Prague Info

Prague, the capital of Czech Republic

The capital city of the Czech Republic; the political, economical and cultural centre of the country; the seat of the president, of the government and the parliament; the centre of university education, the seat of the Academy of Sciences and numerous sacademic institutions.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic. It has an area of 496 km2 and is home to 1,200,000 people. The year 870, when Prague castle was established, is regarded as the beginning of the city’s existence. However, people inhabited the area in the early Stone Age. In 1918, at the end of World War I, Prague was declared the capital of a new country – the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1993 it became the capital of an independent Czech Republic.

The heart of Europe

Prague is situated in the heart of Europe – approximately 600km from the Baltic, 700km from the North Sea and 700km from the Adriatic.
Prague is not a huge distance from other central European cities. Vienna is 300km away, Bratislava 320km, Berlin 350km, Budapest 550km, Warsaw 630km and Copenhagen 750km.

The most important protected historical centre in the Czech Republic

Typical for Prague city centre are its winding lanes and buildings in every possible architectural style: Romanesque rotundas, Gothic cathedrals, Baroque and Renaissance palaces, art nouveau, neo-classical, cubist and functionalist houses and contemporary structures. Prague is unusually rich in significant architectural monuments of all periods.

Prague’s historical centre has an area of 866ha (Hradčany and Prague Castle, Malá Strana, the Old Town including Charles Bridge and Josefov, the New Town and Vyšehrad). Since 1992 it has been listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.

European city of culture of 2000

Prague is one of nine European cities to hold this prestigious title which it gained thanks to its numerous museums and galleries housing unique collections, tens of theatres and important concert halls which host performances by world famous artists.

A city on a river and nine hills

Undulating topography gives Prague its inimitable beauty and its stunning panoramic views. Prague’s many hills provide some stunning vistas.
The River Vltava flows through Prague for 31km, and at its widest measures 330m. The Vltava has created some interesting places in Prague – islands and meanders, providing many idyllic scenes.

City of love

A walk through the gas-lit narrow streets, a kiss under a tree in blossom in a Baroque garden, a cruise on a historical steamship, night time at a castle or chateau, a ride on a steam train, a wedding in a chateau park – all of these are ingredients in the cocktail that is Prague. And it’s up to every visitor which ingredients to add.

Shopping and culinary delights

Famous Czech glass, costume jewellery, celebrated Czech beer, natural cosmetics, culinary specialities, world-famous brand names – all these come with a guarantee of quality and at a very reasonable price.

Golden Prague, a city of a hundred spires

Thie name Golden Prague was given to the city during the reign of Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV, when the towers of Prague Castle were covered in gold. Another theory is that Prague was called ‘Golden’ during the reign of Rudolf II who employed alchemists to turn ordinary metals into gold.

The city’s huge number of towers led to the city being called ‘the city of a hundred spires’ several centuries ago. At present there are around 500 towers in the city.

The history of Prague

The city’s beginners:

‘A glory that will reach up to the stars’ is how the mythical Princess Libuše saw the future of Prague according to the old Czech legend. It was Libuše who determined the site where the future city would be built.

Historians date the first settlements on the site of today’s city to the early Stone Age. However, the real history of the city is closely connected with Prague Castle, founded in 870, which became the seat of Czech rulers for centuries.

Important periods in the city’s history:

Prague experienced great expansion in the early 14th century when Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV made it his imperial capital.
Another important period for the city came in the late 16th century. During the reign of the Czech ruler and Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II of the Habsburg family, the Czech capital became an epicentre of political, social and cultural life in central Europe.

From the more recent past:

In 1918, at the end of World War I, Prague was declared the capital of a new country – the Czechoslovak Republic. In 1993 it became the capital of an independent Czech Republic.

