The Czech Republic
History and the present, yesterday’s events and tomorrow’s hopes stand shoulder to shoulder in this country in the center of Europe. Nature herself has endowed the Czech Lands with strong contours, their outlines molded into natural borders. The natural borders of the Czech Lands were described as early as in 1125 by the chronicler Kosmas in his „Chronicle of the Czech Lands”. The mountains around the country were aided in their protective role by the deep forests, through which led little known tracks to the mountain passes. The Czech Lands spread out these mountain ranges a land that the National Anthem lauds as a paradise on Earth. It is hardly surprising that the mythological Great Father „Praotec Cech”, who stood for the first time on Mount Rip, was charmed by the country all around. The Czech Slavs when they arrived in the 5th century were to stay forever. They, however, were not the first inhabitants of the Czech Lands. Indeed man has lived here from as far back as the Early Stone Age. The Celts built their settlements in many varied locations, and traces of historically proven places of habitation were left by the Germanic tribes of Roman times. Almost in the center of the Czech Lands Prague Castle, looking more like a fortified settlement than the Premyslids founded a medieval castle in the 9th century. One by one, under its protection, the town of Prague was established and began to grow. Prague was the center of the Bohemian State for eleven centuries. Prag The intensity of cultural life in Prague never once lost its momentum throughout the ages. In the Early Middle Age Prague was full of churches, abbeys, convents, palaces, and a number of unique stone Romanesque houses, the foundations of which are situated beneath the present day buildings of the Old Town. Prague flourished during the reign of Charles IV, and was further enriched by the late Gothic Jagellon dynasty. New impulses came with the reign of Rudolf II. Prague gained fame for its Baroque architecture, changing the character of the town, which until then had been predominantly Gothic. Admiration and wonder have always been evoked by the harmonious blend of differing architectural styles on the articulated terrain of Prague, with its marked differences in height from the surface of the Vltava River to Strahov and Petrin.
Gothic stone castles were now being built inland along the borders for the protection of the country. The most important of them, being Bezdez, Frydlant, Kost, and Trosky, now constituted as national cultural monuments. There are many castles in the Czech Lands, some of them in ruins. Nonetheless they have become characteristic of the countryside. Chateaux, buildings of a later period and marked by an outstanding architecture, are found almost everywhere. The most renowned are Sychrov, Hruby Rohozec and Konopiste. Formed by human hands over the centuries the Czech countryside was given its permanent look by the work of nature’s encompassing over millions of years. Very rich and multifaceted is the geological history of the Czech mountains, the highest of which are the Giant Mountains in the north, followed by the Sumava range in the southwest and the Jizera Mountains in the north. Today thick forests still cover the mountain slopes. The hills of the Czech central highlands are clearly the result of volcanic activity, contribute to the beauty and almost exotic atmosphere and belong among the curiosities of the country. Most of the mountains and regions are preserved by the state as national parks or nature reserves.
Sandstone rock formations can be found in the whole area known as „Bohemian Paradise” not far from the District of Liberec in the north. Only a fraction of the beauty of the Czech Lands has thus far been described. There is nothing more telling than the words of the Czech National Anthem: „…that beautiful country, that Czech country, my home.”