Prague is a city with an enchanting and magical past; the present is a celebration of life, the future a fusion between the present and past, the old and the new. Everywhere you walk in Prague, all preserved architectural buildings are reminders of the city’s history where many famous artists lived.
Prague has been the capital of the ancient realm of Bohemia for centuries. In the mid-14th century, Prague was the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and Europe’s third-largest city in terms of population. The reign of Charles IV was a golden age in Czech history. However, the end of this period brought economic and political strife to the area as Protestant Hussites – inspired by the ideas of the religious reformer Jan Hus – battled it out with crusaders sent by the Catholic church in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the city was a leading centre in the Hapsburg Court, and it became the capital of the newly independent country of Czechoslovakia in 1918. This new country, led by President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, experienced a boom, and Czechoslovakia became one of the ten richest nations in the world. The Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia was disastrous for Czechoslovakia, leaving only the country’s beautiful buildings unscathed. After World War II, the restored Czechoslovak Republic fell under Soviet influence. An attempt to reform and humanize the Communist system, known as the Prague Spring, failed miserably when Russian forces invaded the country in August 1968. The 1970s and 1980s were stifled times for many Czechoslovakians, who created their own dissident counterculture. Mass protests and demonstrations in Prague led to the bloodless overthrow of the Communist regime in November 1989, also known as the Velvet Revolution. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, Prague unveiled its hidden wealth of Bohemian treasures and sent out an invitation to the rest of the world.