History of The World: Prague

Prague has an extremely vibrant and varying history from its 1,200 year existence. The city has experienced periods of great prosperity, as well as extreme poverty and deprivation. Being a celtic settlement since the B.C’s, Prague didn’t see any permanent buildings until the creation of Prague castle in the 800’s A.D. Beginning in the 14th century Prague became the cultural and political center of Bohemia. Prague began to see great prosperity throughout the Hapsburg era in the 16th century, which elevated the city to the capital of European culture at this time. Yet, as with any great city, her fortunes saw dark days and for the next couple hundred years Prague saw a devastating mixture or war, plague, political dissent, revolution, and fire (the most devastating of which happened in 1689 which was on par with the great London fire of 1666). But the city found its feet again and began to proper in the 18th century. By the late 19th century the city had transformed from a predominantly German speaking populace into a Czech one, with the influx of Bohemian migrants and cultural assimilation.

WWI, which ended the Austro-Hungarian Empire, saw the creation of Czechoslovakia with Prague as its new capital. During WWII the city was occupied by Hitler and declared a protectorate, however the people were defiant (which is typical of the Czech resolve) and fought back, which saw the assassination of one of Nazi Germany’s most powerful men- Reinhard Heydrich. Remarkably the city saw little overall damage compared to other European cities as a result of the war. After WWII most of the German population fled and the city came under the control of the Soviet Union. At the outset the Russians were greeted with praise, but it was not to last. True to their character, the Czech’s were defiant and resisted Soviet control over their freedoms and fought underground campaigns against the regime (including the famous Lenon Wall which I will discuss later on). In 1993 Czechoslovakia split and two states were formed; the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague became the capitol of the newly formed Czech Republic and remains the cultural and political hub of the country.
That was just a very brief overview of the city’s history, in reality the city’s history is much more complicated with a complex web of cultural, political, and social entanglements which make any true coherent account impossible.

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