Prague (pronounced /ˈprɑːɡ/; Czech: Praha pronounced [ˈpraɦa] is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Nicknames for Prague have included Praga mater urbium/Praha matka měst (”Prague – Mother of Cities”) in Latin/Czech, Stověžatá Praha (”City of a Hundred Spires”) in Czech or Zlaté město/Goldene Stadt (”Golden City”) in Czech/.
Situated on the Vltava River in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural and economic centre of the Czech state for more than 1,100 years. For many decades during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was the permanent seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. At the present time the city proper is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million.
Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.1 million international visitors annually, as of 2009.Prague is classified as an alpha- world city.
The name Prague comes from an old Slavic root, praga, which means “ford”, referring to the city’s origin at a crossing of the Vltava River. The native name of the city, Praha, is also related to the modern word práh (threshold). A legendary etymology connects the name of the city with duchess Libuše, prophetess and a wife of mythical founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. She is said to have ordered “the city to be built where a man hews a threshold of his house”.
Czech práh shall be understood here as to be in the river, rapids or cataract: its edge as a passage to the other riverside. Contrarily, although there are a few weirs nowadays, there was not discovered any such geological threshold in the river under the Prague Castle. Thus some derive the name Praha from the stone of the hill, where the original castle was built: na prazě, the original term for shale rock. (In those days, there were forests around the castle, on the nine hills of the future city: the Old Town on the other riverbank as well as the Lesser Town underneath the castle appeared later.)
The history of Prague spans thousands of years, during which time the city grew from a castle known as Vyšehrad to the multicultural capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe’s (and the world’s) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world’s most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern