Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million.The city has a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and chilly winters.
Prague has been a political, cultural and economic centre of Europe and particularly central Europe during its 1,100 year existence. For centuries, during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was the permanent seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Later it was an important city in the Habsburg Monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and after World War I became the capital of Czechoslovakia. The city played major roles in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, and in 20th-century history, during both World Wars and the post-war Communist era.
Prague is home to a number of famous cultural attractions, many of which survived the violence and destruction of twentieth century Europe. Main attractions include the following: Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, the Jewish Quarter, the Lennon Wall, and Petřín hill. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Prague boasts more than ten major museums, along with countless theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits. Also, Prague is home to a wide range of public and private schools, including the famous Charles University. Its rich history makes it a popular tourist destination, and the city receives more than 4.1 million international visitors annually, as of 2009. Prague is classified as a global city.
A modern public transportation system connects the city. Prague is also accessible by road, train, and air.
During the thousand years of its existence, the city grew from a settlement stretching from Prague Castle in the north to the fort of Vyšehrad in the south, becoming the multicultural capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic, a member state of the European Union.
The area on which Prague was founded was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. Around 200 BC the Celts established an oppidum (settlement) in the south, now called Závist. By the end of the 1st century BC, the population was composed mostly of the Marcomanni (and possibly the Suebi), a Germanic people. In the 6th century AD, during the great migration period following the collapse of the Roman empire, the Marcomanni people migrated westwards or were assimilated into the invading West Slavic people.
According to legends, Prague was founded by Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the dynasty of the same name. By the year 800 there was a simple fort fortified with wooden buildings, occupying about two-thirds of the area that is now Prague Castle. The first masonry under Prague Castle dates from the year 885.
The other Prague fort, the Přemyslid fort Vyšehrad was founded in the 10th century, some 70 years later than Prague Castle. Prague Castle is dominated by the cathedral, which was founded in 1344, but completed in the 20th century.
The region became the seat of the dukes, and later kings, of Bohemia. Under Emperor Otto II the area became a bishopric in 973. Until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz.
Prague was an important seat for trading where merchants from all of Europe settled, including many Jews, as recalled in 965 by the Jewish merchant and traveller Ibrahim ibn Ya'qub. The Old New Synagogue of 1270 still stands. Prague contained an important slave market.
At the site of the ford in the Vltava river, King Vladislaus II had the first bridge built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, (Juditin most) named honor of his wife Judith of Thuringia. This bridge was destroyed by a flood in 1342. Some of the original foundation stones of that bridge remain.
In 1257, under King Ottokar II, Malá Strana ("Lesser Quarter") was founded in Prague on the site of an older village in what would become the Hradčany (Prague Castle) area. This was the district of the German people, who had the right to administer the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg rights. The new district was on the bank opposite of the Staré Město ("Old Town"), which had borough status and was bordered by a line of walls and fortifications.
The era of Charles IV
Prague flourished during the 14th century reign (1346–1378) of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and the king of Bohemia of the new Luxembourg dynasty. As King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, he transformed Prague into an imperial capital. He ordered the building of the New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to the Old Town and laid out the design himself. The Charles Bridge, replacing the Judith Bridge destroyed in the flood just prior to his reign, was erected to connect the right bank districts to the Malá Strana and castle area. On 9 July 1357 at 5:31 am Charles IV personally laid the first foundation stone for the Charles Bridge. The exact time of laying the first foundation stone is known because the palindromic number 135797531 was carved into the Old Town bridge tower having been chosen by the royal astrologists and numerologists as the best time for starting the bridge construction. In 1347 he founded Charles University which remains today the oldest university in Central Europe.
He began construction of the Gothic Saint Vitus Cathedral, within the largest of the Prague Castle courtyards, on the site of the Romanesque rotunda there. Prague was elevated to an archbishopric in 1344, the year the cathedral was begun.
