Prague © Roman Boed
The Czech Republic's capital and international showpiece, Prague, is one of the most popular city-break destinations in Europe. Its attraction lies primarily in the physical beauty of the city, which boasts 600 years of architecture amazingly untouched by time. Prague's UNESCO-listed historic centre is like a colossal outdoor museum which makes travellers feel like they're stepping into a Gothic fairy-tale. In the 14th century, Prague enjoyed the reputation of being one of the most important cities in Europe, only to disappear completely behind the Iron Curtain after the Second World War. Since the 1989 Velvet Revolution and the end of Communism, Prague has thrown off the years of repression with alacrity and is returning to its earlier grandeur, enticing tourists with its romantic atmosphere. In recent years, Prague has also become a popular weekend destination for stag and hen party groups, who are attracted by the lively nightlife, world-famous beer, and low prices. All in all, the city is now famous among lively young partygoers and refined cultural tourists alike. The historical centre of the city is compact and its attractions are all within easy reach on foot. The core comprises the Castle District (Hradeany) west of the River Vltava, and the Old and New Town (Stare Mesto and Nove Mesto) to the east. They're joined by the famous Charles Bridge. Situated on the hill overlooking the city, the Castle District incorporates the main attractions, including the Castle itself and the Cathedral. The Old Town is a maze of alleyways, cobbled streets and passages winding their way towards the beautiful Old Town Square, Staromestske Namesti. The old Jewish Quarter, Josefov Ghetto, is also enclosed within the Old Town. The New Town, by contrast, is modern and has been laid out in wide boulevards, most famously Wenceslas Square: the fashionable shopping boulevard leading up to the foot of the grand National Gallery. The city's performing arts scene also features high on the list of things to do in Prague, with world-class classical music concerts, opera and ballet, as well as many art galleries around the city. This beautiful city, a 'symphony in stone', built along the river and on the surrounding hills, has never ceased to capture the hearts and imagination of visitors, painters, photographers and poets.