According to abbreviationfinder, Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, on the Vltava River, with (2019) 1.3 million residents the largest city in the country.
Prague, which has other universities in addition to Charles University (founded in 1348 as the first German university), is a cultural, commercial and economic center and is one of the most popular European city trip destinations. Almost a quarter of the total Czech gross domestic product is generated in the city.
The cityscape is particularly characterized by the late Gothic buildings from the time of Charles IV and buildings from the Baroque period, from which the nickname »Golden Prague« is derived. The town’s landmark is the castle (seat of the President since 1918) on the Hradschin (castle hill, largest closed castle area in the world) with the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral (1344–85). The center of the city is Wenceslas Square with the statue of St. Wenceslas.
Prague gained importance as a bishopric (973) and trading center. Under Emperor Charles IV, who resided here from 1348, the city experienced a cultural and economic heyday. The Prague window lintel in 1618 triggered the Bohemian Uprising and ultimately the Thirty Years War.
In the historic old town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) you can find residential buildings with Romanesque cellars, Gothic superstructures and baroque facades. The Gothic Powder Tower is one of the 13 towers of the old city fortifications. The Old Town Hall (originally 14th century, expanded several times, most recently in 1878) has a famous astronomical clock (improved in 1410, 1490 by master Hanuš z Růže).
The Teynhof (Ungelt) served merchants as a trading and storage place; his Granovský house is one of the best preserved Renaissance houses. The Tyn Church (founded in 1135) has been rebuilt in Gothic style since 1365 (later partially redesigned). The Church of the Holy Spirit, the Agnes Monastery (founded in 1234; exhibition rooms of the National Gallery since 1963) and the Church of the Aegidia were built around the same time. The house for the stone bell (early Gothic, 1340) was built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Baroque style in the 19th century and restored to its original Gothic form in 1975-88. From 1357 Charles IV had the Charles Bridge built over the Vltava; the Old Town Bridge Tower was built in 1357. From 1683 the bridge was decorated with statues of saints (the oldest is that of John of Nepomuk).
The baroque buildings include, among others. the Kreuzherrenkirche (1679–88 by J.-B. Mathey) and the St. Franziskus Church (17th century), also the Jakobskirche (founded in 1232, rebuilt in Baroque style) and many aristocratic palaces (Kinsky Palace, today the National Gallery’s drawing and graphics department; Clam-Gallas; Pachta et al). The Estates Theater (1781–83), the courthouse on the Obstmarkt, once part of the royal mint, and the Rudolfinum (Künstlerhaus, 1876–84; seat of the Philharmonie and Galerie Rudolfinum, museum for contemporary art) are more recent. The first main building of the university is the Carolinum, created from a residential building (1370) with a Gothic bay window. In the Klementinum, formerly a Jesuit college, with its splendid baroque halls, there are now libraries.
One of the oldest settlements in the Prague area is Josefstadt (name since 1850), originally the Jewish town, with the Old New Synagogue from 1270 (oldest in Europe), the Jewish Town Hall with the High or Town Hall Synagogue (built in 1568, later changed; after restoration, since 1996 Jewish study center), Pinkas Synagogue (14th century, renovations 1536, 1625) with the memorial to the victims of National Socialism and the old Jewish cemetery with almost 12,000 gravestones (15th – 18th centuries).
The centers of the New Town are Wenceslas Square with the equestrian statue of St. Wenceslas by J. Myslbek (completed in 1922) and the National Museum (neo-Renaissance, 1885-90), which closes it in the southeast, as well as Karlsplatz, the largest square in the city, with the New Town Hall (im Core 14th and 15th centuries). The churches of Maria Schnee (1347, renovated after the collapse in 1611), Heinrichskirche (1348–51) and Sankt Wenzel am Zderas also date from the 14th century. Many aristocratic palaces were built in the baroque period, including the Palais Swerts-Spork, Schirnding (Kaňkahaus), Sylva-Taroucca and Losinthal, in the 18th century the Palais Mac Neven. The National Theater (on the banks of the Vltava) was built in 1868–81 (1980–83 by Karl Prager and Stanislav Libenský supplemented by a modern extension). The Vyšehrad castle complex, as a temporary princely seat, the structural equivalent of the Hradschin on the other side of the Vltava, developed into an independent settlement in the 15th century, and in the second half of the 17th century it was expanded into a fortress with baroque gates. The often rebuilt collegiate chapter church of St. Peter and Paul and the Romanesque St. Martin’s Rotunda date from the 11th century.
