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HISTORY, LANDMARKS, MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is situated on the River Vltava in central Bohemia. Today, the city is home to more than 1.2 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The name Prague comes from an old Slavic root, praga, which means “ford”, referring to the city's origin at a crossing of the Vltava River.
The history of Prague spans thousands of years, during which time the city grew from a castle known as Vyšehrad to the multicultural capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic.
In recent years Prague has become one of Europe's (and the world's) most popular tourist destinations. With the growth of low-cost airlines in Europe, Prague has become a popular weekend city destination allowing tourists to visit its many museums and cultural sites as well as try its famous Czech beers and hearty cuisine. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Prague is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events. There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. Prague hosts Music Festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival and the Prague International Organ Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Prague also hosts the Prague Writers Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival as well as hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.
Prague Castle, picture taken by Stefan Bauer
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
Prague Castle is a castle in Prague where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. It is also the largest castle in the world. The Czech Crown Jewels are kept here. The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. The Prague Castle includes gothic St Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists. Nowadays, the castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle.
Old Town (Staré Město)
Old Town is the original place of settlement of Prague, Czech Republic. It was separated from the outside by a semi-circular moat and wall, connected to the river Vltava at both of its ends. Notable places in the Old Town include the Old New Synagogue and the Old Town Square or Astronomical Clock. Across the river Vltava is the Lesser Quarter, called Malá Strana in Czech. These two parts of the town are connected by the Charles Bridge.
Old Town Square, picture taken by Svein-Magne Tunli
Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague
The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague houses a rich collection of decorative and applied arts and design work ranging from Late Antiquity to the present day, with focus on European objects, particularly arts and crafts created in the Bohemian Lands. The impressive interior of the permanent exhibition “Stories of Materials” offers visitors an excursion into the history and development of decorative arts: glass and ceramics, graphic art and design, objects made in metal, wood and other materials, jewellery, clocks and watches, textiles, fashion, toys and furniture.
The largest Czech library specializing in the arts and related fields is an integral part of the Museum. It holds 172,000 volumes, including authoritative art encyclopaedias, dictionaries of artists and comprehensive works on iconography, topography and heraldry.
Charles Bridge, picture taken by Hareco
Charles Bridge (Karlův most)
Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. 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. 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.
Prague Zoo is a zoo in Prague, Czech Republic. In 2008 Forbes Traveler Magazine listed Prague zoo among the world's best zoos. The zoo occupies 45 hectares (111 acres) and houses about 4,600 animals that represent 630 species from all around the world. Prague Zoological Garden has contributed significantly to saving the Przewalski horse. For many years it was the biggest breeder of the species in the world.
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