The city’s name:

The name of the castle and then the entire city was, according to the first Czech chroniclers, derived from sills in the river Vltava (the Czech for ‘sill’ or ‘doorstep’ is ‘práh’, hence ‘Praha’, the Czech name for the city), over which the water tumbled. There are other more recent theories as to how the city acquired its name, but none are very conclusive.
And this is what the famous Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink had to say about the city’s name: ‘Prague’s name is no accident. It is a threshold between life on Earth and in Heaven, a much narrower threshold than in other places…’

Important telephone numbers

The most important emergency services have three-digit numbers which you should have with you at all times in case you should need them. These numbers can be called free of charge from mobiles even without a SIM card inserted.

  • 112 – General emergency number
  • 155 – Ambulance
  • 158 – Police
  • 156 – Municipal Police
  • 150 – Fire brigade

Free phone numbers in the Czech Republic begin with 800. The numbers for directory enquiries are 1180 and 1181 (there is a charge for calls to these numbers).

Embassies and consulates

You can access assistance in difficult situations from your country’s embassy. Embassies are always located in the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague, and a complete list can be found on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs website (www.mzv.cz). Some countries do not have an embassy in the Czech Republic but are represented by a consulate (for instance Australia, Columbia, Malta, New Zealand and Sri Lanka).

Arriving to the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic became a member of the EU in 2004. There are different rules for citizens of other EU member countries than for tourists from other parts of the world. Everyone must carry ID at all times.

EU citizens: Citizens of EU member states need a passport or other ID document to enter the Czech Republic. The same is true for citizens of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who enjoy free movement around the EEA (European Economic Area).

Non-EU citizens: Visitors from other countries require a passport with at least six months’ validity on the day of arrival and in some cases a visa. A list of states whose citizens require a visa to enter the Czech Republic can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (www.mzv.cz).

Schengen zone: From 31. 12. 2007 the Czech Republic will enter the so-called Schengen Zone. This group of counties have come together to enable people to cross their borders without passport controls. Despite this, however, a valid passport or other ID will still have to be carried at all times.

Language

The only official language in the Czech Republic is Czech, which is spoken by 96 % of the population. However, have no fear, as especially in larger cities you can make yourself understood in English relatively easily. Older generations of Czechs can speak Russian and you could also try German. French, Italian and Spanish are not widely spoken.

Czech belongs to the Slavic group of language (alongside Polish, Russian and Slovak for instance)

Useful words and phrases:

Dobrý den [dobree den] Hello (formal)
Ahoj [ahoi] Hello and goodbye (informal)
Na shledanou [naskhledanow] Goodbye (formal)
Dobrou noc [dobrow nots] Good night
Ano [ano] Yes
Ne [neh] No
Děkuji (Díky) [dyekuyi] Thank you
Prosím [proseem] Please
Pomozte mi, prosím [pomozteh mi proseem] Help me, please
Promiňte / S dovolením [prominyteh / sdovolenyeem] Excuse me
Mluvíte anglicky? [mluveeteh anglitsky] Do you speak English?
Nemluvím Česky [nemluveem cheski] I don’t speak Czech
Nerozumím [nerozumeem] I don’t understand
Ztratil jsem se [stratyil sem seh] I’m lost
Potřebuji doktora! [potrshebuyi doctora] I need a doctor
Potřebuji si zavolat [potrshebuyi si zavolat] I need to make a phone call
Zavolejte policii [zavoleyteh policiyi] Call the police
Hledám nemocnici [hledam nemocnitsi] I’m looking for the hospital
Kde je… [gdeh ye] Where is…?
Je to daleko? [ye to daleko] Is it far?
Vchod [fkhot] Entrance
Východ [veekhot] Exit
Informační centrum [informachnyee tsentrum] Information Centre
Toalety [toaleti] Toilets
Muži (Páni) [muzhi] Men
Ženy (Dámy) [zheni] Women
Kolik je hodin? [kolik ye hodyin] What’s the time?
Otevřeno [otevrsheno] Open
Zavřeno [zavrsheno] Closed
Potraviny [potravini] Grocer’s
Kolik to stojí? [kolik stoyee] How much is it?
Voda [voda] Water
Pivo [pivo] Beer
Víno [veeno] Wine
Mléko [mlehko] Milk
Chléb [khlehb] Bread
Maso [maso] Meat
Dobrou chuť [dobrow khutch] Bon appetite

