The modern history of Prague dates from the year 80. when it became the seat of the oldest Czech dynasty, Psemislovic, whose founder was Prince Borivoj.
The name of the city originates from the old Slavic word “Prah”, which means “the river pass”, most probably the Vltava River, in whose valley lies the largest part of Prague as it is today.
The Progress of Prague
According to historical data, the city has reached its greatest bloom during the reign of Emperor Charles IV. He built the Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, founded Charles University (the oldest university in Central Europe) and expanded the city by unifying various settlements in the “New City”.
Under his rule, in 1355, Prague became the capital of the empire.
From 1419. to 1434. the Husit Revolution was under the leadership of Jan Hus and Jan Zizek, national heroes. During this revolution, the people fought for their political rights.
In 1526, Prague was the seat of the Habsburg dynasty, but its inhabitants often raised rebellions against Habsburg and kept losing their political rights. Nevertheless, Prague was still the capital of culture and art.
Prussia occupied Prague in 1757, during the Seven Years’ War. In 1784, Emperor Joseph II connected the Old Town, the Lesser Town, the New Town and the Hradcany into one city, the capital, Prague. This marked the beginning of the economic development and the national revival of the Czech Republic. The peak of this process was in 1848 when the country was liberated.
On October 28th, 1918, Prague became the capital of Czechoslovakia, a country that emerged after the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Thomas G. Masaryk was the first president of Czechoslovakia.
Four years later, on January 1st, 1922, Prague gathered all 37 city units and became a modern metropolis.
History of Prague during and after the World War II
Hitler occupied Prague on March 15th, 1939, and the battle against the Nazi regime lasted more than six years. During that period, the Nazis closed the university and killed the “protector” – Reinhard Heidrich.
Prague was always a multi-ethnic city, but during the German occupation, a large number of Jews disappeared in the Holocaust. When the Communist Party came to power in 1948, a large number of citizens who were native German speakers were exiled by the famous “Benes Decrees”.
After the World War II, Prague transformed with building the good infrastructure, as well as the subway, many buildings, bridges. But still, Prague was behind the other metropolises.
The reformist, Aleksandar Dubcek, replaced the first secretary of the Communist Party, Antonin Novotny, in 1968. The Russians, who had total control over the country, were shocked by this event.
Dubcek wanted to turn Czechoslovakia into a social-democratic state. Yet, that was a major step away from the communist ideas at that time.
The people gave great support to the idea, but Moscow and the state leaders did not consent with this.
The pressure from the government was less intense day by day, the people gained more and more confidence, and finally, by the end of the 60s, there was a turnover that no one expected.
The Occupation of Prague
The Soviets, concerned about the situation in Czechoslovakia, shut down Dubcek’s party in August 1968. The Soviets believed that events from Czechoslovakia could extend to other communist countries.
In order to prevent the further expansion of events that happened in Czechoslovakia, the Soviets are sending 500,000 soldiers to extinguish the freedom that people gained.
With the tanks occupying Vaclav’s Square, Dubcek and his associates ate invited to Moscow where they were forced to cease their affiliations and start a different policy.
Upon returning from Moscow, Dubchek remains in power, but only as a marionette. His “puppetry” rule did not last long, and Gustav Husak replaced him in April 1969.
These events led to the great emigration of intellectuals and artists before the borders closed.
The Velvet Revolution
Because of the great dissatisfaction of citizens, on November 17th, 1989, the “Velvet Revolution” started. Mass demonstrations led to the collapse of communism and the establishment of democracy. Vaclav Havel was elected the President of the country the same year.
After all the turmoil in 1993, Czechoslovakia broke up and Prague became the capital of the Czech Republic.
In 2004, the Czech Republic became a member of the European Union.