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Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Regime: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic

Area: 78 866 km2

Population: 10 538 275 (2014)

Currency: Czech koruna (CZK)

Time Zone: GMT +1 (winter) / GMT +2 (summer)

Official language: Czech

Religion: agnostic

Calling Code: +420

GDP (PPP per capita): $ 30 895

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Top destinations 

Prague

pragueNot only is this the capital of the Czech Republic, it also happens to be the largest and most culturally rich. With architecture that tells stories of the time when it was the Roman capital, as well as the capital of Bohemia. This grand city has a mix of styles from the Gothic and Renaissance eras and spans many centuries with its cathedrals, vibrantly coloured building and impressive castles. On the more modern side museums, art galleries and theatres provide all the culture you can take it before you spend the night in one of the many restaurants or bars.

 

Cesky Krumlov

ceskyStreet performers, UNESCO World heritage sites, quant cobblestone streets and brightly coloured facades all reside in the shadow of the large Bohemian Castle in Cesky Krumlov. Historically n important town in terms of trade, this town on the banks of the Vltava river has barely changed since the 18th century, which allows you to travel back in time while wandering around shops and restaurant of this medieval town.

 

Kutna Hora

kutna horaOriginally a prospering town thanks to the silver that was found in the surrounding hills. Kutna Hora began as a Bohemian monetary, later became the seat of Wenceslas II’s royal mint, was devastated by the fires of 1770 and is today on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with its buildings of gothic architecture that have been almost outstandingly preserved. The churches, Sone Haus museum, Italian court and the bone house, or Ossuary, all make this a destination not to be miss.

 

Karlovy Vary

Karlovy_Vary_CzechSince the 14th century, when the hot springs were discovered by King Charles IV Karlovy Vary and its naturally heated waters have been known for their healing powers. Today the numerous spas and wellness centres cater to many in the hopes of eliminating their health problems. Apart from the relaxing spas and healing waters, Karlovy Vary is surrounded by hills perfect for hiking and an afternoon at one of the many riverside cafés can be as beneficial as a day in a sauna.

 

Telc

telcGothic houses located on the top of a hill surrounded by ponds and oozing with culture. This town was once a well-kept secret, but in recent years has made its way onto the to-do list of many tourists. From the town square to the castles and churches, Telc makes you feel like acharacter in a fairy tale, except that there are no evil witches.

 

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Weather/ When to leave:

You’re planning on visiting a European country; this means pretty short, hot summers and winters that make you dress up like the Michelin man. For traveling spring and autumn are the best times of year to visit due to the clear, and relatively warm weather. Included in this pleasant weather is the amount of colour that is on show, whether it’s the new flowers of spring or the warm colours of the changing foliage that autumn brings, the countryside puts on an amazing spectacle.

 

History/culture:

history

From part of the Bohemian kingdom to imperial capital of the Romans, the Czech Republic has been influenced by many cultures. The Germans were there, the Austrians rules the country for 300 years and then there was Czechoslovakia. Finally in 1993 the Czech Republic was born through the separation of Czechoslovakia into two separate independent countries, today known as the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

 

Arts:

If you have even found in exquisite piece of art glass or crystal that was individually mouth blown, chances are it came from the Czech Republic. But it is far from being a one trick pony, with world renowned artist I n many disciplines ranging from architecture and literature to graphic design and video game creation. A trip to the National gallery in Prague houses the largest collection or art in the Czech Republic displaying pieces such as the Slav epic by Alphonse Mucha and many more.

 

Religion:

The Czech Republic comes in third place in terms of the least religious countries in the world, with its people being described as being tolerant and indifferent towards religion. This was not always the case, and up until the First World War more that 90% of the population following Christianity. The change was in part due to the anti-Austrian and anticlerical mass movement, which began after the war.

 

Cuisine:

Sausages, meat, pancakes, cream and chocolates. A menu in the Czech Republic has something for everyone, and you need only grab one of their world renowned beers and you’ll realise some food seems like a good idea. If beer doesn’t get you all that exited the Moravian wines on offer date back to the middle ages and go down just as well.

Dishes to try:

  • Vepřo knedlo zelo – roast pork with bread dumplings accompanied by sauerkraut
  • Koleno – An oversized roast pork knee/knuckle that is often marinated in beer
  • Ovocné knedlíky – dumpling filled with fresh fruit (strawberries, apricots, plums, etc.)
  • Bramboráky – potato pancakes, simple and amazing

 

Places not to miss:

Prague Castle

prague castleThe fairy-tale fortress known as Pražský hrad, or simply hrad, covers an area of more than seven football fields and is filled with enough art and culture to get lost in the many spires, towers and palaces. Officially the largest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness, hrad has always been the seat of the monarchs and many of these have modified the castle resulting in many style of architecture that mix together to create a timeline of the fortress.

