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Prague is one of Europe's most beautiful capitals. Once part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the city still seems like a place out of a royal fairy tale. The city of a thousand spires with baroque domes on rooftops - 'mother Prague' has a story to tell, and the surroundings to illustrate.
The golden city
Prague survived the Second World War largely unscathed and emerged from the Cold War with its own Velvet Revolution to become an independent capital. Its history stretches much further back, however, with Celts and Germanic tribes, the Luxembourg dynasty, and the Hapsburgs all taking turns. It is an often forgotten fact that Prague was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire starting in 1355.
Its assortment of well-preserved treasures from a range of different eras and in a host of different styles is one of the things that makes Prague so remarkable. Charles Bridge spans the Vltava River; the world's oldest ancient castle contains crown jewels; and cobblestone streets lead you through an Old Town maze reminiscent of Franz Kafka.
Kafka, in fact, was a native of Prague. No matter how many other cities he lived in, the famed surrealist writer could never shake the influence of this magical golden city. One visit to this Bohemian wonderland and you won't be able to, either.
You could visit Prague for the buildings alone. Styles ranging from Baroque to Gothic to Renaissance all find a home in this city. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Prague Castle as the world's oldest ancient castle and St Vitus Cathedral within it is the oldest gothic cathedral in Central Europe.
Visit the Old Town and the New Town, the Jewish Quarter and the Archbishop's Palace. Hang around Old Town Square to catch the Astronomical Clock strike the hour and wander the Belvedere's grounds. Prague's medieval center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses along the Vltava River give Kampa Island the feel of a 'little Venice.'
Prague offers not only buildings to gaze at, but also culture to experience. Home to the first established university in central Europe, Prague has always been a place for great minds. In addition to Kafka, composer Antonín Dvorák came from here. Mozart wrote 'Don Giovanni' while living in Prague and Einstein taught here for years. Significant chapters in the lives of Rainer Maria Rilke, Milan Kundera, and Miloš Forman were also set here, and the Prague Summer Programme has become one of the most important writers' residencies in the world.
Prague is compact enough for you to wander from museum to art exhibit to concert in a day. The illuminated Krizik Fountain hosts classical and contemporary musicals, creating a very special ambiance. There are numerous festivals and performances, and operas are performed at the National Theatre.
Prague is also said to be Europe's most haunted city. Follow winding alleyways hot on the heels of a ghost trail. One visit to Prague and you'll be haunted - in a good way - for a long time to come.