On the Lesser Town, almost 200 aristocratic palaces were built in the Baroque period (Auersperg, Buquoy, Fürstenberg, Kolowrat, Liechtenstein, Lobkowitz, Morzin, Nostitz, Rohan, Schönborn and others); the Waldstein Palace with riding arena and Sala terrena was built by Italian builders for A. V. E. Valdštejn (Wallenstein, Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von). The St. Niklas Church, a work by C. and K. I. Dientzenhofer (1703–53), the St. Thomas Church of the Augustinian Hermits (13th century core, later redesigned, 1725–31 by K. I. Dientzenhofer Baroque style) and the pilgrimage church Maria de Victoria (originally built 1611-13 for German Protestants, handed over to the Carmelites in 1624 and rebuilt), where the »Prague Jesus Child« has been venerated since 1628, are the most important churches on the Lesser Town.
Prague Castle on the Hradschin has been the seat of the Premyslid princes, emperors, kings and presidents since the early Middle Ages. Remains of the early castle were uncovered during excavations (wooden buildings, palace, etc.). Gothic extensions were built under Charles IV and Wenceslaus IV. B. Ried created the Wladislawsaal (1486–1502), one of the most important rooms in the royal palace. The current shape of the castle goes back to the renovation under Empress Maria Theresa. The Saint Vitus Cathedral was donated by Duke Wenceslaus the Saint around 925. The original round church was replaced in the 11th century by a Romanesque basilica and later by the Gothic cathedral of the masters Matthias von Arrasand P. Parler; The cathedral was not completed until 1929. The high tomb of the saint is located in the Wenceslas Chapel, a side chamber contains the coronation insignia. The royal oratory, the archiepiscopal or Pernstein chapel, the sarcophagus of John of Nepomuk (1733–36), the royal mausoleum and the royal crypt under the mausoleum are among the most important memorials in the cathedral. At the Romanesque St. George’s Church (consecrated around 925) in the castle, the princes founded the first women’s monastery in Bohemia in 973 (building from the 12th century, today houses a section of the National Gallery). Prokop von Sázava isin the All Saints Church (1370–87, choir by P. Parler), a national patron, is buried. Queen Anna’s Belvedere Palace, a Renaissance building (1538–63), is located in the gardens.
Next to the castle are the Archbishop’s Palace (1561; changed to Baroque style by J.-B. Mathey in 1675–79) as well as numerous canons and aristocratic palaces (including the Schwarzenberg Palace with sgraffito decoration; Sternberg Palace, today the main building of the National Gallery). From the Palais Toskana (from Mathey) the imperial private property was administered. The Loreto shrine with the Casa Santa chapel (since 1626) with the Loreto treasure is one of the most beautiful baroque monuments in the city. The Černín Palace (1669–92) is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. To the southwest of the castle is the former Strahov Premonstratensian Abbey (founded in the 12th century, rebuilt in Baroque style) with a valuable art collection.
Many Art Nouveau buildings have also been preserved in Prague, including the magnificent Municipal House (Obecní dům, 1906–11; today the Prague House of Representatives, with a concert hall, salons, etc.) near the Powder Tower, the Prumyslový Palace (238 m long, built for the 1891 anniversary exhibition) Façade as a steel arch construction and 51 m high tower), the Grand Hotel Europa (1906) on Wenceslas Square and numerous residential buildings, especially on Pariser Straße (Pařížská), as well as buildings in the style of Czech Cubism (e.g. Villa Vyšehrad by Josef Chochol, 1913; house to the Black Mother of God by Josef Gočár, 1911/12, today department of the National Gallery, Museum of Czech Cubism). In the classic modern style, the “Villa Müller” in the Střesovice district was built in 1928–30 according to plans by A. Loos and Karel Lhota (renovated from 1998–2000; today a branch of the Prague Museum with an exhibition on the work of A. Loos).
Zbraslav Castle, originally a Cistercian monastery founded in 1292 (abolished in 1784), whose building was rebuilt around 1709 and redesigned into a castle at the beginning of the 20th century (today a department of the National Gallery) is located in the district of Zbraslav (King’s Hall), founded in 1268 as a royal hunting court with collections of Asian art).
In addition to reconstruction and restoration measures on numerous buildings, the newly built hotels, office and commercial buildings in particular contribute to the change in the cityscape. IBC building (International Business Center) by Václav Králiček and Martin Kotík (1990-93), Office Center in the Vinohrady district by A. D. N. S. Architects (1994), Rašín (“Ginger and Fred”) office building by F. O. Gehry and Vladimir Milunić (1994 -97).