The Czech Republic was formed on January 1 1993, after the former state of Czecheslovakia peacefully dissolved into two constituent states: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Now ranked in third place on the list of most peaceful countries in Europe, the country has quickly developed its own sense of history and character, drawing on its ancient heritage (the Czech state was formed in the 9th century) as well as undergoing extensive regeneration to come into its own as an independent state. The country is made up of two regions, Moravia and Bohemia, themselves ancient territories since reclaimed to make up the new Republic. The country offers an intriguing mix on the one hand of fairytale charm, with an array of ancient castles and old town areas, and modern living with newly developed museums and galleries to cater for the surge in tourism to the area. Since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the Czech Republic has been one of the most visited countries in all of Europe.
The country’s capital city, Prague, has the unusual power to attract travellers at all times of year, in particular in winter when the snow lies over its domes and spires and the Christmas markets line the streets. Reigning over the region of Bohemia, this chocolate-box city is traditional and trendy; walk through the Old Town Square to the Astronomical Clock by day, cross the famous Charles Bridge at dusk, its parapets lined with baroque statues, and move into one of the city’s many bars in the evening for a glass of Czech lager or wine. Prague nightlife is vibrant and there are plenty of nightclubs, but if laid-back lounge is more your thing, try Bílý koníèek off the Old Town Square for some live jazz.
If a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle is what you’re looking for, then move out of the larger cities to one of the country’s famous spa towns. Karlovy Vary, Františkovy Láznì and Teplice are particularly popular. For a budget spa holiday without compromising on the quality, try Marianska Lazne and escape the crowds. And, if you’re more of an active traveller, there’s a big industry for outdoor sports here, too, with plenty of activities organised year-round. Zelezna Ruda has been steadily accumulating favourable reviews and mentions for its pistes; perfect if you want to ski but don’t fancy the crush in one of the larger European resorts. And in the off-peak season, there are plenty of hideaways all over the Czech Republic, particularly in the woodland areas, where the forests provide ample opportunity for rambling and wildlife-watching. The St George Forest, only an hour out of Prague, is perfect for a woodland hideaway in autumn, when the weather is still pleasant and the changing leaves are in their full glory. Who said holidays were the reserve of the summer months?
From rambling Bohemia to industrial Moravia, the Czech Republic is full of history. This is a land of stories: from its establishment as the state of Bohemia in the 9th century, to its place in the Habsburg monarchy, its time under German and Russian rule, and finally its emergence as a land of its own, the Czech Republic has a richly varied past, and a legacy that lives on even in its modern reincarnation. From the turrets of the Karlštejn Castle to the vineyards of Southern Moravia, each corner has its own story, and each is deserving of a visit that incorporates the full history of this European gem.
Last Edit by HT Helper on 5/09/2011 EDIT NOW >>