 

Charles Bridge

charles bridgeWhether is walking across the bridge or looking at from the towers, the Charles Bridge with its baroque statues is a sight to behold. Originally there was the Judith Bridge, but a rather violent flood reduced it to a single arch. This lack of a crossing prompted the creation of the Stone Bridge, as it was originally called. A carved stone head at the end of the bridge, known as the bearded man or Bradáč, is a flood marker used in medieval times to warn the people of Prague when it was time to leave your house and find higher ground.

 

Cathedral of St Peter and Paul

st peeter and paulOn top of the Petrov hill in the centre of Brno sits a Baroque style cathedral that reaches almost 100 meters into the sky. History tells a story of how the citizens of Brno outsmarted the Swedes, who were attacking the town, by ringing the church bells an hour early. This was due to an agreement with the attackers that should they not succeed in taking the city before midday, the attack would be cancelled. To this day the ringing of the bells that mark 12 noon takes place at 11AM.

 

Český Krumlov Castle

cesky castleA world heritage monument and home to noble families, the State Castle on situated on the rock promontory on the banks of the Vltava River in the town of Český Krumlov is one of the most important historic sight in central Europe. The castle is surrounded by a complex of forty buildings, palaces and a castle park that spans seven hectares.

 

Bone Collections

bone collectionsWith family coat of arms mage from pelvises and shoulder blades of skulls and other bones made into shapes such as hearts or anchors, the ossuaries of the Czech Republic are a rather unique attraction. Many of the towns have their own ossuary/catacomb/mummy collections with those of Kutná Hora and Brno standing out as the most impressive.

 

Things to do:

things to do

The Czech Republic is well known for its culture and night life, with days spent wandering through ancient castles and nights out that vary from bar to bar. If nightclubs aren’t really your thing, and a tour of a brewery doesn’t sound much better, the Czech countryside is perfect for hiking or cycling with many spectacular views.

Any trip to the Czech Republic, however, has to include at least one classical concert. From the beauty of the music halls to the experience of the live event itself, these spectacles take place in churches, castles and other ancient buildings and should not be missed.

Festivals:

  • Beltine Festival of Celtic Culture – Bohemia (April)
  • Pálení čarodějnic (Burning of the witches) (April)
  • United Islands of Prague Festival – Prague (June)
  • Summer Folk Dance Weekend – Tabor (August)
  • Harvest Festival – Posviceni before the harvest, Obzinky after the harvest

 

Essential information:

Passport and Visa:

Holders of passports from the UK and other EU counties, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland do not require a visa in order to enter the Czech Republic.

Other passports form countries such as Albania, Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macedonia, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Christopher & Nevis, Salvador, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, USA, Uruguay, Vatican and Venezuela can enter without a visa for up to 90 days.

All passports used to enter the country must be valid for a minimum of 90 days after you leave the Czech Republic.

 

Transport:

The Czech Republic has all the normal trains, buses, trams and metro systems, which makes getting around relatively easy since it is also affordable and reliable. Tickets for single journeys can be purchased, but if you are staying for a longer period of time, the travel passes can be very advantageous. Getting in between different town can be accomplished through the use of the rail network. Rychlík or Spěšný trains are faster, but only stop at the major towns, while Osobnni trains will stop at all small stations while travelling at a slower speed.

 

Health and safety:        

The Czech Republic does not require any special vaccinations, although you should check that you are up to date with your routine vaccinations.

As a country that receives many tourists each year, pickpockets and the like can be found. Certain tourist attractions such as the Charles Bridge are often very crowded and make the job a lot easier for thieves.

After the splitting of Czechoslovakia, Slovcakia started using the Euro while the Czech Republic uck to the Koruna. Many tourists have assumed that euros would be accepted, but this is not the case.

Useful numbers:

  • Along with the European emergency number (112),
  • Fire brigade: 150
  • Ambulance: 155
  • Metropolitan police: 156
  • Police: 158

Electricity:

powerThe Czech Republic uses the standard socket type that is found in Europe. Meaning plug types E, C and F will work. The sockets supply the electricity at 230volts and 50hertz.

 

 

 

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