The city had a mint and was a centre of trade for German and Italian bankers and merchants. The social order, however, became more turbulent due to the rising power of the craftsmen's guilds (themselves often torn by internal fights), and the increasing number of poor people. The Hunger Wall, a substantial fortification wall south of Malá Strana and the Castle area, was built during a famine in the 1360s. The work is reputed to have been ordered by Charles IV as a means of providing employment and food to the workers and their families. Prague was at that time the third-largest city in Europe.
Charles IV died in 1378. During the reign of his son, King Wenceslaus IV (1378–1419), a period of intense turmoil ensued. During Easter 1389, members of the Prague clergy announced that Jews had desecrated the host (Eucharistic wafer) and the clergy encouraged mobs to pillage, ransack and burn the Jewish quarter. Nearly the entire Jewish population of Prague (3,000 people) perished.
Jan Hus, a theologian and rector at the Charles University, preached in Prague. In 1402, he began giving sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel. Inspired by John Wycliffe, these sermons focused on what were seen as radical reforms of a corrupt Church. Having become too dangerous for the political and religious establishment, Hus was summoned to the Council of Constance, put on trial for heresy, and burned at the stake in Constanz in 1415.
Four years later Prague experienced its first defenestration, when the people rebelled under the command of the Prague priest Jan Želivský. Hus' death, coupled with Czech proto-nationalism and proto-Protestantism, had spurred the Hussite Wars. Peasant rebels, led by the general Jan Žižka, along with Hussite troops from Prague, defeated King Sigismund, in the Battle of Vítkov Hill.
In the following two centuries, Prague strengthened its role as a merchant city. Many noteworthy Gothic buildings were erected and Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle was added.
In 1526, the Bohemian estates elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg The fervent Catholicism of its members was to bring them into conflict in Bohemia, and then in Prague, where Protestant ideas were gaining popularity. These problems were not pre-eminent under Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, elected King of Bohemia in 1576, who chose Prague as his home. He lived in the Prague Castle where his court saw invitations to astrologers and magicians, but also scientists, musicians, and artists. Rudolf was an art lover too and Prague became the capital of European culture. This was a prosperous period for the city: famous people living there in that age include the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johann Kepler, the painter Arcimboldo, the alchemists Edward Kelley and John Dee, the poetess Elizabeth Jane Weston, and others.
In 1618, the famous second defenestration of Prague provoked the Thirty Years' War, a particularly harsh period for Prague and Bohemia. Ferdinand II of Habsburg was deposed, and his place as King of Bohemia taken by Frederick V, Elector Palatine; however the Czech Army under him was crushed in the Battle of White Mountain (1620) not far from the city. Following this in 1621 was an execution of 27 Czech leaders (involved in the uprising) in Old Town Square and an exiling of many others. The city suffered subsequently during the war under Saxon (1631) and Swedish (1648) occupation. Prague began a steady decline which reduced the population from the 60,000 it had had in the years before the war to 20,000. In the second half of the 17th century Prague's population began to grow again. Jews have been in Prague since the end of the 10th century and, by 1708, they accounted for about a quarter of Prague’s population.
In 1689, a great fire devastated Prague, but this spurred a renovation and a rebuilding of the city. In 1713–14, a major outbreak of plague hit Prague one last time, killing 12–13,000 people. The economic rise continued through the 18th century, and the city in 1771 had 80,000 inhabitants. Many of these were rich merchants and nobles who enriched the city with a host of palaces, churches and gardens, creating a Baroque style renowned throughout the world. After the Battle of Prague in 1757 the city was badly damaged during a Prussian bombardment. In 1784, under Joseph II, the four municipalities of Malá Strana, Nové Město, Staré Město, and Hradcany were merged into a single entity. The Jewish district, called Josefov, was included only in 1850. The Industrial Revolution had a strong effect in Prague, as factories could take advantage of the coal mines and ironworks of the nearby region. A first suburb, Karlín, was created in 1817, and twenty years later population exceeded 100,000.
