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What you need to know

Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, is bisected by the Vltava River. Nicknamed “the City of a Hundred Spires,” it’s known for its Old Town Square, the heart of its historic core, with colorful baroque buildings, Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock, with a popular show. Completed in 1402, pedestrian Charles Bridge is lined with 30 statues of saints.

FLAG OF PRAGUE

 

Climate

The location of Prague in Central Europe marks for extreme weather patterns and striking differences inbetween seasons. The changes in seasons add to the romantic appeal of Prague.

Prague has a mild to cold climate with rainfall throughout the year.

Winter temperatures range from below freezing to 5°C with little rainfall.

Spring temperatures range from 9-19°C with moderate rainfall.

Summer temperatures can range from 20-22°C, with tendencies of temperatures reaching 35°C but these hot periods are often broken by heavy thunder storms due to higher rainfall averages in the summer months.

Humidity levels also drop by around 20  during the summer.

BRIEF HISTORY

The history of the city goes back to the foundation of Prague Castle by Bořivoj in 870 AD.  Prague Castle has been a symbol of Czech history for centuries.  After 894 it became the main seat of the oldest ruling dynasty of the state Bohemia, the Premyslid princes (Premyslovci).

The first to leave a written record of the existence of a busy commercial center and settlement below Prague Castle was the Arab-Jewish merchant Ibrahim Jakub Ibn, who visited Prague in 965 or 966 and described it as a town “built of stone and mortar”.  During the first half of the 11th century, on the opposite bank of the Vltava, another castle was founded, called Vysehrad.  The first stone bridge (Judith’s) was built in 1172 and named after the queen Judith.

Prague became a town during 13th century and the Old Town and the Little Quarter were founded by colonization.  The beginning of the 14th  century saw a series of dynastic disputes – beginning with the death of Vaclav II. from consumption and excess in 1305. The following year, the murder of his son, the heir, Vaclav III., marked the end of the Premyslid dynasty and Bohemia was left without a male heir.

In 1310 Czech nobles offered the throne to John of Luxembourg but it was his son Charles IV. (1346-1378), king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who ushered in Prague’s golden age and made it his residential capital.  King Charles IV. carried out the reconstruction of Prague in High Gothic style, adding new, expensive buildings such as the Castle, at Vysehrad and in the town.  He founded the oldest university in Central Europe in Prague (1348), Charles University, founded and built the New Town of Prague (1348) and adorned his residential town with numerous structures and public buildings like Charles Bridge (1357), magnificent St. Vitus’ cathedral, the Slavonic Abbey, the church at Karlov and many others.  With its 50 000 inhabitants and covering an area of 8.1 km2 Prague became the largest town in Europe at that time. Shortly after the Emperor’s death in 1378 difficulties cropped up.

In 1541 there was a great fire at Prague Castle, in Hradcany and the in the Little Quarter. Nor did Prague become the seat of the throne when Ferdinand, the Roman Catholic Hapsburg was elected King of Bohemia (1526) and the Kingdom of Bohemia became part of the Hapsburg monarchy and after the defeat of the first anti-Hapsburg uprising of the Bohemian Estates (1547) the Prague towns people lost a large part of their property and political privileges.  But it was a period when culture flourished thanks to the personality and court of the art-loving Emperor Rudolph II. (1576-1612) who moved his seat to Prague in 1583 and endowed Prague’s galleries with the best Mannerist art in Europe and invited the respected astrologist Tycho de Brahe and Johannes Kepler and other famous scientists to his court.  From 1575 to 1577 there was a struggle over the Bohemian Confession, from 1608 to 1611 one of the focal points was the question of a successor to Rudolph II.

The defenestration at the Prague Castle in 1618, when the governors of the king were trown out of the window after a dispute, marks the date the 30 year war started in Europe with the catholics and the reformed fighting each other.  After the “Battle of the White Mountain” where the catholic Hapsburgs won, 27 of the leaders of the loosing team were decapitated on June 21, 1621 on Old Town square.  This day marks the coming of the dark ages for the Czechs, when the Hapsburgs take over until 1918.  During this time, the German language is introduced as the second, if not the more important language in the country. 

