As residents, we have witnessed enormous changes since the fall of communism in 1989. In particular, the center of Prague has been transformed with literally thousands of thriving new restaurants, bars, shops, and boutique businesses that were unthinkable 22 years ago. This is largely due to you - the visitor. And while your patronage has changed the landscape of this city; its spirit lives on, untouched by politics and commercialism, in places like Charles Bridge at 5 AM in the morning, or on top of Petrin hill at dusk. The city is truly magical and we hope you will see it the way we do. Our Customers often ask us for advice regarding things to do and see in Prague. There is a lot to do out there but not all of it is of the same quality. While we can't name everything we love, we thought we would pass along our short list of things to do and places to see. We think the organizations we have listed here provide an outstanding product or service. We hope the information here will save you time planning your trip so you can spend more time enjoying Prague.
Trams are probably the most common way of getting around for the tourist. They run frequently and go just about every place that you might want to go. You must buy your ticket before you get on. There are vending machines in every Metro station or you can buy them at most Tobacco shops (TABAK) or News Stands (TRAFIKA). You MUST stamp your ticket in one of the automated stamp machines in the trolley. If a control guard asks to see your validated ticket and you haven’t stamped it or don’t have one the fine can be as high as 1200 CZK.
There are two trams you should try to take; trams No. 22 and 23. You can catch them both at the National Theater. Their routes pass by Charles Bridge, run through the romantic Lesser Quarter, and then on up to Prague Castle with stunning views the whole way. A note of caution though: since these trams are very popular with tourists, they are frequently worked by pick pockets, so watch your personal belongings carefully, and stow your wallet and other valuables in a safe spot.
Where to Exchange your moneyWhen exchanging money, its always a crap shoot to find the best deal. We suggest sticking with an ATM but if you have cash, then Exchange CZ is your safest bet. You can find them just off of Old Town Square about a 5 minute walk from the Astronomical Clock. They have the best rates in town and will NOT rip you off.
Prague’s center is safe. There is practically no violence to speak of. But it is an urban center, and like all big cities, it is prudent to keep your eyes and ears open. For example, several streets off Wenceslav Square and Žitná Street in New Town are home to a lot of night clubs and bars. This area is a popular destination of stag parties from out of town and therefore attract local drug dealers, prostitutes, and pick pockets. Use caution and we would not suggest catching a taxi in these neighborhoods – they will rip you off.
Land and People
The Czech Republic comprises the former provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia, together often called the Czech Lands. In the western part of the republic lies the Bohemian plateau, which is separated by the Bohemian-Moravian heights from the fertile Moravian lowland in the eastern part of the republic. The Sudetes Mts. in the north separate Moravia from Czech Silesia along the Polish border. Agriculture is concentrated in the Moravian lowlands and in the valleys of the Elbe and Vltava rivers.
More than 90% of the people are Czech, with small minorities of Slovaks, Germans, Poles, Gypsies, and Hungarians; the Gypsies have been subjected to increased discrimination since the fall of Communist rule. Although many Czechs do not profess a religion, more than 25% are Roman Catholic. There is also a substantial Hussite minority and a smaller group belonging to the Orthodox Church. Czech is spoken by most people; Slovak is also spoken.
Probably about the 5th century A.D. , Slavic tribes from the Vistula basin settled in the region of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. The Czechs founded the kingdom of Bohemia and the Premyslide dynasty, which ruled Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th to the 16th century. One of the Bohemian kings, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, made Prague an imperial capital and a center of Latin scholarship. The Hussite movement founded by Jan Hus (1369?–1415) linked the Slavs to the Reformation and revived Czech nationalism, previously under German domination. A Habsburg, Ferdinand I, ascended the throne in 1526. The Czechs rebelled in 1618, precipitating the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648). Defeated in 1620, they were ruled for the next 300 years as part of the Austrian empire. Full independence from the Hapsburgs was not achieved until the end of World War I, following the collapse of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
A union of the Czech lands and Slovakia was proclaimed in Prague on Nov. 14, 1918, and the Czech nation became one of the two component parts of the newly formed Czechoslovakian state. In March 1939, German troops occupied Czechoslovakia, and Czech Bohemia and Moravia became German protectorates for the duration of World War II. The former government returned in April 1945 when the war ended and the country's pre-1938 boundaries were restored. When elections were held in 1946, Communists became the dominant political party and gained control of the Czechoslovakian government in 1948. Thereafter, the former democracy was turned into a Soviet-style state.
Nearly 42 years of Communist rule ended with the nearly bloodless “velvet revolution” in 1989. Václav Havel, a leading playwright and dissident, was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1989. Havel, imprisoned twice by the Communist regime and his plays banned, became an international symbol for human rights, democracy, and peaceful dissent. The return of democratic political reform saw a strong Slovak nationalist movement emerge by the end of 1991, which sought independence for Slovakia. When the general elections of June 1992 failed to resolve the continuing coexistence of the two republics within the federation, Czech and Slovak political leaders agreed to separate their states into two fully independent nations. On Jan. 1, 1993, the Czechoslovakian federation was dissolved and two separate independent countries were established—the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic joined NATO in March 1999.
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