The revolutions that shocked all Europe around 1848 touched Prague too, but they were fiercely suppressed. In the following years the Czech nationalist movement began its rise, until it gained the majority in the town council in 1861. Prague had a German speaking majority in 1848, but by 1880 the German population had decreased to 14% (42,000), and by 1910 to 6.7% (37,000), due to a massive increase of the city's overall population caused by the influx of Czechs from the rest of Bohemia and Moravia and also due to ethnic mixing and assimilation.
The First Republic
World War I ended with the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the creation of Czechoslovakia. Prague was chosen as its capital and Prague Castle as the seat of president (Tomáš Masaryk). At this time Prague was a true European capital with highly developed industry. By 1930, the population had risen to 850,000.
Second World War
Hitler ordered the German Army to enter Prague on 15 March 1939 and from Prague Castle proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. For most of its history Prague had been a multi-ethnic city with important Czech, German and (mostly Czech- and/or German-speaking) Jewish populations. From 1939, when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany, and during World War II, most Jews fled the city or were deported.
In 1942, Prague was witness to the assassination of one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany – Reinhard Heydrich (during Operation Anthropoid). Hitler ordered bloody reprisals. At the end of the war Prague suffered several bombing raids by the USAAF. Over 1,000 people were killed and hundreds of buildings, factories and historical landmarks were destroyed (however the damage was small compared to the total destruction of many other cities in that time). On 5 May 1945, two days before Germany capitulated, an uprising against Germany occurred. Four days later the 3rd Shock Army entered the city. The majority of the German population either fled or was expelled by the Beneš decrees in the aftermath of the war.
Prague was a city in the territory of military and political control of the Soviet Union (see Iron Curtain). The 4th Czechoslovakian Writers' Congress held in the city in 1967 took a strong position against the regime. This spurred the new secretary of the Communist Party, Alexander Dubček to proclaim a new deal in his city's and country's life, starting the short-lived season of the "socialism with a human face". It was the "Prague Spring", which aimed at the renovation of institutions in a democratic way. The Soviet Union and its allies reacted with the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the capital on 21 August 1968 by tanks, suppressing any attempt at work.
Era after the Velvet Revolution
In 1989, after the riot police beat back a peaceful student demonstration, the Velvet Revolution crowded the streets of Prague and the Czechoslovak capital benefited greatly from the new mood. In 1993, after the split of Czechoslovakia, Prague became the capital city of the new Czech Republic. In the late 1990s Prague again became an important cultural centre of Europe and was notably influenced by globalisation. In 2000 anti-globalisation protests in Prague (some 15,000 protesters) turned violent during the IMF and World Bank summits. In 2002 Prague suffered from widespread floods that damaged buildings and also its underground transport system. Prague launched a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but failed to make the candidate city shortlist. Due to low political support, Prague's officials chose in June 2009 to cancel the city's planned bid for 2020 Summer Olympics as well.
Etymology and other names
The name Prague is derived from an old Slavic root, praga, which means “ford”, referring to the city's origin at a crossing point of the Vltava river.
The native name of the city, Praha, however, is also related to the modern Czech word práh (threshold) and a legendary etymology connects the name of the city with princess Libuše, prophetess and a wife of mythical founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. She is said to have ordered the city "to be built where a man hews a threshold of his house". The Czech práh might thus be understood to refer to rapids or a cataract in the river, the edge of which could have acted as a means of fording the river – thus providing a "threshold" to the castle. However, no geological ridge in the river has ever been located directly beneath the castle.
Another derivation of the name Praha is suggested from na prazě, the original term for the shale hillside rock upon which the original castle was built. At that time, the castle was surrounded by forests, covering the nine hills of the future city – the Old Town on the opposite side of the river, as well as the Lesser Town beneath the existing castle, appeared only later.
Nicknames for Prague have included: Praga mater urbium/Praha matka měst ("Prague – Mother of Cities") in Latin/Czech, Stověžatá Praha ("City of a Hundred Spires") based on count by 19 century mathematician Bernard Bolzano. Today's count is estimated at 500.
