Prague (//; Czech: Praha [ˈpraɦa] ( listen), German: Prag) is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and also the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.
Prague has been a political, cultural and economic centre of central Europe complete with a rich history. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras, Prague was the capital of the kingdom of Bohemia and the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, most notably of Charles IV (r. 1346–1378). It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. The city played major roles in the Bohemian and Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War and in 20th-century history as the capital of Czechoslovakia, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of 20th-century Europe. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The city has more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas and other historical exhibits. An extensive modern public transportation system connects the city. Also, it is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including Charles University in Prague, the oldest university in Central Europe.
Prague is classified as a "Beta+" global city according to GaWC studies and ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination and as of 2014, the city receives more than 6.4 million international visitors annually. Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome.
During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the capital of a modern European country, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.
The region was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. Around the fifth and fourth century BC, the Celts appeared in the area, later establishing settlements including an oppidum in Závist, a present-day suburb of Prague, and giving name to the region of Bohemia, "home of the Boii". In the last century BC, the Celts were slowly driven away by Germanic tribes (Marcomanni, Quadi, Lombards and possibly the Suebi), leading some to place the seat of the Marcomanni king Maroboduus on the southern Prague's site Závist. Around the area where present-day Prague stands, the 2nd century map of Ptolemaios mentioned a Germanic city called Casurgis.
In the late 5th century AD, during the great Migration Period following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes living in Bohemia moved westwards and, probably in the 6th century, the Slavic tribes (Venedi) settled Central Bohemian Region. In the following two centuries, the Czech tribes built several fortified settlements in the area, most notably in the Šárka valley, Butovice and later in Levý Hradec.
The construction of what came to be known as the Prague Castle began near the end of the 9th century, with a fortified settlement already existing on the site in the year 800. The first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885 at the latest. The other prominent Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad, was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years later than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which was founded in 1344, but completed in the 20th century.
The legendary origins of Prague attribute its foundation to the 8th century Czech duchess and prophetess Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." She ordered a castle and a town called Praha to be built on the site.
The region became the seat of the dukes, and later kings of Bohemia. Under Roman Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973. Until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz.
Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Hispano-Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub. The Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands. Prague contained an important slave market.
At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus I had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge (Juditin most), named in honour of his wife Judith of Thuringia. This bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342. Some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain.
In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana ("Lesser Quarter") was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany (Prague Castle) area. This was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights. The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město ("Old Town"), which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications.
Prague flourished during the 14th-century reign (1346–1378) of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the king of Bohemia of the new Luxembourg dynasty. As King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, he transformed Prague into an imperial capital and it was at that time the third-largest city in Europe (after Rome and Constantinople).
He ordered the building of the New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to the Old Town and laid out the design himself. The Charles Bridge, replacing the Judith Bridge destroyed in the flood just prior to his reign, was erected to connect the east bank districts to the Malá Strana and castle area. On 9 July 1357 at 5:31 am, Charles IV personally laid the first foundation stone for the Charles Bridge. The exact time of laying the first foundation stone is known because the palindromic number 135797531 was carved into the Old Town bridge tower having been chosen by the royal astrologists and numerologists as the best time for starting the bridge construction. In 1347, he founded Charles University, which remains the oldest university in Central Europe.
He began construction of the Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral, within the largest of the Prague Castle courtyards, on the site of the Romanesque rotunda there. Prague was elevated to an archbishopric in 1344, the year the cathedral was begun.
The city had a mint and was a centre of trade for German and Italian bankers and merchants. The social order, however, became more turbulent due to the rising power of the craftsmen's guilds (themselves often torn by internal fights), and the increasing number of poor people.
The Hunger Wall, a substantial fortification wall south of Malá Strana and the Castle area, was built during a famine in the 1360s. The work is reputed to have been ordered by Charles IV as a means of providing employment and food to the workers and their families.
Charles IV died in 1378. During the reign of his son, King Wenceslaus IV (1378–1419), a period of intense turmoil ensued. During Easter 1389, members of the Prague clergy announced that Jews had desecrated the host (Eucharistic wafer) and the clergy encouraged mobs to pillage, ransack and burn the Jewish quarter. Nearly the entire Jewish population of Prague (3,000 people) perished.
