced one hour. In the Autumn (last Sunday in October at 1AM), clocks shift back one hour to standard time to give more daylight in the morning.

What To Pack and Wear

Like any trip, packing depends on what you plan on doing and the time of the year you are going. Weather can be unpredictable.  You will need some comfortable shoes for walking on the uneven cobblestone streets.

What it Costs

Abstract Pricing at a Glance

Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We don’€™t want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.

Price ranges are quoted in €

See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
Free
€ => Tickets less than €15 per person
€€ => Tickets €15- €30 per person
€€€ => Tickets €30 per person

Sleep — Out of town/rural
€ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
€€ => Rooms €60 – €100 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €100 for a double

Sleep — Large Cities
€ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
€€ => Rooms €100 – €150 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €150 for a double

Eat
€=> €5- €10 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€ => €10 – €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€€ => €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)

Shop         
N/A => Not applicable

Tours
€ => Tickets less than €25 per person
€€ => Tickets €25 – €50 per person
€€€ => Tickets €50 per person

Currency Converter

Currency rates vary daily. There are many currency converter sites available online. I use Google Currency Converter. 

When in Prague, it is best to go to the bank to exchange your money. You will receive the best exchange rate there.

Airfare and Car Rental Prices

Fly the Friendly Skies

Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh.

But you can get notifications from companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.

Sites like Momondo also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.

I personally always go to Google Flights and check out pricing for all my flights.

That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings. European operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Air France-KLM, Jet2, British Airways, flybe and Lufthansa offer an extensive range of routes in Europe.

Have Car, Will Travel

Like airlines, car rental rates are all over the map. Companies like Expedia and Hotwire offer comparison price shopping.

Zipcar is another choice for rentals. Available in many major cities and college towns in the U.S., Zipcar is a great alternative for super-short term rentals. Picture this scenario: you are in a big city with terrific public transport, so you don’t need a car. But then you hear about an amazing restaurant 20 miles away in the suburbs. You can’t go home without trying it. A taxi would cost a fortune. You’d have to wait a long time to get a return taxi. Download the Zipcar app; search for a nearby Zipcar locale. Memberships cost about €8 a month; rentals are about €8-13.50 per hour; fuel and insurance are included.

Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber, are also ubiquitous in major cities. Through a smart phone app, you can line up rides all over town. It’s convenient because no money changes hands (payment is made through the app) and it’s usually cheaper than a taxi. Another bonus? After requesting a ride, you can see where the driver is on a map, so you know that they are on their way and how long it will be for them to arrive.

All the major car rental companies such as Avis, Sixt, Hertz and Europcar operate throughout Europe. It is not normally possible to rent in the UK and take the vehicle to mainland Europe or vice versa.

Insurance

Hopefully, your trip to (or within) Europe goes without a glitch. But what if an unexpected situation arises? Will you lose the money you invested in the trip? Will you need quick cash to cover sudden costs?

Travel insurance policies are meant to cover these unexpected costs and assist you when problems arise. The fee is typically based on the cost of the trip and the age of the traveler.

Most travel insurance providers offer comprehensive coverage that usually includes protection for the following common events:

Trip Cancellation — About 40 percent of all claims fall in this category.

Medical — Travelers within Europe from European Union member states should obtain an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) card which entitles them to healthcare on the same terms as citizens from the country they are visiting. This is a reciprocal agreement which means for example that EEA visitors to the UK will receive free care in NHS hospitals in the same way that UK residents do. Some countries e.g. France make a charge known as a patient contribution for GP visits or stays in hospital for both their own citizens and visitors from the EEA. Even so, travelers are well advised to have additional medical insurance to cover for example the cost of repatriation, mountain rescue in ski resorts and other emergencies.

For travelers from outside the European Union the cost of health services in Europe, while not as high as in the US for example, can be relatively expensive for the uninsured. For this reason it is essential to consider purchasing medical insurance. If you have a Health Care Plan back home it may cover you for most situations which arise abroad but you need to check this out and in any case additional medical travel insurance will cover you for private health care or other expenses.

Some countries outside the European Union have a reciprocal agreement for healthcare with certain European countries. For example Switzerland has an agreement with all European Union countries and Australia has agreements with the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and others. It pays to check before leaving home.

Trip Interruption — For example, if you become ill during your trip or if someone at home gets sick, and you have to get off the cruise ship or abandon a tour. The insurer will often pay up to 150% of the cost of your trip to get you home.

Travel Delay — Insurance usually covers incidentals like meals and overnight lodging while you wait to travel home.

Baggage — Insurance will typically cover lost and mishandled baggage.

