The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe and a member state of the European Union. The country has borders with Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west, Austria to the south, and Slovakia to the east. The capital and largest city is Prague, a major tourist destination. The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as parts of Silesia.
Following the Battle of Mohács, the Czech lands fell under the Habsburg rule from 1526, later becoming part of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary. The independent Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I. After the Munich Agreement, German occupation of Czechoslovakia and the consequent disillusion with the Western response and gratitude for the liberation of the major portion of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army, the Communist party won plurality (38 %) in 1946 elections. In an 1948 overturn, Czechoslovakia became a communist-ruled state. In 1968, the increasing dissatisfaction has culminated in attempts to reform the communist regime. The events, known as Prague Spring of 1968, had ended with a invasion of armies of Warsaw Pact countries, and the troops remained in the country until the overturn in 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the communist regime collapsed. On January 1, 1993 the country Czechoslovakia peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Czech Republic is a pluralist multi-party parliamentary representative democracy. President Václav Klaus is the current head of state. The Prime Minister is the head of government (currently Mirek Topolánek). The Parliament has two chambers - the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the European Union in 2004. It is also a member of the OECD, the Council of Europe and the Visegrád Group.
The official language spoken in the Czech Republic is Czech, which belongs to the group of Slavic languages. With a lots of people you can speak English or German.
The official currency in the Czech Republic is the Czech crown (Kč, CZK). Coins in circulation come in values of CZK 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and you can also receive a CZK 50 coin. Bank notes come in values of CZK 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000.
In some places is possible to pay directly with EUR, mostly is better to change for CZK. Exchange services are of course provided by banks and at most hotel receptions.
Never change money on the street !
Traveler's checks are also a safe way of transporting funds. If you are a customer of American Express, Thomas Cook or Visa, you will have no problems cashing your traveler's checks at banks.
Some shops, restaurants or hotels accepts credit cards.(VISA, Mastercard, AMEX).
You can travel in Czech Republic by car, by bus or by train. For privately owned vehicles, a toll sticker is required for use of motorways. They are available in 10-day, one month, and one year increments (you can buy vignette by post office or by petrol station). Tickets for train or for bus, is possible to buy them by cash desk on every station.
Prague Main railway station - (abbreviated as Praha hl.n) is the largest and most important railway station in Prague (Czech Republic). It was opened in 1871 as the Franz Joseph I station. Right from railway station, there is entry to metro station Hlavní nádraží - line C.
Railway station Holešovice - small railway station in the north of Prague, right from railway station, there is entry to metro station Holešovice - line C.
Smíchovské railway station - small railway station in the south of Prague, right from railway station, there is entry to metro station Smíchovské nádraží - line B.
Bus station Florenc - the biggest bus station in Prague. Near by bus station, there is entry to metro station Florenc - lines B and C.
Václav Havel Airport Prague - is located 10 km from the city centre, the airport is a hub for Czech Airlines. It was opened on April 5, 1937. Prague-Ruzyně is the biggest airport in the Czech Republic and with 12.4 million passengers in 2007 the busiest one within the new EU member states.
Interesting cities & locations in Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is not only Prague, but also lots of other interesting places. You can visit them very easily by train, by car or by bus.
Karlovy Vary - (in English as Carlsbad) is a spa city situated in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá. It is named after King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who founded the city in 1370. It is historically famous for its hot springs (13 main springs, about 300 smaller springs, and the warm-water Teplá River).
Český Krumlov - is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, best known for the fine architecture and art of the historic old town and Český Krumlov Castle. Old Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district.
Kutná Hora - the town of Kutná Hora owes its origin to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century. The earliest traces of silver have been found dating back to the 10th century. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plzeň - is a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic. It is the capital of the Plzeň Region and the fourth most populous city in the Czech Republic. It is located about 90 km west of Prague at the confluence of four rivers (Radbuza, Mže, Úhlava, and Úslava) which form the Berounka River. The city is known world wide for the Pilsener beer.
