The Vltava River flows through the centre of Prague, and is the waterway around which the city has developed over the past 1000 years.
The Old Town (Staré Město) and the New Town (Nové Město) are on one side of the Vltava River. On the other bank lies the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and the magnificent Prague Castle, which is an awesome sight from the water.
At the centre of the city is Charles Bridge, under which the Vltava River flows, and with great force at certain times of the year.
From Charles Bridge, the panoramic view over the river and of the historic buildings running along its banks make it a focal point for visitors. Walk over the bridge, then take a river cruise under it, to enjoy two unique perspectives of the city.
Another pleasant way to take in the beauty of this part of Prague is to dine at one of the riverside restaurants; many have terraces which look out over the water.
Even in the city centre, nature is ever present by the river. Swans float around in search of food, and other birds fly through the air and swoop down on the water. From the river around Charles Bridge you can also see across to the wooded hillside of Petrin.
The history of Prague reveals that the Vltava River played a fundamental role in the foundation of the city. It provided vital water for drinking and crop irrigation, and a means of navigation for both the early settlements establishing along its banks and for travellers on the early trade routes between Southern and Northern Europe, which passed through the area.
The flow of the river can be strong in certain parts, so as well as transporting people and goods, the water was also used to power mills and industry. And to tame the river, to make it easier to navigate, eight dams, a large canal and weirs were constructed along the Slapy-Prague-Mělník stretch, where the Vltava flows into the River Elbe.
Outside Prague, the Vltava River meanders through pretty countryside, passing the occasional castle and historic building. At 434km in length, the Vltava River is the longest river in Czech Republic.