Historic Centre of Prague
Arts, trade and religion.
Location and siteAt the heart of Bohemia, Prague is situated in a meander of the Vlata River upriver from where it meets the Elbe River. It was a point of contact between the Slavic world and Western Europe, and served as a crossroads for several early trade routes.
With the exception of the castle of Prague and the adjacent Hradcany quarter, the historic city developed around three nodes: the Little City (Mala Strana) on the slopes of the north side of the river, the Old City (Stare Mesto) and the New City on the plain of the south side. Its irregular, tortuous layout has been preserved on both sides of the river since the Middle Ages. The long, narrow Wenceslas Square, which dates to the 14th century and is located in the New City, is the focal point of Prague. Today, ruins of towers reveal the layout of the fortifications, which have disappeared.
The architectural ensemble is magnificent. Innumerable Baroque works are adapted to the medieval fabric, blending with the Gothic works in this artistic landscape where all styles, from Romanesque to Modern, are represented. Together, the palaces, churches, monasteries, arcaded houses and gardens provide a rare sense of intensity. From the Charles Bridge, which is decorated with magnificent statues, extraordinary perspective views can be enjoyed.
Prague illustrates the process of continuous urban expansion since the Middle Ages. By its role in the political, economic, social and cultural evolution of Central Europe since the 14th century and the richness of its architectural and artistic traditions, it has served as a reference for the urban development of much of Central and Eastern Europe. (II) The quality of its urban and architectural ensemble justifies its international renown. (IV) It played a noteworthy role in the development of Christianity in Central Europe and attracted architects and artists from all over Europe. Since the reign of Charles IV, Prague has been the leading cultural and intellectual centre of Central Europe. (VI)
- A castle was erected on a hill on the north side of the Vlata River in 870, and a second fortified building, known as Vysehrad, appeared on a promontory on the opposite side, upriver. Starting in the 10th century, the space between these two citadels was developed. Under the Premyslid Dynasty, Prague, already an important trading centre, became the capital of Bohemia and the seat of the Bishop.
- Prague's expansion in the 12th century and its political and economic prosperity during the 13th century led to a period of intense architectural activity. Numerous Gothic monuments were built.
- During the 14th century, under Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, Prague enjoyed its heyday. The king erected the Bishop's Palace in 1344 and constructed the university in 1448. He also reconstructed and fortified the stone bridge and created the New City (Nove Mesto), a planned extension surrounded by a fortification wall. The city attracted the great European artists, especially from Italy.
- The conflicts of the Counter Reformation and, finally, the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) led to the decline of Prague. The city recovered, however, in the 17th century, when the Baroque style flourished.
- The end of the 19th century witnessed the destruction of numerous buildings, particularly in the Jewish quarter. Noteworthy modern constructions replaced them.
- The historical centre resisted industrialisation. During the Second World War, Prague was spared, for the most part, from destruction.
|Dr. Tomás Hudecek|
Lord Mayor of Prague
|Prague City Hall|
Mariánské námestí 2
110 01 Prague, 1, Czech Republic
+420 236 002617
+420 236 007 087
|Mr. Pavlas Vaclav|
International Affairs Department
|Prague City Hall|
11001 Prague, Czech Republic
+420 236 002 044
+420 236 007 087