History of Prague

History of Prague



History of Prague
Prague is the capital city of Czech Republic with the population of 1.4 million people (wider urban area around 2 million).
According to a few early historians, the city of Prague was founded by an ancient king Boyya (Boiia) who named it Bayonheim. Even Bohemia and neighboring Bavaria were named after it. By the 1st century BC, mostly Germanic tribes lived in this area. During the reign of the first Roman Imperator, Augustus Caesar, the name of the city was Maroboden after a Germanic ruler, Maroboduus.
According to Ptolemy (a writer from Alexandria), in the 2nd century the name of the city was Casurgis.
In the 5th century, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes moved westwards, while in the 6th century Slavic tribes settled in Central Europe and Prague as well.
Already in the 9th century, the city was called Praha (Prague) and this name stayed till this day.
By the year 800, there was a wooden fort in the area nowadays occupied by the Prague Castle, which marked the beginning of the development of the city. Over the years, this fort was enlarged and rebuilt with stone.
During the reign of Charles IV (1349-1378), a Holy Roman Emperor, Prague flourished like never before. He transformed Prague into an imperial capital and at that time it was the third largest European city, after Rome and Constantinople.
Under his reign, the construction of many important buildings started, which will transform Prague into a fascinating city. Charles IV laid the first stone for the construction of the Charles Bridge; he also started the construction of the Saint Vitus Cathedral, founded Charles University (the oldest university in central Europe) etc.

After the death of Charles IV, when his son (Wenceslaus IV) came to throne, a period of turmoil started.
The unrests started a few years after Jan Hus was burned at the stake in 1415, under the charge of being a heretic. Jan Hus was a priest and reformer who opposed the Catholic Church because he believed that papacy was corrupt. At that time, Pope John XXIII wanted to raise money against the rivaling pope Gregory XII by authorizing the sale of Indulgences (forgiveness of sins) in Bohemia. This practice enlarged the gap between Jan Hus and his followers on the one side (Hussits) and the papacy on the other. In 1419, the first defenestration (the act of throwing someone out of the window) happened. One of the Hussite priests led people to the New Town Hall in Prague. Somebody threw a stone from the Town Hall that infuriated the mob, which stormed the building and threw seven members of the city council out of the window. This action marked the beginning of the Hussite Wars. During these wars, the pope sent 5 crusades against the “Hussite heretics” each of which was unsuccessful. These wars ended in 1434, when the more moderate Hussite fractions defeated the more radical ones.

The tension between the Protestants (who feared that their rights were in jeopardy) and the Catholics grew over time, resulting in the second defenestration. Two Catholic Lord Regents where thrown out the window from the third floor of the Bohemian Chancellery building. This event led to the Battle of the White Mountain, in which the Czech army was crushed. This battle is considered the first battle of the 30-years-long war between the Protestants and the Catholics which consumed Europe. The 30-years-long war ended in 1648 with the peace of Westphalia.

After the First World War and the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia was created. Czechoslovakia was composed of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, both of which were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
During the Second World War, Prague was occupied by Nazi Germany and later liberated by the Red Army (3rd Shock Army).
After the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was under control of the Soviet Union. In 1989, followed by the protest of the “Velvet Revolutions”, the communist one-party regime resigned. In 1993, Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, having Prague become the capital of the newly formed Republic.

Did you know?

  • The name Prague was most probably derived from the Slavic word práh meaning a ford (a shallow river crossing), referring to the location of the city as a crossing of the Vltava River.
  • Prague is the fifth most visited touristic destination in Europe after, London, Paris, Istanbul and Rome. Annually it is visited by around 5.5 million people.
  • In 1713, a large outbreak of plague struck Prague, killing around 13,000 people.
  • One other act of defenestration happened in Prague. In 1948 Jan Masaryk, the son of Tomáš Masaryk (the first president of Czechoslovakia after the World War I), was found dead right beneath his bathroom window in the courtyard of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague. Even though the reports at that time claimed it was a suicide, many believed that he was murdered by the rising communist movement, and they characterized this event as the Third Defenestration. Only the third investigation in 1990 concluded that he was murdered.
  • According to some statistics, Prague has the lowest unemployment rate in the European Union.

Tourist destinations in Czech Republic:


Prague is a crown jewel of the Czech Republic, a city of towers, bridges, masterpieces of gothic architecture and of course Prague’s castle that for centuries overlooks the whole city. Many tourists become enchanted by the beauty of this city and decide to let go, to become a part of the fairytale, for which you just need a pinch of imagination. We tried to bring at least a piece of this fairytale closer to you through articles about all tourist sights, museums and other wonders of the city.

Discover Prague

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