Between Germany and that old ski heavyweight, Austria, the Czech Republic has found carved out a comfortable niche for itself in the heart of Europe. The Czech Republic has only existed as an independent country since the 1st January 1993, when ties to Russia were formally cut once and for all. The two countries still share many common traditions, and although Slovakia to the south is also an exciting travel destination, the Czech capital of Prague is a cultural phenomenon that even many of the well-established, traditional travel destinations struggle to compete with. Few places on earth can dish up the array of Gothic architecture that is to be found in the two halves of this stunning city that is divided by the graceful arches of Charles Bridge. High above the river lies Prague´s magnificent castle and palace, worth every step of the way up through the narrow, cobblestone streets of the old town with their many shops and restaurants.
Leaving its world-famous, Gothic architecture aside for a moment, (as well as the notoriously cheap but excellent beer), there are also plenty of treats for history buffs in a city such as Prague; The Spring Uprising of 1968 in Prague was one of the most prominent displays of rebellion against the Soviet Union by a satellite state. The inhabitants of what was then known as Czechoslovakia enjoyed their freedom from Soviet rule for just 4 months before the Soviet Union crushed the uprising. Today, however, the Czech Republic is once again free and is now a well-functioning democracy. Since it joined the EU in 2004, it has scored highly in a number of social and economic parameters. In this highly developed country the level of income is generally high. There is a thriving export industry based on services, manufacturing and innovation and it is also the 6th safest and most peaceful country in the world according to the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).
Poland´s second largest city after Prague is Brno, just an hour´s drive from the Slovakian border in the southern part of the Czech Republic. In an almost poetic contrast to Prague, Brno´s buildings are characterized by modern minimalism. With its almost 90,000 university student´s, this centrally-located city in the southern part of the Czech Republic cannot simply be dismissed as a less dynamic version of the country´s capital, a “Prague-light”, if you will. Despite the considerable contrast between the two, both have an airport as a quick glance at the map will confirm. So whether you choose to explore the charms of Prague´s Gothic streets, or are looking to party in Brno´s thriving nightlife, one needn´t rule out the other, as both are easy enough to get to. Our advice is to visit them both!
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