The country’s top tourist destination seat of the kings of Bohemia and later of Czechoslovak and Czech presidents.Developed from a settlement around Prague Castle (founded in the second half of the 9th century), described in the journal of Abraham ben Jacob,a Jewish-Arab travelling merchant,as early as in 965.Originally divided into several autonomous “towns”: Old Town (known already before 1280 as Caput Regni- Capital of the Kingdom,) Lessor Quarter, New Town and Hradcany.A dominant feature of the Prague skyline is Saint Vitus Cathedral on the grounds of Prague Castle, the last resting place of Saint Wenceslas and other Bohemian rulers and the repository of Bohemain crown jewels (www.hrad.cz).The most popular sight is the Charles Bridge (its foundation stone was laid on July 9, 1357 at 5:31 a.m., an auspiciuos moment chosen by astrologers).The Old Town Hall with its much-admired astronomical clock is located on the Old Town Square, the original central marketplace.The main city square is the Wenceslas Square with its well-known landmark – the equestrian statue of Saint Wenceslas.Prague’s historical centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992.Other sights include the Jan Zizka monument on Vitkov Hill (one of Europe’s largest equestrian statues); the Petrin Lookout Tower on the Petrin Hill.(a steel structure resembling the Paris Eiffel Tower, accessible by a funicular); the Municipal House (a beautifully renovated Art Nouveau building where the independence of Czechoslovkia was declared in 1918, today serving as a multifunctional venue with a concert hall, gallery,cafe, restaurant and lounges -www.obecnudum.cz); the Old Town’s Jewish cemetry and synagogue associated with the legend of Rabbi Loew and his Golem (www.jewishmuseum.cz); the National Museum (the country’s largest museum, located on Wenceslas Square – www.nm.cz); and the National Technical Museum (very popular museum with some unique collections – www.ntm.cz).Prague is home to Charles University (a symbol of Czech learning, the third oldest well-ranked schools in Europe founded in 1348 – www.cuni.cz) and to several other well-ranked schools offering university education in technical fields (www.cvut.cz), the arts (www.amu.cz,) (www.amu.cz, www.avu.cz), economics (www.vse.cz) and agriculture (www.czu.cz) Major art galleries include the National Gallery (www.ngprague.cz) and Prague Castle Gallery (www.hrad.cz), the Czech Museum of Fine Arts (www.cmvu.cz) and the Rudolfinum Gallery (www.narodni-divadlo.cz), Prague has many interesting vemues for performing arts,for example the Archa Theatre (www.archatheatre.cz).Prague’s rich offer of music events ranges from classical (www.rudolfinum.cz, www.obecnidum.cz) and jazz (www.aghart.cz) music to independent and club music (Palac Akropolis, www.palacakropolis.cz) and the experimental scene (Roxy, www.roxy.cz).
National cultural monument, symbol of the country’s long history.Continuosly evoling since its foundation in the last quarter of the 9th century, the vast compound includes palaces, fortifications, administrative, ecclesiastical and residential buildings representing all architectural styles.Prague Castle has three courtyards and an overall area of 45 hectares.Originally the home of Bohemian princes and kings, it has been the country’s presidential seat since 1918.
Saint Vitus Cathedral and the Bohemian Crown Jewels
The Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral dominates the Prague Castle compound.Founded in 1344, initally designed and built by master builders Matthias of Arras and Peter Parler.Left half-finised for several centuries, completed in 1929.Visitors can admire rare architectural ornametation and works of art; notable sights include the tombs of Bohemian kings and the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas with and underground chamber where the Bohemian Crown Jewels are held.The Crown Jewels, including the Saint Wenceslas crown commissioned by Charles IV, the royal sceptre and apple, coronation vestments and other items, are very rarely exhibited to the public and never leave the Prague Castle compund.
The most important work by the architect Adolf Loos (1970-1933) in the country, a jewel of the 20th century Functionalism.The villa was built between 1928 and 1930 for the family of Frantisek Muller,co-owner of a Prague construction company.Its airy and open interior layout is in keeping with the “Raumplan” idea that Loos introduced into architectural practice.Loos turned radically away from Art Nouveau and ornamental decor (“Ornament and Crime” eassay) to take full advantage of the natural structures of high-quality stone, wood and other luxury materials.Thoroghly renovated in 1998-200, the villa now houses the Adolf Loos Stude Centre.