City of Prague
There have been human settlements in the area around the City of Prague since the primeval age. The location was perfect - a ford across the river, fertile ground and merchants using the ford to get to Germany, Poland and other countries.
Prague as a royal city began between 880 - 890 AD, when Prince Bořivoj I started to build his residence at the site of today's Prague Castle. In the first half of the 10th century a second royal residence was built - Vyšehrad (Higher Castle). Both of these residencies were built on steep hills, below which large business centres were established.
In the 13th century the citizens in the Vyšehrad area came together in Prague Old Town and built a fortification around the town which is still visible in places. In 1257 King Přemysl Otakar II established and fortified Prague New Town which lies on the left river bank. Since the 14th century this area has been called Smaller Town.
The Roman Emperor and great Bohemian (Czech and Moravian) King Charles IV (1346-1378) brought the golden age to both of towns. He established the university, the first in Central Europe (1348), he laid down foundations to Prague New Town (1348), enlarged the Prague Castle Area, Hradčany and Smaller Town. He built dozens of religious and secular buildings. Prague became an amazing gothic city, one of the largest in Europe with 8.2 km, and more than 40 000 citizens.
Reformation of the Catholic Church and social problems lead to a reform movement that was symbolically started by the death of Jan Hus (1415) who was burned to death in Constanze. The Hussite revolution (1419 - 1434) liquidated royal power in the City of Prague and the Catholic Church, and defended the City against the Crusade of Roman Emperor Zikmund. During the revolution many of the churches and religious buildings were destroyed, including libraries and galleries. In 1526 the Habsburgs gained the Bohemian crown and immediatly began to reduce the rights of the Prague citizens, which continued during the reign of Ferdinand I and included an unsuccesful riot in 1547. Though for many Czech people this was the dark age of Prague and Czech history, it was almost a golden age for the culture and architecture. In the second half of 16th century the whole city was being reconstructed in renaissance style and from 1583 - 1612 the art-loving Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, relocated his royal seat from Vienna to Prague. Artists, magicians and scientists were drawn to Rudolf and to Prague. At that time Prague had more then 60 000 citizens and was one of the main cities of Europe.
The year 1620 was a sad year for the whole country. During the battle of White Mountain the Protestants lost their battle over the Catholics. Many protestants, including John Amos Commenius, had to emigrate to other protestants countries. The royal court moved back to Vienna and Prague started to lose its power and wealth. Again, though it was a sad time for the people, it was a good time for the culture. Baroque had its turn and the Catholic Church erected some great buildings in Prague -the National Library and Saint Nicholaus Church to name but two. On 12 February 1748, the Roman Emperor Joseph II united the four independent Prague towns - Old Town, New Town, Small Town and Hradčany - into one, Prague City.
More than two decades after the Velvet Revolution and the fall of communism, Prague is seen as a cosmopolitan city with an unique combination of a thrilling history, glorious architecture, and a huge variety of entertainment.