Other nicknames: Zlaté město/Goldene Stadt ("Golden City") in Czech/German.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become one of Europe's (and the world's) most popular tourist destinations. It is the sixth most-visited European city after London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. Prague suffered considerably less damage during World War II than some other major cities in the region, allowing most of its historic architecture to stay true to form. It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern. Some popular sights include:
- Prague Castle (Pražský hrad, the largest castle in the world) with the St. Vitus Cathedral
- Old Town (Staré Město) with its Old Town Square
- The Astronomical Clock (Orloj) on Old Town Square
- The picturesque Charles Bridge (Karlův Most)
- The vaulted Gothic Old New Synagogue (Staronová Synagoga) of 1270
- New Town (Nové město) with its busy and historic Wenceslas Square
- National Museum on the Wenceslas Square
- Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter) with its Infant Jesus of Prague
- Josefov (the old Jewish quarter) with Old Jewish Cemetery and Old New Synagogue
- Jan Žižka equestrian statue in Vítkov Park, Žižkov – Prague 3.
- The Lennon Wall
- Vinohrady, a cadastral district that was once covered in vineyards
- Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, with its huge collections of glass, furniture, textile, toys, Art Nouveau, Cubism, Art Deco and so on
- The museum of the Heydrich assassination in the crypt of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius
- Vyšehrad Castle and Cemetery where many famous Czechs are buried, including the composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana
- Písek Gate, the last preserved city gate of Baroque fortification
- Petřínská rozhledna, an observation tower on Petřín Hill, which resembles the Eiffel Tower
- Anděl, a busy part of the city with modern architecture and a shopping mall
- Žižkov Television Tower (Žižkovský vysílač) with observation deck – Prague 3.
- The New Jewish Cemetery in Olšany, location of Franz Kafka's grave – Prague 3.
- The Metronome, a giant, functional metronome that looms over the city
- The Dancing House (Fred and Ginger Building)
- The Mucha Museum, showcasing the Art Nouveau works of Alfons Mucha
- The vast cemeteries that are also used for walks by the locals, such as Olšany Cemetery
- Places connected to writers living in the city, such as Franz Kafka (one popular destination is the Franz Kafka Museum, also his grave at the New Jewish cemetery near the metro station Želivského)
- The Prague Zoo, selected as the 7th best zoo in the world by Forbes magazine
- The Nusle bridge with tube for underground
Prague is situated on the Vltava river, at 50°05"N and 14°27"E. in the centre of the Bohemian Basin. Prague is approximately at the same latitude as Frankfurt, Germany; Paris, France; and Vancouver, Canada.
The city of Prague has borderline oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) . The winters are relatively cold with very little amount of sunshine. Snow cover is common between mid-November to late March but is usually not too heavy. Summers usually bring fine sunny days with highs being around 25 degrees. Nights can be quite cool even in summer, though. Precipitation in Prague is rather low (it is less rainy than Rome and Paris) as the shadow of the Ore Mountains and the Czech Central Highlands takes effect. The driest season is usually winter while the summers can bring quite heavy rain especially in form of violent storms and showers. Temperature inversions are relatively common between mid-October and mid-March bringing often cloudy, cold days in comparison with mountains or highlands and can be often connected with air pollution.
Prague is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events.
See also: museums, theatres and operas, and galleries and libraries.
Some of the significant cultural institutions include the National Theatre (Národní Divadlo) and the Estates Theatre (Stavovské or Tylovo or Nosticovo divadlo), where the première of Mozart's Don Giovanni and La clemenza di Tito was held. Other major cultural institutions are the Rudolfinum which is home to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Municipal House which is home to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. The Prague State Opera (Státní opera) performs at the Smetana Theatre.
There are many world class museums in Prague including the National Museum (Národní muzeum), the Museum of the Capital City of Prague, the Jewish Museum in Prague, the Alfons Mucha Museum, the African-Prague Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague the Náprstek Museum (Náprstkovo Muzeum, the Josef Sudek Gallery, the National Library and the National Gallery
There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. Prague hosts Music Festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival and the Prague International Organ Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Prague also hosts the Prague Writers' Festival, the Prague Folklore Days, Prague Advent Choral Meeting g, the Summer Shakespeare Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival as well as hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.
