The history of the city was primarily shaped by the country’s rulers, and precisely because of these rulers the inhabitants of Prague lived through both fame and suffering. In the course of history the city became progressively disengaged from the seat of power and lived its own life. Even in the 19th Century the city proved to be less dependent on the power of state, and even if not favoured by royalty, it became a big city. The tangible history of Prague is proof of the vitality of its inhabitants. But there are also hundreds of legends and myths. Some of them are very similar to the legends of other European peoples, while others are unique.
In Prague you meet history at every step, but it is not dead, it is the foundation for future life. Historical parallels can also be found, proof that history repeats itself, once as a tragedy, another time as a farce.
There is knowledge of a settlement on the site of Prague from as early as the late Stone Age. Archaeological discoveries are proof of this. What drew people to the place where the metropolis now stands can only be guessed, it was certainly the river, the rich game, maybe even something ineffable that attracts people to the city to this day. The first real nation – the Celts, also found Prague a good place to live. The Slavonian people, who appeared in the Czech lands some time during the 6th Century, gave the city its shape for the next thousand years. The town which started to grow in the early Middle Ages on the site of hill-forts located along the Vltava river, gradually became the seat of princes, and the royal seat. The castle, which was started approximately between 880 and 890 ad, was the base of the seat for rulers who came to Prague from Levý Hradec (10km North-West). The establishment of a Bishopric in 973 confirmed Prague to be not only a city of secular power but also of spiritual leadership. At the end of the Přemysl reign, the house of Luxembourg came to the Czech throne. Charles IV then elevated Prague to the status of Capital of the whole Empire. Prague’s fame began to touch the stars, as Libuše foretold. When Jan Hus was burned to death, a wave of resistance arose which proved the strength of the Czech people as warriors, but did very little to help the city. It took a long time for the city to get over the Hussite wars but, thanks to its inhabitants, it began to grow again. The next peak was the era of Rudolph II. As with Charles IV, Emperor Rudolph also drew many artists, philosophers and scientists to the city. Catastrophe, in the form of the defeat of the Bohemian nobility at the battle of Bílá Hora, had an impact on Prague as the city fell out of favour with the ruling Habsburgs. Even though the people of Prague proved themselves in battle against the Swedes, and thanks to their bravery the Prague emblem was “redeemed”, nothing could change the fact that Prague remained a provincial city for a long time.
In the end the people of Prague realized, as they had done several other times in their history, that they had to help themselves. The whole 19th century was notable for their endeavour to create a city at the forefront of development. In the end, with a little exaggeration, Prague “swept aside” Vienna thanks to its economic success, and the independent Czechoslovakia had a capital city which could confidently compete with other European cities.
To this day Prague is at the forefront of development. Even now a significant proportion of the nation’s wealth emanates from Prague, and the city is often taken as a synonym for the whole Czech Republic. Indeed, the history of the city proves this in specific events.