Jan Hus, a theologian and rector at the Charles University, preached in Prague. In 1402, he began giving sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel. Inspired by John Wycliffe, these sermons focused on what were seen as radical reforms of a corrupt Church. Having become too dangerous for the political and religious establishment, Hus was summoned to the Council of Constance, put on trial for heresy, and burned at the stake in Constanz in 1415.
Four years later Prague experienced its first defenestration, when the people rebelled under the command of the Prague priest Jan Želivský. Hus' death, coupled with Czech proto-nationalism and proto-Protestantism, had spurred the Hussite Wars. Peasant rebels, led by the general Jan Žižka, along with Hussite troops from Prague, defeated Emperor Sigismund, in the Battle of Vítkov Hill in 1420.
During the Hussite Wars when the City of Prague was attacked by "Crusader" and mercenary forces, the city militia fought bravely under the Prague Banner. This swallow-tailed banner is approximately 4 by 6 feet (1.2 by 1.8 metres), with a red field sprinkled with small white fleurs-de-lis, and a silver old Town Coat-of-Arms in the centre. The words "PÁN BŮH POMOC NAŠE" (The Lord is our Relief) appeared above the coat-of-arms, with a Hussite chalice centred on the top. Near the swallow-tails is a crescent shaped golden sun with rays protruding.
One of these banners was captured by Swedish troops in Battle of Prague (1648), when they captured the western bank of the Vltava river and were repulsed from the eastern bank, they placed it in the Royal Military Museum in Stockholm; although this flag still exists, it is in very poor condition. They also took the Codex Gigas and the Codex Argenteus. The earliest evidence indicates that a gonfalon with a municipal charge painted on it was used for Old Town as early as 1419. Since this city militia flag was in use before 1477 and during the Hussite Wars, it is the oldest still preserved municipal flag of Bohemia.
In 1526, the Bohemian estates elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg. The fervent Catholicism of its members was to bring them into conflict in Bohemia, and then in Prague, where Protestant ideas were gaining popularity. These problems were not pre-eminent under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, elected King of Bohemia in 1576, who chose Prague as his home. He lived in the Prague Castle, where his court welcomed not only astrologers and magicians but also scientists, musicians, and artists. Rudolf was an art lover too, and Prague became the capital of European culture. This was a prosperous period for the city: famous people living there in that age include the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, the poet Elizabeth Jane Weston, and others.
In 1618, the famous second defenestration of Prague provoked the Thirty Years' War, a particularly harsh period for Prague and Bohemia. Ferdinand II of Habsburg was deposed, and his place as King of Bohemia taken by Frederick V, Elector Palatine; however his army was crushed in the Battle of White Mountain (1620) not far from the city. Following this in 1621 was an execution of 27 Czech leaders (involved in the uprising) in Old Town Square and the exiling of many others. The city suffered subsequently during the war under Saxon (1631) and Battle of Prague (1648). Prague began a steady decline which reduced the population from the 60,000 it had had in the years before the war to 20,000. In the second half of the 17th century Prague's population began to grow again. Jews had been in Prague since the end of the 10th century and, by 1708, they accounted for about a quarter of Prague's population.
In 1689, a great fire devastated Prague, but this spurred a renovation and a rebuilding of the city. In 1713–14, a major outbreak of plague hit Prague one last time, killing 12,000 to 13,000 people.
In 1744 Frederick the Great of Prussia invaded Bohemia. He took Prague after a severe and prolonged siege in the course of which a large part of the town was destroyed. In 1757 the Prussian Prussian bombardment destroyed more than one quarter of the city and heavily damaged St. Vitus Cathedral. However a month later Frederick the Great was defeated and to retreat from Bohemia.
The economy of the city continued to improve during the 18th century. The population increased to 80,000 inhabitants by 1771. Many rich merchants and nobles enhanced the city with a host of palaces, churches and gardens full of art and music, creating a Baroque city renowned throughout the world to this day.
