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17 Prague Prague is the capital of the Czech republic and lies in the middle of Bohemia. It cover an area of nearly 500sq km and its population is about 1,200,000. Prague is divided into many boroughs. Thehistorical centre is made up by theOld Town, Josefov, the Lesser Quarter, Hradčany, the New Town and Vyšehrad. Together they make a town preserve which is quite unique. On the other hand Prague is now surrounded by a ring of modern housing estates serving as residential quarters. A legend connects the founding of Prague with Princess Libuše of the Přemysl dynasty who prophesised the future glory of Prague, which would “touch the stars”. The oldest settlements of this region dates 25,000 years ago. In the latter half of the 10th century St. Vitus Rotunda, the Prince’s Palace and convert with a church were built on Hradčany. Prague’s other castle – Vyšehrad – was built in the 11th century and for some time it was the seat of Czech rulers. Prague became the imperial residence of Charles IV (1346-1378). During reign of Charles IV there was founded archbishopric (1344), Charles University (1348), the New Town with the Horse Market ( now Wenceslas Square ), the Cattle Market ( now Charles Square ) in Prague. Charles IV promoted the construction of other important buildings such as St. Vitus Cathedral and the Charles Bridge. In 1918 Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia. Prague is the seat of our President, Czech government, all important state ministries and the Czech Parliament. Prague is also an important industrial and business centre and transport crossroad. It is the industrial centre of engineering, food-industries, ready-made garment, chemical, polygraphic industries and tourism. It is also a cultural centre of the republic and can offer many outstanding theatrical and musical performances ( e.g. the Prague Spring International Music Festival in May-June each year). We can find here the best theatres, galleries and museums such as: The National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square. The National Gallery which is spread out in various Prague spots: Gothic art in St. George Church at the Prague Castle, Czech 19th century art in St. Agnes Monastery, sculpture collection in Zbraslav. The National Theatre, built in late renaissance style from the public money collection of the people in the second half of the19th century. Before its ceremonial opening in 1881 it was severely damaged by fire and was rebuilt within the next two years. The best artists of the 19th century decorated the theatre ( M.Aleš, F.Ženíšek, V.Hynais ). Other important places of culture include the Smetana Theatre, the Palace of Culture, the Magic Latern, the Lucerna Hall, the Tyl Theatre, The Vinohrady Thearte, the Semafor, the Viola, the Činoherní klub, Divadlo na zábradlí and many new clubs for young people and young art e.g. Bunkr, Rock Café etc. Many world known personalities lived or spent some time in Prague, e.g. Mozart, Beethoven, Einstein etc. And many famous personalities visited Prague such as the Pope, George Busch Queen Elizabeth II. etc. Prague is also important centre of sports. There are many stadiums, parks ( Letná, Stromovka, Kampa, Petřín) and swimming pools. The biggest stadium is Strahov which was built by communists. In Prague there are many sports clubs. The majority of Czech universities, colleges and student residences is in Prague. The most visited tourist sights include: The Prague Castle: It was founded 880 A.D. by the first Přemysl prince Bořivoj. Its greatest period was during the reign of Charles IV. In 1344 the construction of the ST. Vitus Cathedral started. In the time of Rudolf II the castel became a famous centre of science, arts and culture. Famous sights in Prague Castle include: St.Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace with Vladislav Hall, Spanish Hall, the Golden Lane ( a legend connects it with Rudolf II’s alchemists). The Prague Castle is surrounded by the Strahov Monastery and Petřín hill with its famous watchtower. Old Town Square – portions of Old Town Hall were hit by bombs in May 1945. The Astronomical Clock strikes every 60 minutes and is controlled by a very complicated mechanism built in Middle Ages. In the upper part of the horologe a procession of the Apostles can be seen every hour. The horologe is decorated by 12 outler medallions representing the course of village life, painted by famous Czech painter J.Mánes. There are also 12 signs of the Zodiac. On the Old Town Square there is the monument of Master John Huss. Worthy of attention in the square the gothic church of , a gothic tower house called At the Stone Bell and baroque St Nicholas Church designed by K.I.Dienzenhofer. Vyšehrad – formerly one of the Prague’s towns and originally the castle of the Přemysl in the latter half of the 11th century and first half of the 12th century. Nowdays we can visit the National Cemetery here with graves of outstanding Czech personalities in cultural sphere, scientists and politics. The original Romanesque Church of Saints Peter and Paul now has a neo-gothic appearance. The Charles Bridge – commissioned by Charles IV in 1357 and built by famous Gothic architect Petr Parléř. On both ends of the bridge there are Gothic Bridge Towers. It is the second oldest stone bridge in Central Europe. It is 520 m long and 10 m wide. In the 18th century the bridge began decorated by baroque statues by Matyáš Braun and Jan Brokoff. The bridge gradually became one of the lively centres of Prague life. During summer it is always full of tourists, souvenir stalls and street artists. The Powder Tower – a monument of the Czech late gothic period, stands at the end of Prague’s new pedestrian zone called King’s Road. The Carolinum - the oldest building of Charles University founded on 4th April 1348 as the first institution of this kind in Central Europe. The Clementinum – the second largest building in Prague ( after Prague Castle ), was built at the 17th century. Now it serves as the largest branc

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