Some insurance companies allow you to purchase a policy that allows you to cancel for any reason. This may cost more (often 10% or more), but it is worthwhile for certain travelers.

Do I need travel insurance?

If your trip is expensive it’s essential and even if it isn’t it’s certainly a good idea. Your age and health are important factors. Your English or other European language skills are also crucial because insurance policies often include concierge services with 24-hour hotlines that can connect you quickly with someone who speaks your language.

How do I choose an insurance provider?

Do your homework — check around.

The largest insurers in the U.S. include Travel Guard, Allianz and CSA Travel Protection. Smaller reputable companies include Berkley, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, Travel Insured International and Travelex. You may also find deals through aggregates like Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip.

Many airlines and travel companies also offer travel insurance when you book your flight (often contracted with the above major players).

In Europe the largest insurers are Allianz, Axa and Zurich but there are many smaller providers such as insureandgo and Direct Line.

Pre-existing health conditions — Many policies have exclusion policies if you have a pre-existing medical condition or charge an additional premium related to the condition. Some companies also offer waivers that overwrite the exclusion if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame of paying for your trip (e.g., within 24 hours of buying your cruise package). Again, it’s best to check the fine print.

Credit card insurance — If you buy your airfare or trip with a credit card, you may be partially covered by the credit card’s issuing bank. Check directly with the company to find out exactly what’s covered, as many have “stripped down” coverage and restrictions.

Exchange Rates and Currency

Currency

The main currency of Europe is the Euro which is currently used in 25 countries a few of which are not even EU members. Some countries within the European Union have retained their original currency including the Czech Republic (crown),  the UK (Pound), Denmark (Kroner) and Poland (Zloty). Most non-EU countries such as Switzerland (Swiss Franc) and Turkey (Lira) continue to use their own currency. All are decimalised and have 100 ‘pennies’ in each main unit.

Czech banknotes are issued in the following denominations: 100/200/500/1000/2000/5000. Some establishments will accept the Euro, but don’t count on it and most do not accept coins. You should receive a better exchange rate for Czech Crowns by changing money in Prague rather than in your home country. Be sure you are always using an official Bank ATM machine and never exchange money from anyone on the street.

Euros come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 notes. They vary in size from 120mm x 62mm (€5) to 160mm x 82mm (500) and color, so it is easy to differentiate between them. All feature European architecture throughout the ages. (Smaller businesses may not accept the larger notes, so plan to have €20s or smaller notes in hand)

There are eight denominations of euro coin: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent plus a €1 and €2 coin. All have a common side and a national side. Remember to spend all coins before you leave – they can’t be exchanged!

Many travelers like to have a small amount of local currency when they arrive in a country but this is becoming less and less important as ATMs and Bureaux de Change appear everywhere especially in transport terminals.

Money, ATMs, Credit Cards

ATMs

If you get money from an ATM machine abroad you will usually incur charges (typically 1.5 or 2% per transaction)

Credit Cards

Credit and debit cards are accepted widely throughout Europe.

Don’t forget to call your debit and/or credit card company before you travel to inform them of your planned itinerary. If you don’t do this in advance, you risk having your card denied/declined when you try to use it in a destination far from home. You should also call your company immediately to report loss or theft. The numbers to call are usually on the back of the card — which doesn’t make sense if they are lost or stolen. So make a note of them and store them where you’ll have easy access.

Recently, companies have been issuing cards with embedded chips that prevent counterfeit fraud. Banks and merchants that don’t offer the chip-and-PIN technology are beginning to be held liable for fraud. Check with your bank and credit card company for details on your specific cards.

Tipping and Costs That Add Up

The good news for travelers in Europe is that you don’t need to get stressed about tipping – you don’t have to do it and when you do it really should reflect good or excellent service rather than be something you are expected to do. On the whole workers in tourism are reasonably well paid and don’t depend upon tips to make up their wages. In some cases over-tipping can be embarrassing for all concerned.

Restaurants
Many restaurants include a ‘service’ charge in the price so check and, if it isn’t mentioned, then a tip of between 5 – 10% is quite enough. Even where it is included but you feel that you’ve had really excellent service then the same amount is adequate but ensure that your server receives this by handing it directly to them.

Other methods are to add a euro or two (or equivalent in crowns) for each member of the party or round up the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 euros.

Taxis
With taxis, just round up to the next euro (or equivalent in crowns) for a short journey or, for a long ride, to the nearest ten. Again 10% is the maximum you should consider unless of course the driver carries your bags into the hotel or airport when a little more will be appreciated.

