The Czech Republic is one of the most stable and prosperous post-Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe, although this wasn’t always the case. When former Czechoslovakia fell under Soviet rule, there was harsh repression, until the “Velvet Divorce” in 1993. Velvet means “peaceful” and divorce signifies its transition into two countries, when Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This peaceful transition was very different from the “violent” revolutions that occurred in other parts of the former Soviet Union.
The word “Bohemian” has been used in conjunction with the Czechs; this is because the former Kingdom of Bohemia was mostly located in the territory of the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is landlocked between Germany, Poland, Austria, and Slovakia. The national language is Czech but other languages are spoken as well, like German and even English, especially among the younger generation. The currency is the Czech Crown (CZK), and all in all, the Czech Republic is very affordable compared to its Western European neighbors.
Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and is full of old world charm. With cobblestone streets and church steeples everywhere, its no wonder it’s called “The City of 100 Spires.” Prague lies on the banks of the Vltava River and is dotted with many museums, buildings, and bridges. The beautiful Charles Bridge is great for strolling day and night, and has magnificent views of the Europe’s largest castle, Prague Castle. Prague’s Old Town Square is Prague’s historical center and home to the Astronomical Clock.
Brno is the second largest city after Prague, the Czech Republic’s capital city, and is considered the economic, social, and cultural centre of Moravia. Spilberk Castle and an early Gothic palace still reside along the city skyline. Awarded the municipal status from as early as 1243 by King Wenceslas I, Brno hosts historic sightseeing for merely every traveler including medieval castles, cathedrals, and crypts. Landmarks such as the Villa Tugendhat, serve as an example for modern architecture worldwide.
Cesky Krumlov is a medieval town and is the first city in the Czech Republic to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the times of communism, the town was dilapidated, but in the ‘90s it was transformed into a place of charming beauty. In 2002, a terrible flood from the Vltava River destroyed the town but a year later all the damage was undone. This town deserves some quality time; the quiet streets and the castle lit-up at night are sure to be an enjoyable time.
Karlovy Vary is a spa town founded in 1350 Czech King Charles IV, which lies at the river Tepla’ (meaning “warm”). Baroque and art nouveau architecture surround the city and many representatives of the world film industry have come here as guests of the International Film Festival held every July. Some famous visitors include: Beethoven, Mozart, and Casanova.
Telč is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Czech Republic and its main square is among the most photographed. The historic centre was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992 for preservation of its chateau and town square. Three large ponds surround the historic center and boating and hiking are fun things to do. With a small population of approximately 6,000 people, it has a very easy going pace, perfect for exploring.
A Czech meal often starts with soup (polévka). Some popular Czech soups include garlic, sauerkraut, potato, and even chicken noodle. The main course (hlavní chod), consists of meat such as chicken or pork and a side dish like rice, dumplings, or a potato. Desserts (moučníky) come in all varieties and are very heavy and fatty due to all the butter and whipped cream that is commonly used. Crepes, Medovnik (honey cake), and apple strudel are a few delights of the Czechs.
It’s a fact that the Czechs are some of the biggest beer drinkers in the world and so it is not uncommon at all to accompany your meal with a beer (pivo). Other choices for beverages include mineral water, tea with sugar and lemon, or coffee with or without milk or cream.
Due to the Czech Republic’s location, studying abroad here presents a great opportunity for a well-rounded cultural education. Because it is also quite affordable, traveling to other countries like Austria, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, and the rest of Europe, gives the savvy student total access to unlimited cultures, traditions, food, and fun.
A variety of subjects such as photography, film production, Jewish and European studies, and many more can be studied here in the Czech Republic. A few universities that host study abroad exchange programs are Charles University, Naropa University, Anglo-American University, and Masaryk University. Whether it be to study, intern, or teach in any subject area for a semester, year, or even just for a summer, the Czech Republic has a diverse range of undergraduate and graduate options to consider.
From an academic perspective, the Czech Republic offers over a dozen universities for foreign study. Charles University, which is located in Prague, is regarded around the world as a top-notch institution, but there are many other good universities in the country.
The word “robot” comes from the Czech language
The Czech Republic has the highest density of castles in the world
Jaromir Jagr, a professional ice hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins was born in Czechoslovakia
Prague is farther to the west than Vienna
The soft contact lens was invented in Czechoslovakia in 1961 by Otto Wichterle
This post was submitted by Anastasia Diamantis.