Prague has been a beloved Bohemian capital through invading armies, World Wars, and a long Communist regime. Known in Czech as Praha, the city is the artistic, cultural, economic and political heart of the Czech Republic.
Fanciful monikers try to capture it's magic:
Praga mater urbium "Prague - Mother of Cities"
Stovezata Praha "City of a Hundred Spires"
Zlate mesto "Golden City",
as it's prominence and importance in the entire region of Central Europe cannot be overstated.
Prague is one of Europe's most charming and beautiful cities, popular with budget travellers and high society revellers alike.
A landlocked country in Central Europe, the Czech Republic is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. It is 78,866 sq km with a varied terrain of basins, rivers, and mountain ranges.
The country is divided into thirteen regions (kraje). Over 10.6 million people reside here. The country is located at 49 45 N, 15 30 E, in the time Zone CET (UTC+1).
The country has a temperate climate with cool summers; cold and cloudy winters. Most rain fall occurs during the summer. Temperatures vary greatly across the nation, depending on elevation.
The coldest month is usually January, followed by February and December. During these months, there is usually snow in the mountains and sometimes in the major cities and lowlands.
During March, April and May, the temperature usually increases rapidly. There are usually high water levels in the rivers with occasional flooding.
July, August, and June are the warmest months. Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are not unusual. Humidity is common and rain and storms appear frequently.
Located in the centre of Czech Republic, the capital city of Prague is about 496 square km. About 1.2 million inhabitants live here.
The Vltava River is a defining geographical feature as it rolls through the city. Prague is spread within the Vltava River basin over a series of nine hills: Letna, Vitkov, Opys, Vetrov, Skalka, Emauzy, Vysehrad, Karlov and the highest Petrin. The center of the city lies on both sides of the river, and was traditionally divided into four sections:
- Hradcany (hill on the left bank) - site of Prague Castle, a complex of palaces, reception halls, and churches that dates from the 10th century
- Lesser Quarter (Below the castle) - area of winding streets, Baroque palaces, gardens, and medieval houses.
- Old Town (on the opposite side of the river, connected to Lesser Quarter by Charles Bridge) - site of the Old Town Square and many Gothic buildings.
- New Town (connected to Old Town) - newer developments, including Wenceslaus Square.
Unfortunately, the city suffers from destructive air and water pollution. It's location within a basin allows air pollution to hover over the city while water pollution from the Northern regions flows into the city. This has been linked to some general health problem, but the city, country, and EU are working to contain and clean-up the damage as well as enacting new "green" policies.
Prague has been divided and re-labeled many times. The system most often referred to uses ten main districts with a number of municipalities within. The districts are numbered and spiral outward- Praha 1 through to Praha 10. If you encounter a higher district number, a different system is being used.
- Praha 1 - Composed of the most famous areas of Prague, this is the old center of the city.
- Praha 2 - An area with many shops, bars and restaurants. Prague's second castle, Vysehrad, can be found here.
- Praha 3 - This section features the large TV Tower and one of the largest horse statue in the world. The area is old working class, but like much of the city, is becoming gentrified. Considered one of the more Bohemian districts of Prague.
- Praha 4 - South along the river, this district has many panelaks (60's prefabricated housing blocks).
- Praha 5 - This district is undergoing massive construction work. It is also home to the Czech Hollywood, Barrandov Studios.
- Praha 6 - Located behind the castle, this is an expensive area to reside.
- Praha 7 - Trendy section of town with two of the city's biggest parks, Letna and Stromovka.
- Praha 8 - Northern suburbs around Karlin, this area was devastated by 2002 floods. The area has since been renovated and is growing rapidly.
- Praha 9 - The north-eastern outskirts of the city, this area has cheaper rents and massive shopping centres.
- Praha 10 - Expensive area with luxurious villas.
Buildings in Czech Republic have two numbers, one blue and one red.
The blue numbers are the orientation numbers- the ordinal number of the building on its street. Historically these numbers started from the end of the street closest to a river. Odd numbers are on one side of the street and even numbers on the other. These are the numbers usually referred to when describing an address or location.
The red numbers are related to the house registry for the entire quarter and correspond to the order the buildings were built. There are usually 3 or more digits.