Hotels
You may wish to give the porter a euro (or equivalent in crowns) for each bag he carries but, while it will be appreciated, it is not normally expected. Similarly you may wish to leave a small tip for the housekeeping staff, especially if they have been particularly helpful, but this is completely up to you.

Other costs:
Invariably, there are incidental costs associated with being on the road. Make sure to budget between €10 and €40 per day for batteries, lost phone chargers, insect repellent, headache medicine, sunburn relief and other personal items you might have forgotten. If you’re traveling with kids, consider the snack budget. Local grocery, super/hypermarkets and pharmacies will be cheaper than tourist shops for all of the above.

Transportation

Getting There

There are many ways to get to Prague…..

Fly the Friendly Skies
Airfares are a fickle thing. When you need it to be low, it’s high. And when prices dip, what happens? You can’t get off work to travel. Sigh. The good thing is that there are 46 airline carriers that fly in and out of Prague’s Václav Haval Airport Prague.
You can get notifications from several companies like Kayak, which will email you when airfares drop. Type your destination and the dates you are watching and boom, when there’s a deal, you’ll hear about it immediately via your inbox.
Sites like Momondo, Expedia, Cheap O Air, Google Flights, and many others also display prices for multiple airlines, so you can compare rates without visiting individual airline sites.
That said, there is an advantage to visiting an individual airline’s site. Why? Because some of their really great deals don’t show up on the aggregator airfare sites. Most airlines share limited-time, super-specials via their Facebook pages or email blasts. So it pays to be their ‘friend’ or subscribe to their e-mailings. European operators such as easyJet, Ryanair, Air France-KLM, Jet2, British Airways, flybe and Lufthansa offer an extensive range of routes in Europe.

Take a Train
The main railway station in Prague is the Praha hlavni nadrazi. It is the busiest station in all of the Czech Republic. It provides international connections and is home to Czech speed trains.  The station is a 15 – 20 minute walk to Old Town Square or a 5 – 10 minute walk to Wenceslas Square.
You can take Metro Line C (red) to Holešovice, just three stops away, for other international connections.
To find out more about train travel options and to book a ticket go to the Prague Train website.

Getting Around

From the Airport
If you have arrived by plane, then your first local transportation is getting to your accommodations. Public transportation is always cheaper, but if you have a lot of luggage you will probably want a taxi or a shuttle if you do not have transportation from your hotel picking you up. The airport is about 15 km (9 miles) from Prague city center, so it can take up to 40 minutes by car depending on traffic and about 30 minutes on the bus and subway. The following is per person, one-way.
Bus 32 CZK (good for 90 minutes)
Shuttle 150 CZK
Taxi 270 CZK (booked in advance)

Getting Around the City
Once you are in the city the public transportation system is great. With the subway, trains, and buses you can easily get anywhere you need. Be sure to get a map at the train station to make your transportation planning easier. You can also go online to find out which train to take if you know the names of the stops.

Transportation Hubs

Praha hlavní nádraží is the main train station in Prague. It takes just 5 minutes to get to Wenceslas Square and 15 minutes to get to Old Town Square from the station.

Václav Havel is Prague’s international airport.

Tickets

Prague Public Transportation Tickets and Passes

Single-Trip Tickets
A ticket must be punched at the entrance to the metro station and on the tram/bus to mark the start of the validation period.
The Prague public transport system uses two types of single-trip tickets:

30-minute ticket: 24 CZK
Adults: 24 CZK
Children 6-15 years: 12 CZK
Children under 6: free

90-minute ticket: 32 CZK
Adults: 32 CZK
Children 6-15 years: 16 CZK
Children under 6: free
*You can purchase a 90-minute ticket from the driver for 40 CZK.

All tickets can be used with any combination of public transportation and transfers between lines for the length of time purchase from time of validation.

Tickets are sold through yellow ticket vending machines and only accept coins (available in English), ticket offices located at some metro stations, some news stands, a Tabák/Trafika, and tourist information centers. You can now buy tickets by using your mobile phone and sending the text message “DPT24” or “DPT32” to the number 902 06. Your ticket will usually be sent to your phone within one minute.  If you requested a ticket by SMS, you must have received your ticket
before you enter the vehicle or the paid zone on the subway.

Passes

There are two short-term and four long-term passes available:

Short-term (tourist) passes

24-hour pass: 110 CZK (children 6-15 years: 55 CZK)
3-day pass (72 hours): 310 CZK

Long-term passes (issued with a photo-ID)

Monthly: 550 CZK
Quarterly: 1,480 CZK
5-month: 2,450 CZK
Annual: 4,750 CZK

All passes, like tickets, can be used with any combination of public transportation and transfers between lines for the duration of the valid pass. Children under 6 ride free.

