While archeologists have found evidence of a prehistoric settlement in what is today the Czech Republic, recorded history began in the classical area, when Celtics migrated through the land. By the 1st century BC, the Marcomanni and Quadi people, two Germanic tribes, had settled in the region. They moved out around the 5th century, allowing the Slavic people from the Black Sea-Carpathian region to settle in the land as they were pushed out of their lands by the Huns, Avars and other Siberian groups.
It was late in the 9th century AD that the Bohemian or Czech state emerged. The Premyslid dynasty united the people, and the Kingdom of Bohemia became the only kingdom to be part of the Holy Roman Empire. The last Premyslid king was murdered in 1306, sparking a serious of wars that eventually gave control of Bohemia to the House of Luxembourg.
During the Luxembourg dynasty, King Charles IV became not only the king of Bohemia, but also the Holy Roman Emperor. This ushered in the Golden Age of Czech history, a time when bridges, cities, churches, castles and universities were built throughout the country. Luxembourg’s rule ended when religious and social reformer Jan Hus encouraged people to push their way out from under the rule of the Catholic Church. Hus was burned at the stake for his teachings, but his followers forged on, pushing out Rome and converting 90 percent of the population to their beliefs.
Bohemia returned to the Holy Roman Empire with the House of Habsburg in 1526. In 1618, a rebellion against the Habsburgs sparked the Thirty Years’ War. At the end of the war, the people were forced to re-embrace Catholicism.
Throughout the Dark Ages, the people of the Czech lands suffered greatly from war and famine. Catholicism was, by law, the religion of the land during this time. When the Holy Roman Empire fell, Bohemia was annexed into Austria, and later became part of Austria-Hungary. The Revolution of 1848 brought an absolute monarchy under Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria, but the Czech people still did not have their own land.
It was not until the end of World War I that land was given to these people as well as the Slavic people who lived in the same area, creating the land of Czechoslovakia from parts of Hungary and Bohemia. This was a unitary state and the only democracy on the continent at the time. However, economic struggles made the country ripe for picking when Hitler came on the scene. Germany took over, but the Nazi violence was not welcome. When Hitler started executing citizens by the hundreds, sending even more to concentration camps and prisons, the Czech people resisted. German occupation ended in 1945 when the Soviets, Americans and soldiers from Prague came to the rescue.
Throughout the course of the war, the Soviet Union regularly came to the help of the Czech people, eventually helping them expel the last Germans from the country. This created a favorable attitude towards Communism, and when the war was over, the Communist party gradually took control through elections and militia battles.
Communism controlled the country with an iron grasp until 1989, when a peaceful revolution created a liberal democracy. During this time, the Slovak people grew stronger, eventually pushing for their own independence, which came in a peaceful split of the country into two distinct countries in 1993. Today, what was once Czechoslovakia is now two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
- The Czech people are highly educated. Approximately 90 percent of the population has completed at least secondary education, the highest percentage in the European Union.
- The Czech and Slovak people have their own dialects, but most people living in these two countries can understand both equally.
- Today, the Czech Republic is the second richest country in Easter Europe. Only Slovenia has a higher GDP. Interestingly, the GPD of Prague is twice that of the nation on average.
- The people of Czech Republic are primarily Slavic, but most have some German ancestry in their lineage as well, due to the area’s 1,000 years as part of the Holy Roman and Austrian Empires.
- The people of the Czech Republic are one of the least religious in Europe, in spite of the number of churches the country boasts.
- Czech Republic is almost entirely surrounded by mountains.
- The country has over 2,000 castles and castle ruins, which is one of the highest densities in the world.
- Founded in 1348, the Charles University in Prague is one of the oldest in Eastern Europe. It is also one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world.
- Czech Republic’s spa cities are known around the world for their excellence, and people from many areas travel to Czech Republic primarily to visit these spas.
- For Christmas dinner, most Czechs enjoy carp, but only after it spends a few hours swimming in the family’s bathtub.
- Czechs are the world’s largest per capita beer drinkers, a fact that the local population is proud of. You will not see many meals served without beer.
- Adrspach-Teplice Rocks – These unique sandstone formations include spindles and spires and look almost like a small town.
- Prague – The capital city has much to offer the visitor, with rich history and a vibrant nightlife.
- Marianske Lazne – One of the Czech Republic’s most popular spa towns, you will be surrounded by the architecture of the neoclassical period during your visit.
- Plzen – This is the town to visit if you want to enjoy an extensive variety of Pilsner Beer.
- Olomouc – The beautiful architecture in Olomouc is complemented by the fact that relatively few tourists visit this charming city.
- Cesky Krumlov – This beautiful medieval town has one of the country’s most popular castles.
- Telc – Take a step back to the time of the Renaissance when you visit this beautiful and historic town. The town square will be a highlight of your visit.
- Ceske Budejovice – Another brewery town, this one boasts a brewery that dates back to the 13th century.
- Macocah Caves – Located north of Brno, these caves offer stunning views of underground formations, and you’ll end your tour with a boat ride on an underground river.
- Battle of Austerlitz – This historic site was where one of the most important battles of 19th century European history occurred.
How to Get Cash
- Euros are not widely accepted in Czech Republic, but may be accepted in major stores. Otherwise, you will want to change your money to the koruna.
- Find a reputable currency exchange company, and do not exchange money on the street. Banks can also be shady in Prague, charging prices that are too high. However, be cautious of the small exchange kiosks, which may try to give you a poor rate. Know the rate before you exchange, and make sure you are getting a fair rate.
- Traveler’s checks are accepted at currency exchange locations in Czech Republic.
- The ATMs, which are common throughout the country, are the best place to get your money exchanged and be certain you are getting a fair rate. Be prepared for some bank fees when using the ATM.
- Most stores in Czech Republic accept Visa and MasterCard.
- If you find yourself in an emergency situation, you can have money transferred to you via a Western Union or similar service, but this is the most expensive way to get cash in Czech Republic.
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