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Prague

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Prague P. is the capital of the Czech Republic, the seat of the President, Government and Parliament, and tbe political, cultural and economic centre of the country. It spreads out on both banks of the Vltava in the centre or Bohemia. It has 1.2 million inhabitants. The historical centre is made up bytheOld Town, the Lesser Quarter (Town), Josefov, the NewTown, Hradčany and Vyšehrad. Together they make a unique town preserve. The historical centre is surrounded by a ring of new housing estates. A legend connects the foundation of P. with Princess Libuše who prophesied the future glory of P. which "would touch the stars'". In the 9th century P. became the seat of princes of the Přemyslid dynasty and a castle above the Vltava and later another castle Vyšehrad were built. P. flourished and grew during the reign ofCharles IV. He established the Prague Archbishopric, founded Charles University and the New Town, and promoted the construction or Charles Bridge and St Vitus Cathedral. P. has been a witness of all important historical events and many places reminds its visitors of them. The Prague Castle,the seat of the President, dominates the city. The monumental complex includes three courtyards and over 700 rooms among whichthe GothicVladislav Hall, where the election of the President takes place, is the most renowned. The most impressive building at the Castle isSt Vitus Cathedral. It was completed in 1929, a thousand years after the foundation of the first church on this site. The present cathedral is the result or the work of two famous architects, .Mathias of Arras and Petr Parléř. The most admired parts of the Cathedral areSt Wenceslas Chapel with the coronation chamber, where the coronation jewels are kept, andthe Royal Crypt with sarcophaguses of Czech kings and queens. The Basilica of St George is the best preserved relic of Romanesque architecture in Bohemia. Inthe castle gardenswe can admiretheRenaissanceRoyal Summer Palace Belvedere, andthe Singing Fountain in front or it. Golden Lane made up of tiny houses with coloured facades originated in the 16th century ( during thc reign of Rudolph II ) when craftsmen settled there. Today you can buy there beautiful souvenirs or see various exhibitions. Not far from the Castle in Loretánské Square you can admirethe BaroqueLorettocomplex with a carillon and the Loretto treasure . On Petřin Hill the Petřín Observation Tower can be found. From there you can have a magnificent view of Prague and its environs. Below Petřínthe Strahov Monastery with the Museum of Czech Literature is located. AlongNerudova Street you get from the Castle to the Lesser Town. It' s a poetic quarter with ancient houses and palaces and romantic gardens. The jewel of Baroque architecture isSt Nicholas Church. From there we can easily get toCharles Bridge, a favourite place for walks and tourist attractions. It´s 520 metres long and is decorated with 30 Baroque sculptures. Along Charles Street we can get tothe Old Town Square, the centre of the Old Town. The best known building there isthe Old Town Hall. Every hour crowds of tourists watchthe horologe ( astronomical clock ) decorated by Josef Mánes and the procession of the Apostles. Other sights of the square arethe John Huss Monument,the Týn Church etc. Not far from the square there isthe Bethlehem Chapel, where John Huss preached. From the Old Town SquareParis Street, lined with fine houses and shops, takes us tothe JewishTown with severalsynagogues andthe Old Jewish Cemetery. Celetná Street leads tothe Powder Tower which forms a monumental entrance to the Old Town. Close to it there isthe Municipal House, rebuilt in the late 19th century decorative style ( Art Nouveau ), where concerts and balls are held. The heart of the New Town isWenceslas Square, 750 metres long, lined with banks, department stores, hotels, boutiques, cafés and cinemas. The upper end of the square is closed by the Neo-Renaissance building ofthe National Museum which contains historical and natural history collections. Not far from it there isthe St. Wenceslas Memorial, the bronze statue of the Czech patron made by J V. Myslbek. The National Theatre, the most beautiful Neo-Renaissance building, is situated on the bank of the Vltava. It was built from the public money collection of the people in the second half of the 19th century. Before its ceremonial opening in 1881 it was severely damaged by fire and rebuilt within the next two years. The best artists decorated the theatre (e.g. M. Aleš, V. Hynais, F. Ženíšek ). Vyšehradwas once the seat of Czech princes. Now only a few remains of the castle have been preserved on the rock. The oldest construction on Vyšehrad and in the whole of Prague istheRomanesqueRotunda of St. Martin, built in the 11th century. There is alsothe Slavín Cemetery, the burial place of famous personalities of our cultural and political life. But Prague is not only a historical city. It has many industries and is an important transport junction.

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