Unmistakable signs of reawakening appeared in Prague towns at the outset of the 18th century.  During the reign of the Hapsburg queen Maria Teresia, education was made mandatory for all children, boys and girls.  Commercial life developed favorably and many factories started working in the city.  In 1784 Emperor Joseph II. merged the four historical Prague Towns (the Old Town, New Town, Little Quarter and Hradčany) into one unified Capital City of Prague, which became the core of industrialization of Bohemia and the center of Bohemian national revival.  In Prague in the Josephine era the most diverse influences came to bear, giving rise to favorable conditions for the advance of the Czech National Reawakening.

After WWI, in 1918, Czechoslovakia became a republic with Tomáš Garrique Masaryk becoming its first president.

At the end of 1930’s, on 15th March 1939 Hitler’s armies occupied Prague.  The anti-fascist resistance of the people of Prague lasted more than six years, and, after the closure of the Czech universities on 17 November 1939 (International Student’s Day) and the assassination of the “Reichsprotektor” R. Heydrich (27 May 1942), reached its culmination in the Prague Uprising (5-9 May 1945).

After 1945 Prague’s role, size, structure and social importance were decided even more emphatically by national aspects imposed on it, without taking much account of the city’s own development needs.  With the Cold War in full swing the Stalinization of Czechoslovakian society was quick to follow.

In the year 1968 movement demanding “socialism with a human face” reached its climax. This events of the, so-called “Prague Spring”, lead to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On 21st August 1968 five countries of the Warsaw Pact occupied Prague.

1989 brought democracy to the country with Václav Havel becoming the president of the Czech Republic.

During 2003 the people of the country voted to become a member of the European Union.  This has taken effect on May 1, 2004.

On January 1st 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital.

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PRAGUE

The Charles Bridge

  

The Charles Bridge, that  links Old Town to Malá Strana, is a piece of medieval engineering that has stood the test of time. It functions both as the city’s visual centerpiece and the point around which modern Prague has flourished. The Charles Bridge is  “the epicenter of Czech spirit,”  that heightens the bridge’s status as a incredible work of art as well as a historic  landmark.

Population

The capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is a vibrant, busy city slightly west of the center of the country. With around 1.3 million inhabitants, Prague is also the largest city in the country. The Czech Republic is a truly central European area bordered by Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. One interesting fact about the city is that it is in the Guinness book for Records for having the largest castle in the world – covering 18 acres.

Prague Population 2014

The population is estimated at 1.3 million people in 2014 and is spread over 10 different districts within the city. The population, as one would expect, is denser in the very center and southern areas of Prague which includes Prague 2 and 3. Close to the center of the city is the old town area, home to many of the historic landmarks and points of touristic interest. The personalities of the different neighborhoods vary from historic to modern, and from touristic to intensely traditional. Prague 2 is an up and coming area, a desirable place to live for young professionals, those more wealthy inhabitants and also international residents. Prague 3 has a diverse offering with student bars, strip clubs and brothels on one side and good housing and new shopping areas on the other. Prague 4 is a more working class area and houses some of the great traditional Czech restaurants. Prague 7 it notable for its sporting areas and finally Prague 10 is a lesser known spot for tourists but offers excellent residential offering especially popular with families and young professionals.

Language

The official language of the Czech Republic is Czech, which is spoken by over 96 of its inhabitants. But don’t worry, nowadays you should have no problems communicating in English in most towns, and to a lesser extent in German. Older people often speak Russian and German.

Economy

Prague (Praha in Czech) has a well diversified economy with an emphasis on the industrial sector.

The city was negatively influenced by the recession in Russia (1999), although since the Czech’s entry into the European Union (2004) it has helped the economy regain its strength. EU entry has increased exports primarily to its neighbour Germany, and foreign investments have nearly doubled.

The Czech Republic is expected to adopt the Euro around the year 2012, and therefore the currency still in place is the Czech Korouna (CZK).

 Currency

The official currency of the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (koruna), abbreviated as Kč, with the international abbreviation CZK. 1 crown consists of 100 hellers (haléř), abbreviated as hal. Heller coins have not been in use as of September 1, 2008, but hellers are still incorporated into merchandise prices.