Many films have been made at the Barrandov Studios. Hollywood movies set in Prague include Mission Impossible, Blade II and xXx. Other Czech films shot in Prague include Empties and The Fifth Horseman is Fear. Also, the music video to "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" by Kanye West was shot in Prague, and features shots of the Charles Bridge and the Astronomical Clock, among other famous landmarks. Prague was also the setting for the film "Dungeons and Dragons" in 2000. The music video "Silver and Cold" by AFI, an American rock band, was also filmed in Prague.
Forbes Traveller Magazine listed Prague Zoo among the world's best zoos.
The Prague restaurant Allegro received the first Michelin star in the whole of post-Communist Eastern Europe.
With the growth of low-cost airlines in Europe, Prague has become a popular weekend city destination allowing tourists to visit its many museums and cultural sites as well as try its famous Czech beers and hearty cuisine.
Prague sites many buildings by renowned architects, including Adolf Loos (Villa Müller), Frank O. Gehry (Dancing House), or Jean Nouvel (Golden Angel).
Recent major events held in Prague:
- NATO Summit 2002
- International Monetary Fund and World Bank Summit 2000
- International Olympic Committee Session 2004
- International Astronomical Union General Assembly 2006
- EU & USA Summit 2009
- USA & Russia Summit 2010 (signing of the New START treaty)
Prague's economy accounts for 25% of the Czech Republic's GDP making it the highest performing regional economy of the country. According to the Eurostat, as of 2007, its GDP per capita in purchasing power standard is 42,800 €. Prague ranked the 5th best-performing European NUTS 2 level region at 172 % of the EU-27 average.
The city is the site of the European headquarters of many international companies.
Since 1990, Prague economy structure has shifted from industrial to service-oriented. Industry is present in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, printing, food processing, manufacture of transport equipment, computer technology and electrical engineering. In services sector, most significant are financial services, commercial services, trade, restaurants and accommodations and public administration. Services account for around 80% of employment. There are 800,000 employees in Prague, including 120,000 commuters. The number of (legally registered) foreign residents in Prague has been increasing in spite of the country's economic downturn. As of March 2010, 148,035 foreign workers were reported to be living in the city making up about 18% of the workforce, up from 131,132 in 2008. Approximately one-fifth of all investment in the Czech Republic takes place in Prague city.
Almost one-half of the national income from tourism is spent in Prague. The city offers approximately 73,000 beds in accommodation facilities, most of which were built after 1990, including almost 51,000 beds in hotels and boarding houses capable of satisfying all categories of visitors.
From the late 1990s to late 2000s, Prague was a popular filming location for international productions and Hollywood, Bollywood motion pictures. A combination of architecture, low costs and the existing motion picture infrastructure have proven attractive to international film production companies.
The modern economy of Prague is largely service and export-based and, in a 2010 survey, the city was named the best city in East Europe for business.
In 2005 Prague was deemed among the three best cities in eastern Europe according to the Economist's livability rankings. The city was named as a top-tier nexus city for innovation across multiple sectors of the global innovation economy, placing 29th globally out of 289 cities, ahead of Brussels and Helsinki for innovation in 2010 in 2thinknow annual analysts Innovation Cities Index.
In the Eurostat research, Prague ranked fifth among Europe's 271 regions in terms of gross domestic product per inhabitant, achieving 172% of the EU average. It ranked just above Paris and well above the Czech Republic as a whole, which achieved 80% of the EU average.
Prague is also the site of some of the most important offices and institutions of the Czech Republic.
- President of the Czech Republic
- The Government and both houses of Parliament
- Ministries and other national offices (Industrial Property Office, Czech Statistical Office, National Security Authority etc.)