České Budějovice - is a city in the Czech Republic. It is the largest city in the South Bohemian Region and is the political and commercial capital of the region and centre of catholic Diocese of České Budějovice. České Budějovice has long been well known for the beer brewed there since the 13th century. For a time the town was the royal brewery for the Holy Roman Emperor, and Budweiser Bier (beer from Budweis) became, along with Pilsener, one of the best-known lagers. Brewing remains a major industry.
Liberec - is located on the Lusatian Neisse and by the Jizerské Mountains, it is the sixth-largest city in the Czech Republic. Settled by German and Flemish migrants since the 14th century, Liberec was once home to a thriving textile industry and hence nicknamed the Manchester of Bohemia. For many Czechs, Liberec is mostly associated with the huge shopping and entertainment complex- the Babylon Centre with famous aquapark.
Brno - is the second-largest city in the Czech Republic. It was founded in 1243, although the area had been settled since the 5th century. Špilberk Castle (royal castle, from 17th century fortress and the feared prison e.g. Carbonari) is one of the principal monuments, as is the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, also known as Petrov. The cathedral was built during the 14th and 15th centuries. Its bells ring noon at 11 a.m., a tradition since the siege by the Swedes in 1645. Villa Tugendhat, a unique example of modern functionalistic architecture, designed by Mies van der Rohe and built in the late 1920s close to the centre of the city, was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002.
Olomouc - is a city in Moravia, in the east of the Czech Republic. The city is located on the Morava river and is the ecclesiastical metropolis of Moravia. Olomouc contains several large squares, the chief of which is adorned with Holy Trinity Column, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most prominent church is the Saint Wenceslas cathedral.
Mariánské Lázně - is a spa town in the Carlsbad Region of the Czech Republic. The town, surrounded by green mountains, is an exquisite mosaic of parks and noble houses. Most of its buildings come from the town's Golden Era in the second half of the 19th century, when many celebrities and top European rulers came to enjoy the curative carbon dioxide springs.
Kroměříž - is a UNESCO town in the Zlín Region of the Czech Republic. The town's main landmark is the Baroque Kroměříž Bishop's Palace, where some scenes from Amadeus and Immortal Beloved were filmed. The adjacent Lustgarten, or Pleasure Park, is one of the World Heritage Sites.
Telč - is a town in southern Moravia, near Jihlava, in the Czech Republic. It contains a castle and a long urban plaza with well-conserved Renaissance houses; since 1992 all of this has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Karlštejn - is a large Gothic castle founded in the 14th century by Charles IV. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Empire coronation jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures. Located about 20 km southwest of Prague in the Karlštejn village, it is one of the most famous and heavily visited castles in the Czech Republic.
Konopiště - is a château (castle) located in the Czech Republic, about 50 km southeast of Prague, outside the city of Benešov. It has become famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I. The bullet that killed him, fired by Gavrilo Princip, is now an exhibit at the castle's museum.
Hluboká - Hluboká nad Vltavou is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic, near České Budějovice. This town was a favourite of Charles IV, who often visited when residing in České Budějovice. It is best known for its famous Windsor style chateau. The original royal castle of Přemysl Otakar II from the second half of the 13th century was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century by the Lords of Hradec. It received its present appearance under Count Jan Adam of Schwarzenberg. According to the English Windsor example, architects F. Beer and F. Deworetzky built a Romantic Neo-Gothic chateau, surrounded by a large English park. There is a winter garden and riding-hall where the Southern Bohemian gallery exhibitions have been housed since 1956.
Rožmberk - is a castle situated in South Bohemia near Rožmberk nad Vltavou in the Czech Republic. It is the oldest seat of the House of Rožmberk, a historical Czech aristocratic family.
Šternberk - the core is a medieval castle, at the end of the 19th century for possession of the castle was partly rebuilt romantically. Valuable collections of original family furniture museums and rich svezený from other severomoravských locks.