TRANSPORT

Prague Metro

The Prague Metro operates daily 05:00-24:00. Metro lines operate a service every 2-3 minutes during peak hours, and 4-9 minutes after 19:00.

There are 3 metro lines: A (green), B (yellow) and C (red). These cover all areas of the city centre.

The Prague Metro is safe and reliable, transporting passengers at high speed from one side of Prague to the other – Prague Metro map | Prague Metro information.

Prague Metro

Prague Trams

Daytime trams operate daily 04:30-24:00. The most popular trams run every 4 minutes. Other trams run every 8-10 minutes during the week, and every 8-15 minutes at weekends.

Night trams operate nightly 24:00-04:30. They run every 30 minutes, and are numbered 51 through 59.

Trams cover all areas of the city centre. Most useful trams: Tram 9 runs from Wenceslas Square in the New Town via the National Theatre, over the river to the Lesser Town. Tram 22 runs from the National Theatre over the river to the Lesser Town Square, and up to Prague Castle (a nice scenic route).

Prague Tram 

Prague Funicular Railway

A funicular railway runs from Újezd in the Lesser Town to the top of Petrin Hill. At the summit, set in landscaped gardens, is Petrin Observation Tower, a mirror maze and an observatory. The funicular also stops half way up the hill at Nebozizek Restaurant.

The funicular operates daily 09:00-23:30, every 10 minutes in the summer, 15 minutes in the winter.

The funicular railway forms part of the Prague public transport network, so tickets and passes used on trams, buses and the metro (see public transport tickets) can also be used to ride the funicular.

Prague Funicular Railway at Petrin 

Prague Trains

Praha hlavní nádraží train station

The main train station in Prague is Praha hlavní nádraží, which is near Wenceslas Square.

Metro: Hlavní nádraží – metro map (line C).

Nádraží Praha-Holešovice train station

A second railway station is located just outside the city centre, Nádraží Praha-Holešovice.

Metro: Nádraží Holešovice – metro map (line C).

Train Times & Ticket Reservations

Check train times and book tickets at České dráhy (Czech Railways). Information is in Czech, English and German (select ‘en’ or ‘de’ on the top right-hand corner of the website). Or, buy tickets from any train station.

BEACHES

During hot summer days like those we have right now back in Prague (check weather forecast), there is nothing better then to go to the beach. But there is a little problem with that – Czech Republic doesn’t have any sea! What to do then?

The solution is quite easy. You don’t have to have a sea in order to have a beach. You can visit a beach on the riverbank. And there is such a place in the very heart of Prague!

The 1st Prague beach is not only for sunseekers who want to top up their tans. There is a pretty big, 15×7 meters long, swimming pool that floats in the Vltava River. You can play beach volleyball, badminton or petanque on payment of a small fee. Sunbeds, sunshades as well as the swimming pool are included in price.

The 1st Prague beach on the Vltava River will welcome you with 500 tonnes of imported sand, 236 deckchairs and 1080 cubic meters of a pool water. Of course there is a playground for kids, as well as a restaurant with a bar, where they make a great Mojito.

At the evening serves the 1st Prague beach as a dancing place, live concerts take place here as well. Together with other entertainment, such as special night events called Fire & Coctail Show or Tropical Night and others, is 1st Prague beach the place to party!

The 1st Prague beach is along the west bank of the Vltava River by the Horejsi nabrezi (alongside the Botel Admiral), in between Palackeho and Zeleznicni bridges, just three blocks from the metro station Andel. The beach is open every day till the end of September from 9:30 a.m. For the whole day you pay 59 CZK; students 39 CZK ; kids and seniors 29 CZK.

Enjoy yourselves and stay cool in hot days!

Vltava Beach

Vltava Beach

The artificial beach on the banks of the River Vltava is a nice little touch and a unusual feature along the river bank.
The sand is clean and there are more swans and ducks taking advantage of this area than people but it does offer great view’s of the river and the bridges and is well worth checking out.

Natural Sand Lake