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Czech-Republic Tourist Information

Prague (in Czech "Praha"), the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of great cultural centers in Europe. Its picturesque towers and church steeples have lent it the name "The City of a Hundred Spires." Prague was first settled in the ninth century by the Premyslid dynasty, which remained in power for nearly 500 years. In the mid-fourteenth century the Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV founded Charles University in Prague. He was also responsible for the construction of the renowned Charles Bridge spanning the Vltava River, a major tourist attraction. In 1526 the Habsburgs came to power in Prague, and not until the end of World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire did they relinquish control of the city. In 1918 Prague became the capital of the newly formed democratic republic of Czechoslovakia.

In 1968 a movement known as the Prague Spring attempted a series of liberalizing reforms from within the government, only to be crushed by Warsaw Pact forces led by the Soviet Union. In 1989, non-violent protests in Prague's Wenceslaus Square toppled the Communist government in the Velvet Revolution (so named because of the lack of bloodshed). The new democracy elected as its president the prominent Czech playwright and philosopher Vaclav Havel, who follows in a long tradition of Prague artists, including composer Antonin Dvorak and writer Franz Kafka. In 1993 Czechoslovakia split into two parts, with Prague remaining as the capital of the Czech Republic.

Today Prague has become a center for tourism, attracting visitors who come to admire architectural and cultural landmarks such as the 14th century Týn Church, or the Old Jewish Cemetery. Europe's oldest Jewish burial ground, it attests to Prague's historically numerous Jewish residents, almost all of whom perished in the Holocaust.

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