Prague is known as the “golden city” and “city of a hundred spires.” The history of Prague dates back to prior to the 9th Century and was a city reigned by Kings and Queens . The buildings and sites in Prague tell the story of the city’s rich history
The area that is now Prague was settled in 200 BC by Celts and later by Germans. The site was later conquered by the Slavs. The story of the beginning of Prague is considered a legend, a legend that may or may not be true, but it gives us a start, as this is the time that the Prague Castle was originally built in the 9 th Century. It was founded by Princess Libuse and her husband Premysl. From the time of its construction, the castle would be the seat of many Kings and Queens , even until today. These first kings were the Kings of Bohemia and many of them would also serve as rulers of the Holy Roman Empire
The city would continue to grow and flourish through its many Kings and Queens . The first notable growth was during the reign of King Vladislav II. It was he who commissioned the building of the the first bridge to be constructed over the Vltava River. The Judith Bridge was built in 1170, but later fell to pieces in 1342. King Otaker II built Prague Lesser Town in 1257, which later became ” Old Town ” after Charles IV had Prague New Town built in the 14 th Century.
King Charles IV would have the first major effect on the city. Charles IV was from the Luxembourg dynasty. He not only built New Town, but built the Charles Bridge on the site of the Judith Bridge . He had the Saint Vitus Cathedral constructed inside the Prague Castle . The cathedral is now the oldest Gothic cathedral in Europe . He began the Charles University , which is now the oldest university in Europe . At the time of his reign, Prague was the third largest city in Europe . The city was a place for trade, merchants, banks and mints. Prague would later become the Capitol of the Holy Roman Empire, which would cause the social and religious order of Prague to become more turbulent over time.
King Wenceslas IV would begin much of the religious turbulence in Prague . He had the St. John Nepomuk executed in the late 1300′s for reasons unknown for sure, although many stories exist as to why. He would also have the theologian and lecturer at the University, Jan Hus burned at the stake. Hus had become known for his sermons on the reformation of the church. Hus became too dangerous both politically and religiously and Wenceslas had him executed in 1415. This caused many people to rebel and the first defenestration of Prague occurred.
In 1618, the second and most well-known Defenestration of Prague occurred and sparked the beginning of the Thirty Years War. Ferdinand II of Hasburg was removed from power and replaced by Frederick V of Pfalz. The Czech Protestants and Catholics began to fight each other and the Bohemian Army was destroyed in the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620. This began Prague ‘s Catholic Reformation.
The 17 th Century was the Golden Age of Jewish Prague. At one point the Jewish community in Prague may have been the largest community in the world. Under the reign of Maria Theresa, however, many Jews were forced to leave the city. She allowed their return in 1748 and in 1848 the Jewish Ghetto was opened. The original Jewish Quarter had been formed to make living on the Jewish easier. Today, the Jewish Quarter holds many of the original remains of the Jewish Ghetto. Many Jews died during World War II and were forced to leave the country.
This is just a small fragment of information on the history of Prague , however, many of the sights you see today in Prague reflect back on these historical moments and attributes.