After the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Prague was named the capital of the new Czech Republic. The city grew to be an important cultural center of Europe and is now the sixth most visited city in Europe after London, Rome, Paris, Madrid and Berlin. The city suffered significantly less damage during World War II than many other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form, one of the main reasons why thousands of people visit Prague every year.
Visitors to Prague have a whole host of historic attractions to take in and enjoy. Perhaps the most scenic of all is the Charles Bridge that crosses the Vltava River, connecting Prague's Old Town to the Lesser Quarter, one of Prague's oldest boroughs, with a continuous alley of 30 baroque statues lining the bridge. At night the bridge offers quiet solitude, allowing visitors to take in the beautiful view of the Vltava and the areas either side of it – a direct contrast to the hustle and bustle of the bridge during the day, as kiosk owners, street artists and musicians compete for the attentions of tourists and residents crossing the bridge.
The Old Town also features an array of stunning attractions. The original place of settlement of Prague, it was separated from the outside by a semi-circular moat and wall before the expansion of the city in the 14th century. The moat and wall were dismantled soon after and are now covered by streets. Records dating back to 1100 estimate that the Old Town Square was the site of a market every Saturday and also large military gatherings.
Visitors to the area can enjoy the sights of the medieval Astronomical Clock. The clock features an astronomical dial representing the position of the sun and the moon in the sky as well as "The Walk of the Apostles", a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures. Many very reasonably priced bars, restaurants and shops can also be found in the Old Town, making it a popular destination for those who make the journey to Prague.
Perhaps the most awe inspiring sight Prague offers is Prague Castle, where Czech kings, Holy Roman emperors and the presidents of the Czech Republic have all had their offices, with the crown jewels of the Bohemia Kingdom also kept there. More impressive than the Castle itself is St. Louis Vitus Cathedral, which is contained within the Castle walls. One of, if not the most impressive examples of gothic architecture in the world, the cathedral was founded in the 14th century when the Prague bishopric was raised to archbishopric. St. Vitus Cathedral has many fascinating places for tourists to visit. From St. Wenceslas Chapel – where the relics of the saint are kept – to the tombs of many Bohemian Kings underneath the cathedral, this attraction is a treat for any history or architecture enthusiasts.
The Czech Republic has re-invented itself since since the days of Communist rule, with the country embracing tourists and much of Western culture as evidenced by the shops, restaurants and luxury hotels in Prague . Despite these changes, however, the most endearing aspect of Prague remains its history, illustrated by the stunning architecture and natural beauty of the city.