In 1784, under Joseph II, the four municipalities of Malá Strana, Nové Město, Staré Město, and Hradčany were merged into a single entity. The Jewish district, called Josefov, was included only in 1850. The Industrial Revolution had a strong effect in Prague, as factories could take advantage of the coal mines and ironworks of the nearby region. A first suburb, Karlín, was created in 1817, and twenty years later the population exceeded 100,000.
The revolutions in Europe in 1848 also touched Prague, but they were fiercely suppressed. In the following years the Czech National Revival began its rise, until it gained the majority in the town council in 1861. Prague had a German-speaking majority in 1848, but by 1880 the number of German speakers had decreased to 14% (42,000), and by 1910 to 6.7% (37,000), due to a massive increase of the city's overall population caused by the influx of Czechs from the rest of Bohemia and Moravia and also due to return of social status importance of the Czech language.
World War I ended with the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia. Prague was chosen as its capital and Prague Castle as the seat of president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. At this time Prague was a true European capital with highly developed industry. By 1930, the population had risen to 850,000.
Hitler ordered the German Army to enter Prague on 15 March 1939, and from Prague Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. For most of its history, Prague had been a multi-ethnic city with important Czech, German and (mostly native German-speaking) Jewish populations. From 1939, when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany, and during the Second World War, most Jews were deported and killed by the Germans. In 1942, Prague was witness to the assassination of one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany – Reinhard Heydrich – during Operation Anthropoid, accomplished by Czechoslovak national heroes Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš. Hitler ordered bloody reprisals.
At the end of the war, Prague suffered several bombing raids by the US Army Air Forces. 701 people were killed, more than 1,000 people were injured and some of buildings, factories and historical landmarks (Emmaus Monastery, Faust House, Vinohrady Synagogue) were destroyed. Many historic structures in Prague, however, escaped the destruction of the war and the damage was small compared to the total destruction of many other cities in that time. According to American pilots, it was the result of a navigational mistake.
On 5 May 1945, two days before Germany capitulated, an uprising against Germany occurred. Four days later, the 3rd Shock Army of the Red Army took the city, with fierce fighting until 11 May 1945. The majority (about 50,000 people) of the German population of Prague either fled or were expelled by the Beneš decrees in the aftermath of the war.
Prague was a city in the territory of military and political control of the Soviet Union (see Iron Curtain). The biggest Stalin Monument was unveiled on Letná hill in 1955 and destroyed in 1962. The 4th Czechoslovakian Writers' Congress held in the city in June 1967 took a strong position against the regime. On 31 October 1967 students demonstrated at Strahov. This spurred the new secretary of the Communist Party, Alexander Dubček, to proclaim a new deal in his city's and country's life, starting the short-lived season of the "socialism with a human face". It was the Prague Spring, which aimed at the renovation of institutions in a democratic way. The other Warsaw Pact member countries, except Romania and Albania, reacted with the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the capital on 21 August 1968 by tanks, suppressing any attempt at reform. Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc committed suicide by self-immolation in January and February 1969 to protest against the "normalization" of the country.
In 1989, after the riot police beat back a peaceful student demonstration, the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague, and the Czechoslovak capital benefited greatly from the new mood. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital city of the new Czech Republic. From 1995 high-rise buildings began to be built in Prague in large quantities. In the late 1990s, Prague again became an important cultural centre of Europe and was notably influenced by globalisation[clarification needed]. In 2000, IMF and World Bank summits took place in Prague. In 2002, Prague suffered from widespread floods that damaged buildings and its underground transport system.
Prague launched a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the candidate city shortlist. In June 2009, as the result of financial pressures from the global recession, Prague's officials also chose to cancel the city's planned bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The Czech name Praha is derived from an old Slavic word, práh, which means "ford" or "rapid", referring to the city's origin at a crossing point of the Vltava river. The same etymology is associated with the Praga district of Warsaw.
Another view to the origin of name is also related to the Czech word práh (in the mean of a threshold) and a legendary etymology connects the name of the city with princess Libuše, prophetess and a wife of mythical founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. She is said to have ordered the city "to be built where a man hews a threshold of his house". The Czech práh might thus be understood to refer to rapids or fords in the river, the edge of which could have acted as a means of fording the river – thus providing a "threshold" to the castle.
