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Usually Prague is called golden and hundred towers, but it is sure, that it belongs between the most beautiful cities in the world. The charming river Vltava, which involves its beauty, wreathes resembled to a silver string. There are reflected city dominants, towers, cathedral dome, palace and housies,grenness of gardens and islands. Many bridges form the old city complex, which is situated on both sides of the river. It is compared with Rome because of its place on tops and in a river fold. The city makes a perfect unity with its river, which is spilt to an impressive area on the Old city weir between the Old city and the Little side..
One of the oldest sources mentioning Prague is the travel story written about the year 950 by Arab merchant Ibrahim ibn Jacob in which he describes Prague as a town on the river Vltava built of stone and mortar.
According to archeological findings the oldest settlement of Prague basin dates back to primaeval times. Since then the settlement steadily grew denser, and around the 6th century Slavonic tribes came to live there and settled near the placeswhere today we find the Lesser Town and Hradcany.
Towards the end of the 9th century a castle was built on Hradcany headland by Prince Borivoj of the House of Premysl, and fortified in the 10th century. Already standing inside the walls were St. Vitus‘ Rotunda with the bishop’s palace, the prince’s palace, St. George’s monastery church and a number of other buldings.
In the mid-10th century originated the other Prague castle – Vysehrad, which in the course of the following century became the seat of rulers, due to disagreements among the members of the ruling House of Premysl. Dating from that period are St. Peter and Paul’s Church, St. Lawrence’s Church, and St. Martin’s Rotunda – this one preserved until today in its original form. In the early 12th century the seat of Czech rulers was transferred back to Prague Castle, largely reconstructed at that period. In the mid-13th century the second Czech king Vladislav I had other significant constructions built – the Johannite Convent, the stone Judith’s Bridge – the predecessor of the stone Charles Bridge standing till these days, the Strahov Monastery, and the bishop’s court where the Lesser Town is today. Between 1253 – 1278 Prague was the seat of one of the most powerful rulers of Europe – Premysl Otakar II.
When the House of Premysl died out and the House of Luxemburg came into power, Prague became the most attractively built town in Europe under the Czech king and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Charles IV. It was larger at that time then, e.g., Paris or London. Charles started to make Prague the imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus a number of new institutions came into existence, e.g., Charles University, a new quarter New Town of Prague was founded, its building ideas going far beyond the architecture of the time, given, for instance, the width of its streets 19 – 23 m which suits even the needs of motoring of the present days. Vysehrad was rebuilt into a large Gothic fortress. Charles‘ building activities reached its peak under the supervision of the world-known architect Peter Parler who built a new stone bridge later named Charles Bridge, the Old Town Bridge Tower, and began the construction of St. Vitus‘ Cathedral in Prague Castle. The whole boundary of the New Town, the Lesser Town, Hradcany, and Vysehrad was fortified by new Gothic walls securing safety for its inhabitants.
After the demise of Charles IV in 1378 and during the reign of his son Vaclav IV Prague suffered through one of the hardest periods of its history – Hussite revolutionary movement. In this period of religous disagreements the whole of Bohemia was defying the rest of the Catholic world, there were incessant fights in our territory for almost 30 years, Czech Hussites fought off assaults of several crusades. For the Czechs this period meant on the one hand great religious revival, but on the other hand they lost great artistic values while Church institutions were plundered.
The Renaissance period brought to Prague significant developments under the rule of Rudolf II of the House of Hapsburg, who patronized arts and science, including alchemy and astrology. That was the time when the most famous researchers of Europe, as astronomers Johannes Kepler or Tycho de Brahe, or world-known alchemist Mater Kelly worked in Prague. It was a period of the atmosphere of liberation owing to the prevailing religious freedom.
Another significant milestone in the history of Prague and the whole country was the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 – the beginning of the Thirty Years War, destructive for the entire Europe. It launched the hard period of recatholization lasting almost 300 years, and Bohemia was finally integrated into Austria – later Austria-Hungary.
Prague was flourishing again in the Baroque period which left here a great number of baroque churches, palaces, and burgher houses. The baroque buildings in Prague are much appreciated by visitors as well as by professionals.
In 1918 the independent Czech Republic was born, and Prague and its Castle became again the seat of the Head of the state – the President.
In the course of its development, dramatic at times, Prague grew into one of the most fascinating and admirable cities in Europe.