Orlík - this castle is surrounded by a huge castle park and a game preserve. It belongs to the house of Schwarzenberg, but it is normally during the summer open to public (especially visited by Czech and German tourists). The interior castle is documented their influence in politics and the military.
Litomyšl - the dominant feature of Litomyšl is the monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568-1581. The buildings of the castle precincts are not only exceptional for their architectural refinement, but have also inscribed themselves in history as the birthplace of the Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana.
Červená Lhota - is situated about 15 km north-west of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia, Czech Republic. Its picturesque Renaissance building is a destination of thousands of tourists every year.
Křivoklát - the castle was founded during 12th century. Between 14th and 15th century, first cottages appeared below the castle and the hamlet got known as Budy. Nearby hamlet Čamrdoves grew up, and during 17th and 18th century they became one village. In 1886 the hamlets Budy, Amalín, Čamrdoves, and Častonice created one single administrative unit, the village of Křivoklát.
Others iteresting places in Czech Republic
Pec pod Sněžkou & Sněžka - is a small town at the base of Sněžka Mountain, near Trutnov in the Hradec Králové Region of the Czech Republic. The town is one of the most well-known and most frequented mountain resorts in the Czech Republic. Sněžka is the highest mountain in the Karkonosze/Krkonoše Mountains, part of the Sudetes mountain range, rising to 1,602 metres above sea level. It lies on the Polish-Czech border, and a border stone is placed on the very top of the mountain.
Špindlerův mlýn - is a town in the Czech Republic in the Krkonoše. It received its name (which can be literally translated as Špindler's Mill) after a mill belonging to Spindler's family, where neighbours used to meet. The town is one of the most well-known and most frequented mountain resorts in the Czech Republic. Špindlerův Mlýn is one of the most visited ski resorts in the Czech Republic. During the winter season the area hosts the Europacup in freestyle skiing. In the surroundings there are many marked hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails.
Koněpruské jeskyně - is a cave system in Bohemian Karst, Czech Republic. It is located southwest of Prague, 6 km south of Beroun in the Central Bohemian Region. The name derives from nearby village of Koněprusy.
The three-level cave system inside the Zlatý kůň hill has developed in limestone of Devonian age. With the length of 2 km and vertical range of 70 m it is the largest cave system in Bohemia, but not in the Czech Republic (there are much larger cave systems in Moravian Karst). The tour of caves is 620 m long and lasts one hour.
Macocha - is a gorge in the Moravian Karst cave system of the Czech Republic located north of the city of Brno, near the town of Blansko. The Punkva River flows through it. It is a popular tourist attraction for casual visitors to the region, in addition to cavers and advanced technical divers. The gorge is about 138 meters deep and also the deepest of its kind (light hole type) in Central Europe.
Zoo Dvůr Králové - is a zoo located in Dvůr Králové nad Labem, Czech Republic. Dvůr Králové Zoo is a member of the Czech and Slovak Union of Zoological Gardens (UCSZ), founded in 1990, with 15 Czech and 4 Slovak member Zoos. Since 1995, it is member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA). Since 1997, Dvůr Králové Zoo is also member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The Zoo's specialization is African fauna. Their rarest animal is the Northern white rhino.
Mine museum Příbram - is a large open air museum of mining with historical buildings and expositions of mining history and mineralogy. It is located in Příbram's Březové Hory quarter, former important Czech mining centre. It is one of the biggest museums in the Czech Republic.
Terezín - was established at the end of the 18th century as a fortress; still surrounded by its massive ramparts, the town lies at the confluence of the rivers Labe (Elbe) and Ohře (Eger). The Main and Small Fortresses at Terezín, although the modern for their period, gradually became obsolete, and having lost their military function fell into disregard. Only in the relatively recent past has Terezín once again entered the worlds public consciousness as a tragic symbol of the sufferings of the tens of thousands of innocent people who died here during the Nazi occupation.