Another derivation of the name Praha is suggested from na prazě, the original term for the shale hillside rock upon which the original castle was built. At that time, the castle was surrounded by forests, covering the nine hills of the future city – the Old Town on the opposite side of the river, as well as the Lesser Town beneath the existing castle, appeared only later.
The English spelling of the city's name is borrowed from French. Prague is also called the "City of a Hundred Spires", based on a count by 19th century mathematician Bernard Bolzano, today's count is estimated by Prague Information Service at 500. Nicknames for Prague have also included: the Golden City, the Mother of Cities and the Heart of Europe.
Prague is situated on the Vltava river, at 50°05"N and 14°27"E. in the centre of the Bohemian Basin. Prague is approximately at the same latitude as Frankfurt, Germany; Paris, France; and Vancouver, Canada.
Prague has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb). The winters are relatively cold with average temperatures at about freezing point, and with very little sunshine. Snow cover can be common between mid-November and late March although snow accumulations of more than 20 cm (8 in) are infrequent. There are also a few periods of mild temperatures in winter. Summers usually bring plenty of sunshine and the average high temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Nights can be quite cool even in summer, though. Precipitation in Prague (and most of the Bohemian lowland) is rather low (just over 500 mm [20 in] per year) since it is located in the rain shadow of the Sudetes and other mountain ranges. The driest season is usually winter while late spring and summer can bring quite heavy rain, especially in form of thundershowers. Temperature inversions are relatively common between mid-October and mid-March bringing foggy, cold days and sometimes moderate air pollution. Prague is also a windy city with common sustained western winds and an average wind speed of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) that often help break temperature inversions and clear the air in cold months.
|Climate data for Prague (1981–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||17.4
|Average high °C (°F)||1.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−1.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−4
|Record low °C (°F)||−27.5
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||23.5
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||17.9
|Average precipitation days||6.8||5.6||6.2||7.3||9.8||10.3||9.1||8.8||7.0||5.5||7.0||6.8||90.2|
|Average relative humidity (%)||86||83||77||69||70||71||70||71||76||81||87||88||77|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||50.0||72.4||124.7||167.6||214.0||218.3||226.2||212.3||161.0||120.8||53.9||46.7||1,667.9|
|Source #1: Pogoda.ru.net|
|Source #2: NOAA|
According to the 2011 census, about 14% of the city inhabitants were foreigners, the highest proportion in the country.
|Foreign residents in the city (2016)|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Includes||Historic Centre of Prague and Průhonice Park|
|Criteria||Cultural: ii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1992 (16th Session)|
|Buffer zone||9,887.09 ha|
The city is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events. Some of the significant cultural institutions include the National Theatre (Národní Divadlo) and the Estates Theatre (Stavovské or Tylovo or Nosticovo divadlo), where the premières of Mozart's Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito were held. Other major cultural institutions are the Rudolfinum which is home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Municipal House which is home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The Prague State Opera (Státní opera) performs at the Smetana Theatre.
The city has many world-class museums, including the National Museum (Národní muzeum), the Museum of the Capital City of Prague, the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Alfons Mucha Museum, the African-Prague Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Náprstek Museum (Náprstkovo Muzeum), the Josef Sudek Gallery and The Josef Sudek Studio, the National Library and the National Gallery, which manages the largest collection of art in the Czech Republic.
There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. It hosts music festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival, the Prague International Organ Festival and the Prague International Jazz Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World Film Festival and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The city also hosts the Prague Writers' Festival, the Prague Folklore Days, Prague Advent Choral Meeting the Summer Shakespeare Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival, as well as the hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.
