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Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, has a rich history that spans several periods that have contributed to the city's rich cultural heritage, which can be seen in its many landmarks, museums, and galleries.
The area that is now Prague has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of human habitation in the area as far back as the Paleolithic era, around 500,000 years ago. In the Neolithic era, around 4,500 BCE, the first permanent settlements were established in the area. These settlements were part of the Linear Pottery culture, which was characterised by the use of pottery and agriculture.
Prague played an important role in the medieval history of Europe. In the 9th century, it became the seat of the Přemyslid dynasty, which ruled over the Czech lands for several centuries. The city grew in importance throughout the Middle Ages, becoming an important centre of trade and culture. In the 14th century, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV made Prague his imperial capital and oversaw a period of great prosperity and cultural growth. Many of Prague's most famous landmarks, including Charles Bridge and St. Vitus Cathedral, were constructed during this time.
The Renaissance was a time of tremendous intellectual and artistic growth in Europe, and Prague was no exception. In the 16th century, the city became a centre of humanism, with scholars and artists flocking to the city to study and create. Prague's most famous Renaissance figure was the astronomer Tycho Brahe, who worked for many years at the court of Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor. Rudolf was a great patron of the arts and sciences, and during his reign, Prague became one of the most important cultural centres in Europe.
The 18th century was a time of relative stability and prosperity for Prague. The city continued to be an important cultural and economic centre, and many notable landmarks were constructed during this time, including the National Theatre and the Clementinum Library. However, the city was also affected by the religious conflicts that were sweeping across Europe, and tensions between the Catholic and Protestant populations of the city were high.
The 19th century was a time of significant change and upheaval for Prague. In 1848, a wave of revolutions swept across Europe, and Prague was no exception. The city saw protests and uprisings against the ruling Habsburg monarchy, but these were ultimately suppressed. The city continued to grow and develop throughout the rest of the century, with new neighbourhoods and suburbs being built to accommodate the growing population. The city also played an important role in the cultural and intellectual movements of the time, with many writers, artists, and intellectuals making their homes in the city.
The 20th century was a tumultuous time for Prague, marked by political and social upheaval. During World War I, the city was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed at the end of the war. In 1918, Czechoslovakia was formed, and Prague became the capital of the new country. Prague Castle became the place for the first president of Czechoslovakia, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. The interwar period was marked by economic growth and cultural flourishing, but it was also a time of political tensions, with the rise of fascism and communism in Europe. After the war, Czechoslovakia was re-established as an independent state, and Sudeten Germans were thrown out and sent back to Germany and Austria.
During World War II, Prague was occupied by Nazi Germany, and many of the city's Jewish residents were sent to concentration camps. After the war, the city became part of the communist bloc and was subject to Soviet influence. The city saw protests and uprisings against the communist government in the 1960s and 1970s, but these were ultimately suppressed.
In 1989, after the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague, Czechoslovakia freed itself from communism and Soviet influence, thus making Czechoslovakia a democratic country. In January 1990, the first democratic elections were conducted, making Václav Havel the president. On 1st January 1993, Czechoslovakia was split into two independent countries, Slovakia and Czech Republic. Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic.
The Czechs’ relations with Germany and Austria in the year 2000 were tense due to the Czechs’ refusal to remove the Temelin nuclear power station in southern Bohemia. Also, the removal of German Sudetens after World War II, stripping them of their Czechoslovakian citizenship, remains an issue. Despite political apologies, German Sudetens are still prevented by law from re-claiming their property.
Václav Havel was elected as the first president of the Czech Republic in January 1993. Then again, in January 1998-2003, Vaclav Havel was re-elected as president by a margin of one vote.
Vaclav Klaus (right wing) became the second president in 2003 and was again re-elected in 2008.
In 1999, the Czech Republic joined NATO and was approved as a member of the European Union in 2002. On 1st May 2004, the European Union accepted the Czech Republic.
In 2002 many buildings and underground transport system got damaged due to extensive floods in Prague.
The Prague bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics was an unsuccessful bid. In 2009, Prague withdrew its name from bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the global recession.