The Czech Republic's capital and international showpiece, Prague is one of the most popular destinations in Central Europe. Its attraction lies in the physical beauty of the city with 900 years of architecture amazingly untouched by war. The centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it demands to be explored on foot, an entire outdoor museum of history and a haphazard mixture of splendid architecture.
In the 14th century Prague enjoyed a reputation of being one of the most important cities in Europe, but after the Second World War it disappeared completely behind the Iron Curtain. Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution and the end of Communism, Prague has thrown off the years of repression with alacrity and is returning to its earlier grandeur, enticing tourists with its fairytale quality and romantic atmosphere.
The historical centre of the city is compact and its attractions are all within easy reach. The core comprises the Castle District (Hradcany) west of the River Vltava, and the Old and New town (Stare Mesto and Nove Mesto) to the east, joined by the famous Charles Bridge. The Castle District situated on the hill overlooking the city incorporates the main attractions, including the Castle itself and the Cathedral. The Old Town is a maze of alleyways, cobbled streets and passages winding their way towards the beautiful Old Town Square, Staromestské Námestí. Josefov Ghetto, the old Jewish Quarter, is enclosed within the old town. The New Town, in contrast, is modern and has been laid out in wide boulevards, most famously Wenceslas Square, the fashionable shopping boulevard leading up to the foot of the grand National Gallery.
The city's cultural scene also features high on the list of things to do in Prague. In the years since November 17, 1989, when Prague's students took to the streets to help bring down the 40-year-old Communist regime, the city has enjoyed an exhilarating cultural renaissance. Amid Prague's cobblestone streets and gold-tip spires, new galleries, cafés, and clubs teem with young Czechs and members of the city's colony of "expatriates." The arts and theater are also thriving in the "new" Prague. Young playwrights, some writing in English, regularly stage their own works. Weekly poetry readings are standing room only. Classical music maintains its famous standards, while rock, jazz, and dance clubs are jammed nightly. The cultural/social offering is so wide-ranging that Prague was selected as one of the European Cities of Culture for the year 2000. Among other features, the city's territory is home to 81 museums, 108 art galleries, and 71 resident theatres and concert halls. Prague annually hosts major cultural events.This beautiful city, a 'symphony in stone', built along the river and on the surrounding hills, has never ceased to capture the hearts and imagination of visitors, painters, photographers and poets