Prague is the sparkling gem of Central Europe, so well-preserved that it seems frozen in time. (And, in all honesty, it actually is for part of the year.) Prague history tells us that it is the only large European city that managed to escape bombardments during the World Wars. This is why it has an enchanting and sometimes almost creepy 14th-century appearance when you take a look around from the center of Old Town Square.
Travel to Prague to witness a culture vividly occupied with histories of professions, transformations of avant-garde artistic and musical movements, and, underneath all this, a deep devotion to everything Czech.
See The City of 100 Spires and discover Prague history
Take a look around and learn why Prague won the title of The City of 100 Spires by going up to one of the several bird’s eye views of the Gothic skyline of the region. From the Old Town Square, cross the famous (and miraculously still standing) 600-year-old Charles Bridge (Karluv Most), then walk uphill past a number of interesting antique shops until you reach the beautiful 1,100-year-old Prague Castle area, the highest point of the town fortified by medieval walls and gargoyles.
The large Prague castle grounds where Czech nobles once spent their days have been the headquarters of the Czech Government since the 9th century. They are also home to a number of museums and a magnificent cathedral. A visit to these will help you understand Prague history better.
North of the city center, you’ll find a colossal series of stairs that go up an overgrown hillside. The very top is crowned by a gigantic swinging metronome in the former site of a massive statue of Stalin that once looked out over the Czechs below. Nowadays, joggers, skaters, picnickers, and bikers enjoy spending their time on the vast acres of Letná Park that spreads beyond.
To the southwest, Petřín Hill is a network of hiking trails with stunning sights of the magical city, especially if caught at night. The Petřín Lookout Tower, crowning the slope, is a copy of the Eiffel Tower, designed for the Prague exhibition in 1891.
An expression of repression
The strong character and deep Prague history have influenced many politically progressive personalities and socially radical movements. Existentialism has come to a vibrant life in this Czech region, along with two of its most popular writers:
- Franz Kafka created his famed Metamorphosis in the town he called home, and a remarkable monument was raised to his memory near the Spanish Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.
- A walk through Wenceslas Square is the haunting of Milan Kundera‘s works, particularly during one of the many thrilling festivals held here that had previously been banned under Soviet rule.
Prague history fun facts
– Wenceslas Square even turned into an enormous oval track for the summer cycling race!
– Read about the Prague Spring and the Second Defenestration of Prague on Lonely Planet.
Music once again flourished through the veins of the Czech Republic since 1989. Prague’s National Theater is home to the prestigious philharmonic and opera, with performances scheduled on a regular basis throughout the year.
From the seat of the King of Bohemia and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire to a Cold War lockdown and a modern-day survival story, Prague history shows us that the Slavic people of the Vltava River Basin have maintained their artful and conventional way of life since they settled here in the 5th century.
For a city that has been under strict Soviet control for 40 years, the timeless Gothic and Romanesque facades, combined with a string of cubist and modernist architecture, seem to speak for the unbending will of the Czech people, painting a vivid picture of Prague history at every step.
Only a trip to Prague will show the steady beating heart of this thrilling city! But I hope my brief history of Prague helps a bit as you walk on the streets of the present-day city. Hop on the Prague metro and go discover Czech history at its best!
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe, creator of unique free travel guides, local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
Other travel articles you should read for your Prague travel planning
Top 12 Prague things to do & see
Why you must travel to Czech Republic
Europe on a budget: Top 10 travel destinations