Many films have been made at Barrandov Studios and at Prague Studios. Hollywood films set in Prague include Mission Impossible, xXx, Blade II, Alien vs. Predator, Doom, Chronicles of Narnia, Hellboy, Red Tails, Children of Dune and Van Helsing. Other Czech films shot in Prague include Empties, EuroTrip, Amadeus and The Fifth Horseman is Fear. Also, the romantic music video "Never Tear Us Apart" by INXS, "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" by Kanye West was shot in the city, and features shots of the Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock, among other famous landmarks. Rihanna's "Don't Stop the Music" video was filmed at Prague's Radost FX Club. The city was also the setting for the film Dungeons and Dragons in 2000. The music video "Silver and Cold" by AFI, an American rock band, was also filmed in Prague. Many Indian films have also been filmed in the city including Yuvraaj, Drona and Rockstar. Early 2000's europop hit "Something" by "Lasgo" was filmed at the central train station in Prague.
Video games set in Prague include Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon, Still Life, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
With the growth of low-cost airlines in Europe, Prague has become a popular weekend city destination allowing tourists to visit its many museums and cultural sites as well as try its famous Czech beers and hearty cuisine.
Recent major events held in Prague:
In 2008 the Allegro restaurant received the first Michelin star in the whole of the post-Communist part of Central Europe. It retained its star until 2011. As of 2016[update] there are three Michelin-starred restaurants in Prague: Alcron, La Degustation, Bohême Bourgeoise, and Field.
In Malá Strana, Staré Město, Žižkov and Nusle there are hundreds of restaurants, bars and pubs, especially with Czech beer. Prague also hosts the Czech Beer Festival (Český pivní festival), which is the largest beer festival in the Czech Republic, held for 17 days every year in May. At the festival, more than 70 brands of Czech beer can be tasted.
Prague is home to many breweries including:
Prague's economy accounts for 25% of the Czech GDP making it the highest performing regional economy of the country. According to the Eurostat, as of 2007[update], its GDP per capita in purchasing power standard is €42,800. Prague ranked the 6th best-performing European NUTS two-level region at 182,4 percent of the EU-28 average in 2016.
The city is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies.
Prague employs almost a fifth of the entire Czech workforce, and its wages are significantly above average (~+25%). In December 2015, average salaries available in Prague reached 35,853 CZK, an annual increase of 3.4%, which was nevertheless lower than national increase of 3.9% both in nominal and real terms. (Inflation in Prague was 0.5% in December, compared with 0.1% nationally.) Since 1990, the city's economic structure has shifted from industrial to service-oriented. Industry is present in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, printing, food processing, manufacture of transport equipment, computer technology and electrical engineering. In the service sector, financial and commercial services, trade, restaurants, hospitality and public administration are the most significant. Services account for around 80 percent of employment. There are 800,000 employees in Prague, including 120,000 commuters. The number of (legally registered) foreign residents in Prague has been increasing in spite of the country's economic downturn. As of March 2010, 148,035 foreign workers were reported to be living in the city making up about 18 percent of the workforce, up from 131,132 in 2008. Approximately one-fifth of all investment in the Czech Republic takes place in the city.
Almost one-half of the national income from tourism is spent in Prague. The city offers approximately 73,000 beds in accommodation facilities, most of which were built after 1990, including almost 51,000 beds in hotels and boarding houses.
From the late 1990s to late 2000s, the city was a popular filming location for international productions such as Hollywood and Bollywood motion pictures. A combination of architecture, low costs and the existing motion picture infrastructure have proven attractive to international film production companies.
The modern economy of Prague is largely service and export-based and, in a 2010 survey, the city was named the best city in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) for business.
In 2005, Prague was deemed among the three best cities in Central and Eastern Europe according to The Economist's livability rankings. The city was named as a top-tier nexus city for innovation across multiple sectors of the global innovation economy, placing 29th globally out of 289 cities, ahead of Brussels and Helsinki for innovation in 2010 in 2thinknow annual analysts Innovation Cities Index. Na příkopě in New Town is the most expensive street in the whole of Central Europe.
In the Eurostat research, Prague ranked fifth among Europe's 271 regions in terms of gross domestic product per inhabitant, achieving 172 percent of the EU average. It ranked just above Paris and well above the country as a whole, which achieved 80 percent of the EU average.
