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Prague (Czech: Praha) is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It is situated on the Vltava river in central Bohemia, with a population of 1.2 million people. Prague was founded in the 9th century, and soon became the seat of the kings of Bohemia. The city flourished during the 14th century reign of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town, the Charles Bridge, Saint Vitus Cathedral which is the oldest gothic cathedral in central Europe which is actually inside the Castle, and the Charles University, the oldest university in central Europe. Prague was by then the third-largest city in Europe.
Prague has become one the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It has numerous old buildings, many with beautiful murals on them. It possesses one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical to modern style. Prague is a traditional cultural centre of Europe where many cultural events take place. There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and clubs around the city. Prague also hosts film festivals, music festivals, writer’s festival, hundreds of exhibitions and fashion shows every year.
The Czech Republic is a country with a mild climate with warm, sometimes humid, summers and cold winters. The average temperature in summer is 24 °C (74 °F). During the night temperatures can fall to 15 °C (46 °F).
The daily temperature during winter lies around the freezing point and falls at night to –4 °C (26 °F). January and February are the coldest months. Then the temperature lies around –5 °C (23 °F). Nevertheless snow is rare in Prague during winter. Spring and summer tend to be the sunniest months, the period between May and August is the rainiest. Tourist season in Prague is during the whole year but the nicest time is during spring, when all the gardens of the city stand in full bloom.
The official language in Prague is Czech but a lot of people also speak English, especially in the touristy places.
The currency used in the Czech Republic is Czech Koruny (koruna) and 100 heller. Notes come in dominations of Kc 20, Kc 50, Kc 100, Kc 200, Kc 500, Kc 1000, Kc 2000 and Kc 5000 and coins are available at the amount of Kc 1, Kc 2, Kc 5, Kc 10, Kc 20 and Kc 50. The best option to change money is a bank as they don’t charge a high fee as exchange offices and hotels. € 1 = Kc 33. Credit cards are accepted by banks, hotels and numerous restaurants and shops.
A tax of 22% is put on most of the products and services in the Czech Republic. In order to claim the tax back, visitors have to export the purchased product within 30 days and present a receipt in the departing terminal (North terminal) at the airport Ruzyne to the Duty Free Office of the Customs Authority. You will receive the money at the cashier of the Thomas Cook office, in the shop for products of the Czech Republic in section A or at the VAT MAX at the transfer counter of the Menzies Aviations Group. In the South terminal you can have your money refunded in the Free Shop by Global Refund.
Things for personal usage as well as presents up to a value of Kc 3000 can be imported and exported without taxation. Without taxes are also 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, 1 litre spirituous beverages or 2 litre of wine. At the border you can get a brochure stating which goods cannot be exported. The checks are not that strict but if you are caught they will not only confiscate your goods but also fine you with a certain amount of money. If you want to buy antiques or rare artefacts, please inform yourself directly at the customs authority. The office is at the central station, Wilsonova 80, Tel.: +42 (0) 24221905.
If you call Prague from abroad you have to dial +42 for the Czech Republic and then 2 for Prague itself. The telephone network in the city is still not up to date with international standards. That is why the change of telephone numbers still continues. Public phones accept coins as well as telephone cards which can be purchased at the post office or any kiosk.
Internet cafés are widely spread in the city. People who don’t have their own laptop can use the machines that are offered by the cafés. Most of the time the internet cafés are also usual cafés where you can have a drink or two while checking your emails. A good internet café in Prague is for example “The Globe” which is a bookshop, an internet café and a café in one.
The opening times of shops are different. Most of the shops are open from Monday to Friday 8 am – 10 am and 5 pm – 8 pm and Saturday from 10 am – 2 pm. The shops and department stores that are in the touristy areas are open more often, also on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. In nearly every part of the city there are grocery stores that are open the whole day. On National Holidays all shops are closed.
1.January: New Year
1. May: Labour Day
8. May. Day of Deliverance
5. July: Day of the Slavic apostle Kyrill und Method
6. July: Johannes-Hus Day
28. October: Day of State Foundation
17. November Day of Fight for Freedom and Democracy
25. and 26. December: Christmas
Since Prague’s rebirth in the 1990’s the city attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. But beware when tourists stream in other “businesses” flourish as well. Among them are pickpockets, thieves and so called “businessman”. Pick pocketing is a very common crime in Prague. So better leave all important documents at the hotel and don’t carry a lot of cash with you. Car breaking ins are also a leading property crime in the Czech Republic. Also be aware of taxi drivers who are known for their corruptness and rude treatment. Apart from this Prague is a relatively safe city, the rate of violence is low and most of the time it is safe to walk trough town even in the night. Nevertheless, be careful on Wenceslas Square at night as their have been cases of “love-seekers” being robbed of all their money.
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