History & Culture
Given its location in the very heart of Europe, not to mention its turbulent political history, it is miraculous that modern Prague remains relatively unscathed. Hundred-spired Prague; Prague – the mother of cities; magical Prague. These are just three titles which the capital of the Czech Republic proudly wears. Since the very beginnings of the Czech state, it has been its natural political,business and cultural centre. This historic yet modern city is more than 1,000 years old. It has an extraordinary charm about it which can be sensed in every season. Its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site speaks for its worth.
Founded in the 9th century on the River Vltava, Prague was the official seat of the influential kings of Bohemia. With the dawning of the 14th century reign of Charles IV, the city became the capital of the Bohemian Kingdom and Holy Roman Empire and in 1348 its role as the epicentre of culture and progressive thought was confirmed with the foundation of Central Europe’s first university, the Charles University, within the city boundaries.
The area has brewed beer since the 12th century and devotees of the hop will be pleased to learn that the country’s distinctive pilsner, widely on sale in beer halls, bars and restaurants throughout the country, is recognised as the first light-coloured beer in the world.
When the state of Czechoslovakia was created after World War 1, Prague was quickly chosen as its cultural and economic capital. The city was invaded by Hitler’s troops at the beginning of 1939, and Prague found itself firmly behind the Iron Curtain when a brief attempt at democracy known as the Prague Spring prompted the Soviet Union to invade in 1968.
In 1989, as the Soviet Union began to crumble, a peaceful student demonstration - the so-called Velvet Revolution - led to the severing of ties with Moscow and in 1990, the country’s first free elections were held.