What is prague

Prague

Legendary foundation

The Prague basin was inhabited as early as the Neolithic Age. Princess Libussa and her husband Přemysl, according to legend, the ancestors of the Bohemian royal house of the Přemyslids, are said to have founded the city of Prague. However, this is not historically proven.

The official date of the city's foundation is considered to be 870, when the foundation stone for Prague Castle was laid. The castle was the seat of Bohemian rulers and has been preserved to this day - albeit with a face that has often been transformed over the centuries - as the largest closed castle area in the world.

Prague gained special importance in the 14th century, when Charles IV, in personal union the Bohemian King and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, declared Prague the imperial capital and representative imperial seat.

The Bohemian metropolis had another heyday under Rudolf II, also Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He made Prague the center of political, social and cultural life in Central Europe in the 16th and early 17th centuries.

From the 10th century there was also a Jewish community in Prague. Despite many restrictions, the Prague ghetto was for a long time the largest and most famous center of Jewish life in Europe.

In 1939 Czechoslovakia was occupied by the German Wehrmacht, and a little later Adolf Hitler had the "Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia" established. Almost the entire Jewish population was deported; only a few survived.

Golden city attracts tourists

The name "Prague" is probably derived from the high thresholds (Czech "praha") in the Vltava River, which runs through the city.

There are several explanations for why Prague is called the "Golden City": On the one hand, Emperor Charles IV had the towers of Prague Castle gilded. On the other hand, Rudolf II supported several alchemists in their search for gold.

The name "Prague with one hundred spiers" has also been known for several centuries. There are now around 500 towers and observation towers from different eras in the city.

But that's not the only reason why many millions of tourists travel to the metropolis every year: Romanesque rotundas, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque and Renaissance palaces: In Prague there are historical buildings from the most varied of architectural styles.

In 1992, Unesco declared the historic core of Prague a World Heritage Site. The area includes the Hradschin mountain with Prague Castle, the Lesser Town district, the old town including Charles Bridge and Josefstadt as well as the New Town. In 2000, Prague was the European Capital of Culture.

Black theater and writers

In addition to its architectural treasures, Prague also has a lively cultural life. For example with the so-called "Black Theater": Actors dressed in black act on a stage designed in black. The actors cannot be seen like this for the audience; however, when they carry or move objects, they seem to come to life.

The theater maker Jiří Srnec brought the illusion technique, which originated from China, to Prague in the 1960s; from there it conquered the stages of international festivals. In the decades that followed, several theaters in the metropolis picked up the technology and developed it further.

The Prague coffee houses, a lively meeting place for writers and other intellectuals at the beginning of the 20th century, are now predominantly populated by tourists.

Here, visitors walk in the footsteps of authors such as Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hašek or Egon Erwin Kisch, who were all born in Prague in the 1880s and who repeatedly addressed their hometown in their literary work.

Reforms, refugees and revolution

In recent political history, Prague has repeatedly been the scene of far-reaching developments connected with the upheaval in the former Eastern Bloc countries.

The reform efforts of the Communist Party under Alexander Dubček in 1968 are known as the "Prague Spring". Dubček believed in "socialism with a human face" and wanted to implement it in his country. However, the reforms came to an abrupt end on August 21, 1968 with the invasion of troops from the Soviet Union and four other Warsaw Pact states.

The events surrounding the Prague embassy, ​​which began in the summer of 1989, had a very lasting effect on German-German history. From August onwards, more and more GDR citizens wishing to leave the country sought refuge in the embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

At first the people came in small groups; by the end of September there were thousands. They slept in tents and even on the stairs of the embassy building, supplies were difficult, and long queues formed in front of the toilets.

The then Foreign Minister Genscher succeeded in negotiating the departure of the refugees in Moscow at the end of September. Spurred on by this success, there was a second wave of refugees.

On November 3, the GDR made it possible for GDR citizens to leave the country directly via Prague to the Federal Republic of Germany; in the days that followed, several thousand people left the country every day. As a result, the GDR leadership finally opened the inner-German border on November 9, 1989, which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall that same evening.

In mid-November the so-called "Velvet Revolution" began in Czechoslovakia with mass demonstrations and a civil rights movement. She succeeded in replacing the communist leadership within a short time. Alexander Dubček, the 1968 reformer, became chairman of parliament, and writer Václav Havel became president.