Surrounded by ancient forests and rugged green mountains, the Czech Republic is a mysterious land of gothic castles and lost-in-time medieval towns. Poised at the heart of Europe, it occupies a cultural crossroads, historically drawing influence from both east and west. Today, the capital, Prague, boasts centuries of diverse cultural input and is one of the most architecturally sublime cities in the world. The fact that it has survived centuries of European warfare unscathed is a testament to its fortitude.
Despite its profusion of historic sites, the republic in its current form dates to just 1993 and its state lines roughly correspond to two ancient Kingdoms: Bohemia in the west, and in the east, the wilder, less industrialised Kingdom of Moravia. Historically, both realms enjoyed significant prosperity and enlightenment with Prague of Bohemia serving as the seat of power for Charles IV and the Holy Roman Empire and the majority of the city’s most elegant architecture dates to his rule.
More recently, in the modern era, the Soviet Union transformed Czechoslovakia into a Soviet satellite state and added shades of grey to its urban spaces – for better or worse, high density concrete towers are now a feature of most Central European cities. Fortunately, the Czech people, wonderfully anarchic and behold to none, were not to be kept down. In 1989, the Velvet revolution peacefully deposed the Communist Government and ushered in a new era of democracy.