Companies with highest turnover in the region in 2014:
|Name||Turnover, mld. Kč|
|RWE Supply & Trading CZ||146.1|
Prague is also the site of some of the most important offices and institutions of the Czech Republic.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Romanesque, to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Art Nouveau, Cubist, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.
Prague is classified as an "Beta+" global city according to GaWC studies, comparable to Vienna, Seoul and Washington, D.C. Prague ranked sixth in the Tripadvisor world list of best destinations in 2016. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 6.4 million international visitors annually, as of 2014[update]. Prague is the fifth most visited European city after London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. Prague's low cost of living makes it a popular destination for expats relocating to Europe.
The Charles Bridge is a historic bridge from the 14th century
Prague Castle is the biggest ancient castle in the world
View of Pařížská st. from Letná Park
National Theatre offers opera, drama, ballet and other performances
Nine public universities and thirty six private universities are located in the city, including:
The region city of Prague is an important centre of research. It is the seat of 39 out of 54 institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, including the largest ones, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Microbiology and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. It is also a seat of 10 public research institutes, four business incubators and large hospitals performing research and development activities such as the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague or the Motol University Hospital. Universities seated in Prague (see section Colleges and Universities) also represent important centres of science and research activities.
As of 2008[update], there were 13,000 researchers (out of 30,000 in the Czech Republic, counted in full-time equivalent), representing 3% share of Prague's economically active population. Gross expenditure on research and development accounted for €901.3 million (41.5% of country's total).
Prague was selected to host administration of the EU satellite navigation system Galileo. It started to provide its first services in December 2016 and full completion is expected by 2020.
The public transport infrastructure (PID, Pražská integrovaná doprava) consists of a heavily used integrated transport system of Prague Metro (lines A, B, and C – its length is 65 km (40 mi) with 61 stations in total), Prague tram system, Prague buses, commuter S-trains, funiculars, and six ferries. Prague has one of the highest rates of public transport usage in the world, with 1.2 billion passenger journeys per year. Prague has about 130 bus lines (numbers 100–299) and 22 tram lines (numbers 1–26). There are also three funiculars, one on Petřín Hill, one on Mrázovka Hill and a third at the Zoo in Troja.
The Prague tram system now operates various types of trams: still popular classic Tatra T3, newer Tatra KT8D5, T6A5, Škoda 14 T (designed by Porsche), newest modern Škoda 15 T and nostalgic tram lines 23 and 41. Although Melbourne, Australia has the longest total tram system length in the world, Prague's tram network is one of the largest in the world by other measures.
The Prague tram rolling stock consists of over 900 individual cars, of those around 400 are the modernized T3 class, which are typically operated coupled together in pairs. The system carries more than 356 million passengers annually, the highest tram patronage in the world after Budapest. On a per capita basis, Prague has the second highest tram patronage after Zürich.
All services have a common ticketing system, and are run by the Prague Public Transport Company (Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, a. s.) and several other companies. Recently, the Regional Organiser of Prague Integrated Transport (ROPID) has franchised operation of ferries on the Vltava river, which are also a part of the public transport system with common fares. Taxi services make pick-ups on the streets or operate from regulated taxi stands.
The Metro has three major lines extending throughout the city: A (green), B (yellow) and C (red). A fourth Metro line is planned, which would connect the city centre to southern parts of the city. The Prague Metro system served 589.2 million passengers in 2012, making it the fifth busiest metro system in Europe and the most-patronised in the world on a per capita basis. The first section of the Prague metro was put into operation in 1974. It was the stretch between stations Kačerov and Florenc on the current line C. The first part of Line A was opened in 1978 (Dejvická – Náměstí Míru), the first part of line B in 1985 (Anděl – Florenc).
In April 2015, construction finished to extend the green line A further into the northwest corner of Prague closer to the airport. A new interchange station for the bus in the direction of the airport is now the station Nádraží Veleslavín. The final station of the green line is Nemocnice Motol (Motol Hospital), giving people direct public transportation access to the largest medical facility in the Czech Republic and one of the largest in Europe. A railway connection to the airport is planned.