Short-term (tourist) passes can be purchased at ticket offices located at some metro stations and tourist information centers. Long-term passes can be purchased at ticket offices at some metro stations.

Ticket offices are located at many metro stations, (e.g. Dejvická, Florenc, Hlavní nádraží, Holešovice, Hradčanská, Můstek,   NádraÅ¾í  Náměstí Míru) and are usually open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. however, some do close for lunch.

Online Schedules and Connections
Prague public transport schedules and connections are available online at  Prague Public Transit Co. website: dpp.cz.

Source: Prague Public Transit Co.

Background

History

Prague’s history dates back a very long time. It has gone through many circles of peace, prosperity, war, and decline. Archaeologists have documented prehistoric Central European cultures in Prague dating back to the Stone Age of about 5500 BC to 4300 BC. It is estimated that early communities were established around 4000 BC by various Germanic and Celtic tribes, followed by the arrival of the Slavs.

In the 8th century the first established settlement was built in what is now known as Lesser Town (Mala Strana), in present day Prague. The 9th century saw a settlement constructed on the hilltop site above Lesser Town where Prague Castle was later built around 875 AD by Prince Borivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty. Prague was officially founded around 900 AD; however, bricks found under Prague Castle date back to 885 AD. The first church built on the grounds of Prague Castle was constructed on the site of St. Vitus Cathedral around 926 AD.

The first Bohemian King, Vratislav I, took residences in Prague in 1085. The name Bohemia comes from a Celtic tribe named Boii. It is still used today in some of the western part of the Czech Republic. The second stone bridge to be built in Central Europe was built in Prague, the Judita’s Bridge in 1172, which later became The Charles Bridge.

The Old Town (Staré mesto) was founded in 1231. It was followed by the establishment of Lesser Town (Malá Strana) in 1257 by Premysl Otakar II. In the 1330’s Prague’s third town, Hradcany was established.

Charles IV became king of Bohemia in 1346 (to 1378) and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1355 – 1378). He was the first to become King of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor at the same time. After Charles settled in Prague real estate prices rose dramatically and the small city became the third largest in Europe. Charles was a visionary and he wanted to see his home city flourish. He built the first university in Europe (Charles University 1348), the Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral, and commissioned the Charles Bridge after a flood destroyed the Judith Bridge. The foundation of New Town (Nové Mesto) was also founded in 1348 by Charles IV. After Charles’s death the Hussite wars swept through the country from 1419 to 1437 due to religious conflicts between the Hussites, led by university professor Jan Hus, and the Roman Catholic Church.

The seat of power moved from Prague to Vienna in 1526 as the reign of the Habsburg Dynasty began. During this time Prague Castle was renovated and restored in a Renaissance style with a number of recreational spots added to the grounds. In 1575 Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, became King. He moved the court back to Prague in 1583 when he moved into Prague Castle. Prague then earned the nick name “Magic Prague” as it became the center for alchemy, art and science. One of the most celebrated eras in Prague history came to an end with the death of Rudolph II in 1612.

From 1620 to 1648 the Czech Republic faced many uprisings and wars including the Battle of White Hill (Bila Hora) in 1620, the Thirty Years War, then the Saxons and then the Swedes pillaging the city.

In 1784 the four towns of Prague – Hradcany, Malá Strana, Nové Mesto, and Staré Mesto – were joined into a single city by imperial decree.

As WWI ended in October 1918, Czechoslovakia declared its independence, with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Prague became the capital, and Masaryk, a writer and political philosopher, became its first president.

Prague and the rest of the of Czechoslovakia became occupied by Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler during World War II from 1939 – 1945. Almost all of Prague’s 120,000 Jewish community members and about 90% of all the Jewish people in Bohemia and Moravia died of starvation or died in concentration camps. The Prague Uprising and liberation by the Soviet Red Army ended World War II in 1945. Then the Communist Party seized power in 1948. After the failed attempt of the “Prague Spring” by Alexander Dubcek in 1968, five Warsaw Pact member countries invaded Czechoslovakia.

The Velvet Revolution brought an end to communism in 1989 and Czechoslovakia became a democratic country. The first democratic elections named Václav Havel the country’s first elected president in 1990. Three years later, in 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two independent countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic. Václav Havel was again elected and was the first president of the Czech Republic in January 1993.

The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and then the country is accepted as a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004.

Language

The official language of Prague and the Czech Republic is Czech. However, many people speak some English. You will have no problems communicating with people in the tourists areas. In the residential and non-tourist areas it may be more difficult.