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Prague History

History of Prague

The history of Prague is an epic story. The city has witnessed a declaration of independence, Nazi control, oppressive communism and capitalist democracy. And that was just the 20th century! Below is a brief history of Prague and the Czech Republic.

Prague History
5500 BC-4500 BC: First evidence of continuous occupation of the area around Prague, by various Germanic and Celtic tribes. Trade routes leading from Southern to Northern Europe pass through the area.
Around 500 BC: One of the Celtic tribes, the Boii, are the first inhabitants known by name. The Boii named the region Bohemia and the river Vltava.
6th century: Arrival of the Slavs. Slavic settlements are established alongside the Germanic settlements around Prague. The Slavs eventually become the dominant people.
8th century: First settlement established on the site of present day Prague, in the Lesser Town (Mala Strana).
9th century: Settlement established on a hilltop site above the Lesser Town, which leads to the construction of Prague Castle.
Around 870: Foundation of Prague Castle.
Around 926: Construction of a Romanesque rotunda, the original church built on the site of St. Vitus Cathedral in the grounds of Prague Castle.
965: Prague first reported in the narration of Ibrahim Ibn Jakub, a merchant.
973: Foundation of Prague bishopric.
10th century: Foundation of Vysehrad on the opposite bank of the Vltava river.
1085: Prague becomes the residence of the first Bohemian king Vratislav I.
1172: Construction of Judita´s Bridge, the predecessor of Charles Bridge, and the 2nd stone bridge in Central Europe.
Prague Castle
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
Around 1230: Establishment of the Old Town (Staré Město).
1257: Premysl Otakar II formalises the establishment of the Lesser Town, giving it town status and encouraging migrants from Northern Germany to settle here.
1310-1346: John of Luxembourg rules as the King of Bohemia.
Around 1320: Hradcany, the area around Prague Castle, is established.
1338: Foundation of the Old Town Hall - the importance of the city increases.
1344: Prague bishopric upgraded to archbishopric. Construction of St. Vitus Cathedral begins (finishes in 1929).
1346-1378: Charles IV epoch - Prague becomes the capital of the Bohemian Kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire.
1348: Foundation of the New Town (Nové Město) and Charles University, the first university in Central Europe.
1419-1437: Attempts by the clergy to reform the church result in the Hussite's revolutionary movement lead by Jan Hus, the reform preacher and martyr.
1526: The Hapsburg dynasty ascends the Bohemian throne (lasts until 1918).
1583-1611: Rudolf II becomes the king of Bohemia. Prague becomes the emperor's residence and the centre of social and cultural life.
1618-1620: Defeat of the Czech nobles´ uprising; the Czech language and Czech national consciousness begin to decline.
1784: Union of the four hitherto independent Prague urban units (Hradcany, Lesser Town, Old Town and New Town).
1784-1848: Period of Czech national revival, beginning of the industrial revolution, establishment of Czech institutions.
Kampa Island in Prague
Old Town Square in Prague
1918: Proclamation of the independence of Czechoslovakia. Prague becomes the capital of the new state.
1939-1945: Occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany.
1945: The Prague uprising and the "liberation" of Prague by the Soviet army.
1948: Czechoslovak coup d'état - Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumes control of the country, leading to four decades of communist dictatorship.
1968: Prague Spring - period of political liberalisation lead by Alexander Dubček, who was elected the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Efforts to reform communism were ultimately thwarted by the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact.
1989: The Velvet Revolution, so named because it is non-violent, starts on the 17th November. Student and other popular demonstrations against communism result in the collapse of communist rule, and the country's conversion to a parliamentary democracy. Vaclav Havel is elected President of Czechoslovakia.
1990: First free elections after the communist era.
1993: January 1, Czechoslovakia splits in two and the Czech Republic is founded.
1993: January 26, Vaclav Havel elected first president of the Czech Republic.
1999: March 12, Czech Republic becomes a member of NATO.
2004: May 1, Czech Republic joins the European Union (E.U.).
2008: January 1, Czech Republic accedes to the Schengen agreement and removes internal borders with Schengen area countries. This allows travel to and from these countries without checks, both at land borders and airports.
The following Prague tours will help participants to gain a greater understanding of the history of Prague: Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour, Best of Prague Walking Tour and Prague Explorer Walking Tour.

For information on the layout of the city, read our guide to Prague tourism information.
For Prague tourist information, to assist visitors to Prague: Prague tourist information.

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