Prague, Czech Praha, city, capital of the Czech Republic. Lying at the heart of Europe, it is one of the continent’s finest cities and the major Czech economic and cultural centre. The city has a rich architectural heritage that reflects both the uncertain currents of history in Bohemia and an urban life extending back more than 1,000 years.
The physical attractions and landmarks of Prague are many. Among the finest is the Charles Bridge (Karlův most), which stands astride the Vltava River. The winding course of the Vltava, with its succession of bridges and changing vistas, contrasts with the ever-present backdrop of the great castle of Hradčany (Prague Castle), which dominates the left-bank region of the city from behind massive walls set high on a hill. The narrow streets and little taverns and restaurants of the older quarters contrast with the broad sweep of Wenceslas Square and modern parks and housing developments, while the great 18th-century Baroque palaces have their own elegance and splendour. Seen from the surrounding hills, the many church towers make up a unique perspective, giving Prague its description as the “city of a hundred spires.” This architectural harmony was enhanced by post-1945 planning, which preserved the ancient core of the city as a major monument and carefully supervised all modern building. In 1992 the historic city centre was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.