Czech Republic

SHORT HISTORY OF LANDS OF THE CZECH CROWN

The Lands of the Czech Crown (Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia) have a thousand-year history. It is a result of a great mixture of various cultures and traditions of most different nations and tribes that from times immemorial have inhabited this place. The Celts were the first to come, then came German tribes and, at the beginning of the 6th century AD, came the Slavs. The Jews have also made up an important part of this variegated blend. Subsequently, in a greater number, they came to the area in the 10th century.On an old map which dates back to the 16th century, the European continent is shaped as a queen´s figure whose head is Spain, with the chest represented by France, one of the hands by Italy and a beautifully cut jewel, attached to the queen´s chest, by the Lands of the Czech Crown ("Bohemia").

Country name: Czech Republic
Czech flag: Red, white, blue
Population: 10.5 million
Land area: 78,866 sq km (30,450 sq mi)
European Union member: Yes
Euro currency in use: No
Capital: Prague; population 1.2 million
Official language: Czech
Geographical location: Central Europe
Neighboring countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland
Government: Parliamentary democracy with president as the head of state and prime minister as the head of government
Currency: Czech Crown (CZK)
Time zone: GMT+1, Daylight Savings Time observed
Religion: Atheist/Agnostic 59%, Roman Catholic 27%, Protestant 2%, Other 12%
Climate: Temperate.Cool to warm May - September (showers and thunderstormscommon), mostly chilly October, March and April (rain or snow possible), cold, cloudy and wet withsnow and freezing temperatures November -February; skiing December - March; averagemonthly temperatures
Voltage: 230 Volts/50 Hz
Country calling code: 420
Public holidays: January 1, May 1, May 8, July 5, July 6, September 28, October 28, November 17, December 24 - 26
Foreign languages spoken: English (younger generation), German (older generation); some Italian, French, Spanish
Travel documents: Passport required (includes citizens of EU member countries)
Freeway fees: A freeway pass (dálniční známka) is required. It can be purchased at gas stations and the post office.
Weekly pass - 250 Kč
Monthly pass - 350 Kč
Yearly pass - 1,200 Kč
Safety: Low rate of violent crime, medium rate of pickpocketing and car theft.
We take the liberty of recalling a few significant dates from the rich history of the Lands of the Czech Crown. The first state that existed on this territory was a confederation of Slavonic tribes established in the 6th century, where there is now Moravia, Bohemia, a part of Slovakia and a part of Bavaria. The state was ruled by a Frank merchant whose name was Samo. A few centuries later, the so-called "Samo´s Empire" was dismantled as a result of in-raids made by neighbouring tribes.In the 9th century, the "Great Moravian Empire" came into existence in the same area. Its centre was situated in what is now southern Moravia. During the existence of this state formation, the ruling prince summoned two Byzantine monks, Cyril and Methodius, who gained recognition for the development of Christian culture in this area. They even constructed a specific alphabet based on Greek letters, an alphabet that is used by certain eastern Slavonic countries even today, which is called "azbuka".After the break-up of the Great Moravian Empire, a new state formation began to develop in neighbouring Bohemia. The beginnings of the Bohemian state date back to the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th centuries, when the seat of the ruling Premyslid princes was removed to a place called PRAGUE (PRAHA) which was a strategic location, being situated on a bank of the Vltava river and at a crossroads of old trading paths stretching from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea. The Bohemian princes were oriented rather to the West, and they readopted Christianity from this area, leading to Czech culture being based on the Latin alphabet and its features being rather of the western type.The Princedom of Bohemia first became a kingdom in 1085. The then prince Vratislav II was named King of Bohemia even though at that time the title was not granted as hereditary.In 1158, the second Bohemian prince to become King of Bohemia was Vladislav II, and some fifty years later, in 1212, the powerful and feared Bohemian prince Premysl Otakar II obtained the title of King of Bohemia definitively, together with the crown of the Kingdom of Sicily.The following centuries saw the Kingdom of Bohemia change its borders, reaching from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, according to diplomatic abilities, advantageous marriages of its kings with princesses from neighbouring countries, or by dint of expansive wars waged with a view to gaining more land.

Undoubtedly, the greatest prosperity and territorial expansion of the Kingdom of Bohemia came in the 14th century under the rule of Charles IV, King of Bohemia, who even became Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the most powerful state in medieval Europe. At that time, his estate reached from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean. This vast territory was acquired by the wise ruler purely by means of marrying neighbouring princesses. This period is called "the Golden Period of Czech history". In this time, many beautiful gothic temples and secular edifices were built and, in 1348, Charles University, the oldest university in central Europe, was founded in Prague.

Another golden period in Czech history was the period under the rule of Rudolph II Habsburg (16th and 17th centuries). This well-read, art-loving ruler chose Prague as his imperial seat, so that the town changed into an important centre for the arts and sciences of its time.From 1526 to 1918, the Kingdom of Bohemia was a part of Austria-Hungary under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty.After World War One, in 1918, the Lands of the Czech Crown became independent and the so-called Czechoslovak Republic, which also included the whole of Slovakia and a part of Sub-Carpathian Ukraine, was established. Unfortunately, the young state did not last long. In the spring of 1939, the republic was invaded by the Nazis and was not liberated until the end of World War Two in 1945.From 1948, the country was ruled by the Soviet Union, even though, officially, it was an independent state. Various communist regimes took turns until the "Velvet Revolution" at the end of 1989, when the country regained its independence and became a democratic republic.In 1993, Slovakia separated from Czechoslovakia and an independent Slovak Republic came into existence.

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