In operation there are currently two kinds of units: "81-71M" which is modernized variant of the Soviet Metrovagonmash 81-71 (completely modernized between 1995 and 2003) and new "Metro M1" trains (since 2000), manufactured by consortium consisting of Siemens, ČKD Praha and ADtranz. The minimum interval between two trains is 90 seconds.
The original Soviet vehicles "Ečs" were excluded in 1997, but one vehicle is placed in public transport museum in depot Střešovice. The Náměstí Míru metro station is the deepest station and is equipped with the longest escalator in European Union. The Prague metro is generally considered very safe.
The main flow of traffic leads through the centre of the city and through inner and outer ring roads (partially in operation).
Inner Ring Road (The City Ring "MO"): Once completed it will surround the wider central part of the city. The longest city tunnel in Europe with a length of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) and five interchanges has been completed to relieve congestion in the north-western part of Prague. Called Blanka tunnel complex and part of the City Ring Road, it was estimated to eventually cost – after several increases – 43 billion CZK. Construction started in 2007 and, after repeated delays, the tunnel was officially opened in September 2015. This tunnel complex completes a major part of the inner ring road. It is expected that the whole city ring will not be completed before 2020.
Outer Ring Road (The Prague Ring "D0"): This ring road will connect all major motorways and speedways that meet each other in Prague region and provide faster transit without a necessity to drive through the city. So far 39 km (24 mi), out of a total planned 83 km (52 mi), is in operation. The year of full completion is unknown due to incompetent, constantly changing, leadership of Czech Road and Motorway Directorate, lack of administrative preparations, and insufficient funding of road constructions. Most recently, the southern part of this road (with a length of more than 20 km (12 mi)) was opened on 22 September 2010.
The city forms the hub of the Czech railway system, with services to all parts of the country and abroad. The railway system links Prague with major European cities (which can be reached without transfers), including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Nurenberg and Dresden (Germany); Vienna, Graz and Linz (Austria); Warsaw and Cracow (Poland); Bratislava and Košice (Slovakia); Budapest (Hungary); Zürich (Switzerland); Split (Croatia, seasonal); Belgrade (Serbia, seasonal) and Moscow (Russia). Travel times range between 4.5 hours to Berlin and 27 hours to Moscow.
Prague's main international railway station is Hlavní nádraží, rail services are also available from other main stations: Masarykovo nádraží, Holešovice and Smíchov, in addition to suburban stations. Commuter rail services operate under the name Esko Praha, which is part of PID (Prague Integrated Transport).
Prague is served by Václav Havel Airport, the largest airport in the Czech Republic and one of the largest airports in central and eastern Europe. The airport is the hub of the flag carrier, Czech Airlines, as well as of the low-cost airlines SmartWings and Wizz Air operating throughout Europe. Other airports in Prague include the city's original airport in the north-eastern district of Kbely, which is serviced by the Czech Air Force, also internationally. The runway (9–27) at Kbely is 2 km (1 mi) long. The airport also houses the Prague Aviation Museum. The nearby Letňany airport is mainly used for private aviation and aeroclub aviation. Another airport in the proximity is Aero Vodochody aircraft factory to the north, used for testing purposes, as well as for aeroclub aviation. There are a few aeroclubs around Prague, such as the Točná airfield.
Prague is the site of many sports events, national stadiums and teams.
The annual conference Forum 2000, which was founded by former Czech President Václav Havel, Japanese philanthropist Yōhei Sasakawa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel in 1996, is held in Prague. Its main objective is "to identify the key issues facing civilization and to explore ways to prevent the escalation of conflicts that have religion, culture or ethnicity as their primary components", and also intends to promote democracy in non-democratic countries and to support civil society. Conferences have attracted a number of prominent thinkers, Nobel laureates, former and acting politicians, business leaders and other individuals like: Frederik Willem de Klerk, Bill Clinton, Nicholas Winton, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Dalai Lama, Hans Küng, Shimon Peres and Madeleine Albright.
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A number of other settlements are derived or similar to the name of Prague. In many of these cases, Czech emigration has left a number of namesake cities scattered over the globe, with a notable concentration in the New World.
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