PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
I often feature some great city of the world. Today I present PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC.
PRAGUEPrague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe in terms of its setting on both banks of the Vltava River, its townscape of burger houses and palaces punctuated by towers, and its individual buildings.
The Historic Centre represents a supreme manifestation of Medieval urbanism (the New Town of Emperor Charles IV built as the New Jerusalem). The Prague architectural works of the Gothic Period (14th and 15th centuries), of the High Baroque of the 1st half of the 18th century and of the rising modernism after the year 1900, influenced the development of Central Europe, perhaps even all European architecture. Prague represents one of the most prominent world centres of creative life in the field of urbanism and architecture across generations, human mentality and beliefs.
Prague belongs to the group of historic cities which have preserved the structure of their development until the present times. Within the core of Prague, successive stages of growth and changes have respected the original grand-scale urban structure of the Early Middle Ages. This structure was essentially and greatly enlarged with urban activities in the High Gothic period with more additions during the High Baroque period and in the 19th century. It has been saved from any large-scale urban renewal or massive demolitions and thus preserves its overall configuration, pattern and spatial composition.
In the course of the 1100 years of its existence, Prague’s development can be documented in the architectural expression of many historical periods and their styles. The city is rich in outstanding monuments from all periods of its history. Of particular importance are Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Hradćany Square in front of the Castle, the Valdgtejn Palace on the left bank of the river, the Gothic Charles Bridge, the Romanesque Rotunda of the Holy Rood, the Gothic arcaded houses round the Old Town Square, the High Gothic Minorite Church of St James in the Stark Mĕsto, the late 19th century buildings and town plan of the Nave Mĕsto.
As early as the Middle Ages, Prague became one of the leading cultural centres of Christian Europe. The Prague University, founded in 1348, is one of the earliest in Europe. The milieu of the University in the last quarter of the 14th century and the first years of the 15th century contributed among other things to the formation of ideas of the Hussite Movement which represented in fact the first steps of the European Reformation. As a metropolis of culture, Prague is connected with prominent names in art, science and politics, such as Charles IV, Petr Parléř, Jan Hus, Johannes Kepler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka, Antonín Dvořák, Albert Einstein, Edvard Beneš (co-founder of the League of Nations) and Václav Havel.
History of Prague through the Centuries
- The Prague Castle is founded around 880 by prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid dynasty.
- Prague is established.
- Some members of the Premyslid dynasty embrace Christianity brought to the Czech lands by Cyril
- and Methodius, the "apostles of the Slavs".
- Foundations are laid to St. Vitus Rotunda and the Vyšehrad Castle.
- The Prague bishopric is founded in 973.
- Vratislav II becomes the first Czech king in 1085 but remains subordinate to the Holy Roman Empire
- and the German king.
- The first stone bridge over the Vltava, Judith Bridge, is built in 1172.
- The Old Town (Staré město) is founded in 1231.
- The Lesser Town (Malá Strana) is founded in 1257.
14th century - Prague's Golden Age
- John of Luxembourg rules the country (1310-1346).
- The Prague Castle Area (Hradčany) is founded around 1320.
- The Old Town Hall is founded in 1338.
- Judith Bridge collapses in a flood in 1342.
- Charles IV rules the country (1346-1378) and will be remembered as the most beloved Czech king.
- Prague becomes one of the most prosperous cities in Europe and the cultural capital of Central
- The Prague bishopric is upgraded to an archbishopric.
- Construction of St. Vitus cathedral begins.
- The New Town (Nové město) is founded in 1348.
- Charles University is established in 1348 and becomes the first university in Central Europe.
- Charles IV elected Holy Roman Emperor in 1355; Prague becomes the capital of the Holy Roman
- Construction of Charles Bridge begins in 1357.
- The Hussite wars are sweeping the country from 1419 to 1437 as a result of the religious conflicts
- between the Hussites and the Roman Catholic Church. Many historical artifacts are destroyed and
- the Prague Castle deteriorates.
16th century and Prague's Second Golden Age
- The reign of the Habsburg dynasty begins in 1526 and the seat of power moves to Vienna.
- Prague Castle is reconstructed in the Renaissance style and a number of recreational sites are added
- (the Royal Garden, the Belvedere, the Ballgame Hall, etc.)
- Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, is crowned the Czech king in 1575 and moves his court back to
- Prague in 1583. Prague becomes the center of science and alchemy and earns the nickname "Magic
- Prague". Many famous scientists are attracted to Prague, such as astronomers Tycho de Brahe and
- Johannes Kepler.
- The Protestant uprising begins in 1618.
- Protestants are severely defeated in the Battle of the White Mountain (bitva na Bílé hoře) in 1620.
- The Dark Age of the Czech history (doba temna) begins.
- Prague loses importance and the Prague Castle deteriorates.
- The four independent urban areas of Prague (Old Town, Malá Strana, Hradčany, New Town) are
- united by Joseph II in 1784.
- A Czech nationalist movement called the National Revival (národní obrození) begins in 1784.
- The Czech language, culture and national identity are being brought back to life.
- Joseph II issues the Edict of Tolerance in 1781, granting political and religious rights to religious
- The Industrial Revolution begins.
- A railway between Vienna and Prague opens in 1845.
- The growing industry results in an increase of Prague's Czech population as people move to the city
- from the countryside.
- Josefov is added to Prague's historical center in 1850.
- The National Revival continues. Czech institutions are established to celebrate the Czech history
- and culture: the National Theater opens in 1868, the National Museum opens in 1890.
- The Austro-Hungarian empire falls in 1918 and Prague becomes the capital of independent
- Prague Castle becomes the seat of the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.
- Prague becomes close with Paris between WWI and WWII.
- Prague and the rest of the country are occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II (1939-1945).
- The Prague Uprising and liberation by the Soviet Red Army end World War II in 1945.
- The Communist Party seizes power after the February 25, 1948 coup d'etat.
- Alexander Dubček, secretary of the Communist Party, attempts to create "socialism with a human
- face", culminating in the spring of 1968 ("Prague Spring").
- "Prague Spring" fails and five Warsaw Pact member countries invade Czechoslovakia on August 21,
- The Velvet Revolution starts in Prague on November 17, 1989 and brings an end to communism.
- Czechoslovakia becomes a democratic country.
- Václav Havel, former dissident, is elected president in the country's first democratic elections
- in January 1990.
- Czechoslovakia splits into two independent countries, Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1,
- 1993. Prague becomes the capital of the Czech Republic.
- Václav Havel is elected first president of the Czech Republic in January 1993.
- The Czech Republic joins NATO in 1999.
- In 2002, the Czech Republic is approved to become a member of the European Union.
- The Czech Republic is accepted into the European Union on May 1, 2004.