|The Czech Republic lies at the heart of
Central Europe and at its centre is the beautiful and historic city of
Prague. With a population of some 1.3 million residents, the city lies on
either side of the Vltava River in the middle of Bohemia which is one of
the three historic Czech territories - the others being Moravia and
Silesia. The city has seven 'Chapter Divisions' or districts.
North and Western Suburbs
This is mainly an area of residential buildings and parkland, containing Prague's largest park - Stromovka. The park was originally a hunting ground and is now home to many attractions including the Vystaviste Exhibition Grounds, the Prumyslovy Palace, the Planetarium, the Lapidarium and 'Detsky Svet' a large funfair.
A walk to the west of the park, brings the visitor to the Summer Palace - a neo-Gothic building (begun in 1805) where the National Museum stores some of its treasures.
To the south of Stromovka lies the Letna parkland. A walk south brings one to a plateau overlooking the main city and river. Here you will see a large metronome which replaced the monument to Stalin - the largest in the world which was destroyed on the orders of Krushchev in 1962. Other places of interest are the Technical Museum and Museum of Modern Art, whilst walks through the residential areas will expose you to many styles of architecture.
Situated on the hill overlooking Prague, Hradcany is made up of Prague Castle, St Vitus' Cathedral and the Strahov Monastery ' places which are all steeped in history. The Museum of Military History, the Royal Gardens and the Toy Museum are also nearby.
St Vitus' Cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV (1316-1378) and its foundation was laid in 1344. However, work on it went on for 600 years before being finalised in 1929, meaning the architecture is from many different periods and in different styles. Attractions inside include the Crown Jewels, the crypt and the South Tower. The Strahov Monastery was founded in 1140 by the Premonstratensian Order although its present day baroque appearance dates from the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Covering the area just below Hradcany and bordering the river, Mala Strana is just across Charles Bridge from the main city. Now home to many foreign embassies occupying a number of buildings built by the Catholic nobility, the area is full of palaces, gardens and baroque churches, including the Church of St Nicholas (Sv Mikulas). Open daily, this is an example of Prague baroque architecture - it was built between 1702 and 1753 by Christoph Dientzenhofer and later also by his son. Frequent concerts and recitals (both at lunchtime and in the evenings) are held here, featuring the works of Mozart.
Other buildings of interest include the Czech National Assembly, the Lichtenstein Palace, the Smiricky Palace and Petrin Hill to the west.
Prague's Jewish Quarter can be reached by a short walk from Wenceslas Square or by taking the metro to Staromestska, Line A.
Dating back to at least the thirteenth century, the area is rich in history. Places to visit include the Jewish Cemetery, its five synagogoues, the Jewish State Museum and the Jewish Town Hall with its Hebrew clock dating from the fifteenth century. The narrow cobbled streets lend the area a unique atmosphere, especially at night. The Kafka Museum is located on the border of Josefov and Stare Mesto.
Prague's Old Town is centred around Old Town Square, the Huss monument and the Old Town clocktower featuring its astronomical clock dating back to the fifteenth century. The Old Town Hall is open daily. It is only a short walk away from Wenceslas Square.
There are several churches here including the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn, as well as courtyards and numerous cafés, bars and restaurants catering for every taste.
This is Prague's main commercial and business district. It is based around Wenceslas Square at the top of which is the National Museum and the two main commercial streets - Na Prikope and Narodni. Running from these streets are many smaller streets and courtyards - some of which are being transformed into modern shopping malls - and hotels, bars and restaurants abound.
Walking along Legerova or Ke Karlovu (where you will find the Dvorak Museum) will bring you to the Police Museum from where you could take a walk along the top of the Botic Valley towards the river.
Vysehrad and the Eastern Suburbs
Centred upon the ancient rocky fortress of Vysehrad (the Republic's most revered landmark) and containing the Vysehrad Cemetery, a Romanesque rotunda and the Gothic church of St Peter and Paul, this area stretches to the working class suburbs of Zizkov. It is home to the TV Tower (from which you can enjoy panoramic views of Prague) and the ancient Zizkov Hill atop which stands a statue of Jan Zizka (a fifteenth-century army general) and the mausoleum in which the remains of the three Communist presidents of the Republic and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier can be found. The suburb of Vinohrady contains Prague's most modern church - the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord - which was built in 1928.