Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic with a population of about 1.3 million inhabitants. It lies 177 m above sea level. It covers an area of 496 square kilometres and the entire city consists of 10 administrative districts. The oldest parts are the Old Town, the Lesser Town, the New Town, Josefov, Hradčany and Vyšehrad.
While the Czech Republic is the heart of Europe, Prague is its soul. Situated in the fertile basin of the river Vltava Prague has always been a junction of European trade routes, attracting businessmen as well as artists since ancient times.
Hundreds of years of architectural development resulted in an exceptionally large collection of splendid buildings with a unique concentration of artistic treasures. The architectural styles merge in Prague in a singular way and the result is a city with a very special atmosphere. Romanesque monasteries, a Gothic cathedral, Renaissance palaces and gardens, Baroque churches, Classicist manors, Art Nouveau and Cubist structures, as well as contemporary architecture, which have recently won the prestigious award of Time magazine, Prague has all of it.
It is also home to a unique complex of Jewish monuments in the area of the former medieval ghetto. The unique relics surviving in the Jewish Town rank among the earliest in Europe. People of most religious beliefs would find their place of worship in the city. The most valuable part of the city centre was designated a protected zone in 1981 and in 1992 it was included in the list of UNESCO's world cultural heritage.
Although the narrow lanes of the Old Town and Mala Strana invite to romantic walks, Prague also has its modern facets. The choice of cultural events organized in Prague is so rich and varied that the city was nominated as one of the European Cities of Culture for the Year 2000. The city has 36 museums, 95 art galleries, 27 theatres and 20 concert halls. Important international events take place in Prague every year, including the Prague Spring Music Festival.
Parks, forests and sporting facilities offer relaxation to everybody. Botanical gardens, the zoo, observatories and the planetarium also welcome visitors. For longer breaks, there are nature reserves within and outside the city boundaries.