Czech-English / English-Czech dictionary

City transport

Every large town and city in the Czech Republic has its own transport company which operates a local transport network. At every marked stop you will find detailed timetables of the services that stop there. The timetable also usually shows the time it takes for the service to travel between the individual stops. On board the current station and next stop are usually announced. Buttons to open doors are becoming ever more frequent on city transport. They can be found on the doors themselves (on the tram and metro on both sides) or on hand rails inside the vehicle.

The Prague integrated transport system: Passengers can use buses, trams and three metro lines to get around town quickly,
A transfer ticket is valid for 75 minutes on all types of transport (tram, bus and metro) and costs 20 Kč (70 cents). With this kind of ticket, passengers can change as many times they wish and need to.

Tips for visitors: Plan your journey down to the last second at IDOS.

Take a trip on a unique funicular railway with superb views from Petřín Hill. Prague transport tickets can be used on the service.

The Prague metro: The Prague underground system has a total length of 54.7 km. There are 54 stations on the three lines which each have a different letter and colour (A - green, B - yellow, C - red) and three of these are stations where passengers can change from one line to another (Můstek, Muzeum and Florenc).

Other town and cities with local transport networks: All towns and cities across the Czech Republic have some sort of public transport system. Tickets cost less than in Prague, and the network always covers every part of the town. There are transport networks in Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen, Liberec, Olomouc, Ústí nad Labem and many other places across the country.

Tips for visitors

  • If you are planning to stay in a Czech town for a longer period of time, why not find out about discounts available on the local transport network. For instance, in Prague 24 and 48-hour tickets can be purchased.
  • When staying in one place for a long time, it is always better to buy a monthly, 3-monthly or even a year ticket.

Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays mean most banks and offices will be closed. Ordinary shops also close on Sundays and public holidays, while supermarkets and shopping centres often stay open. It’s no problem on these days to visit a concert, exhibition, restaurant or bar.

Transport on weekends and on public holidays: Public transport does not run as often on these days as on weekdays. There are also special limited timetables in operation during the summer holidays.

Public holidays

Czech Independence Day (1 January): a day to mark the creation of an independent Czech Republic following the division of Czechoslovakia on 1 January 1993.


Liberation Day (8 May): the day commemorates the liberation of the Czechoslovakia by the Allies in May 1945.

Day of the Slavic Apostles Cyril and Methodius (5 July): the missionaries Cyril and Methodius are closely associated with the arrival of Christianity in this country and the first Slavic alphabet, Cyrillic (in the year 863).

Jan Hus Day (6 July):
the day marking the burning of Jan Hus at the stake (6. 7. 1415). Jan Hus was a reforming religious leader and the rector of Prague University.

Day of Czech Statehood (28 September): the day Czech Prince Wenceslas was murdered in the year 935 by his own brother. Not long after his death he was declared a saint. On this day the Czechs celebrate their patron saint and symbol of Czech statehood and national identity.

Czechoslovak Independence Day (28 October): a public holiday to mark the day Czechs and Slovaks established their own state in 1918 – the most important national holiday of the year.

Freedom and Democracy Day (17 November): the day Czechs remember the student struggles of 1939 and 1989 against the Nazi and communist regimes.

Other holidays:
  • New Year (1. January)
  • Easter Monday (March/April, changes every year)
  • Workers’ Day (1 May)
  • Christmas Eve (24 December)
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • Feast of St Stephen (26 December)
School holidays: the main school holidays are in summer (July and August). Children are also off school around Christmas (usually from 23 December –until 3 January) and in spring (a whole week – differs according to location).

How to avoid travel difficulties: remember when visiting the Czech Republic at the beginning and end of the main school holidays (around 1. 7. and 31. 8.) that there can be problems with the transport system across the country.

 

Info from: http://www.czechtourism.com