- Czech National Bank
- Czech Television and other major broadcasters
- Radio Free Europe – Radio Liberty
- Galileo global navigation project
- Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Several universities, colleges and schools are located in the city:
- Charles University (UK) founded in 1348 (the oldest university in Central and Eastern Europe)
- Czech Technical University (ČVUT) founded in 1707
- Institute of Chemical Technology (VŠCHT) founded in 1920
- University of Economics (VŠE) founded in 1953
- Czech University of Agriculture (ČZU) founded in 1906/1952
- Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) founded in 1800
- Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (VŠUP) founded in 1885
- Academy of Performing Arts (AMU) founded in 1945
- University of New York in Prague (UNYP) founded in 1998
- International School of Prague (ISP) founded in 1948
- Anglo-American University (AAU) founded in 1990
- University of Northern Virginia in Prague (UNVA) founded in 1998
- Architectural Institute in Prague (ARCHIP) founded in 2010
- The University of Finance and Administration (VSFS) founded in 1999
- Instituto Camões
- Instituto Cervantes
- British Council
The region city of Prague is an important centre of research. It is the seat of 39 out of 54 institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences, including the largest ones, the Institute of Physics, the Institute of Microbiology and the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry. It is also a seat of 10 public research institutes, four business incubators and large hospitals performing research and development activities such as the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague or the Motol University Hospital. Universities seated in Prague (see section Colleges and Universities) also represent important centres of science and research activities.
As of 2008, there were 13,000 researchers (out of 30,000 in the Czech Republic, counted in full-time equivalent), representing 3% share of Prague's economically active population. Gross expenditure on research and development accounted for 901.3 million € (41.5% of country's total).
Some well-known multinational companies have established research and development facilities in Prague, among them Siemens, Honeywell and Sun Microsystems.
In 2010, Prague was selected to host administration of the EU satellite navigation system Galileo.
The public transport infrastructure consists of an intensely used integrated transport system of Prague Metro (its length is 59 km with 57 stations in total), Prague Tram System (including the "nostalgic tram" no. 91), buses, the Petřín funicular to Petřín Hill, and six ferries: PID, Pražská integrovaná doprava (Prague integrated transport system). Prague has one of the highest rates of public transport usage in the world with 1.2 billion passenger journeys per annum. Per capita usage of the Prague metro is the highest in the world.
The Metro has three major lines extending throughout the city; in June 2010, construction began to extend the green line further into the northwest corner of Prague and eventually to the airport. A fourth Metro line is planned, although a date for construction to begin has not yet been specified.
Though Melbourne has the longest tram track length in the world, Prague's tram network is one of the biggest in the world by other measures: it runs more trams (900 against 500 in Melbourne), has more routes (33 against 28) and carries more passengers (356 million against 178 million), the third highest tram patronage in the world after St Petersburg and Budapest. On a per capita basis, Prague has the second highest tram patronage after Zurich. All services have a common ticketing system, and are run by the Prague Public Transit(Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, a.s.) and some other companies. Recently, Prague integrated transport coordinator (ROPID) has franchised operation of ferries on the Vltava river, which are also a part of the public transport system with common fares. Taxi services operate from regulated taxi stands, and from independent drivers who make pick-ups on the street.
The main flow of traffic leads through the centre of the city.
The longest city tunnel in Europe with a proposed length of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) and five interchanges is now being built to relieve congestion in the north-western part of Prague. Called Tunel Blanka and to be part of the Municipal Ring Road, it is estimated that it will now cost – after several increases – 38 billion CZK. Construction started in 2007 and the tunnel is scheduled to be completed in 2013/2014.
There is also an ongoing project to create a ring road leading around the outskirts of the city. The southern part of this road (with a length of more than 20 kilometres / 12 miles) was opened on 22 September 2010.
The city forms the hub of the Czech railway system, with services to all parts of the Czech Republic and abroad. The railway system links Prague with major European cities, including Munich (Germany); Berlin (Germany); Warsaw (Poland); Budapest (Hungary) and Vienna (Austria) (all of which can be reached without transfers). Travel times range between 3.5 hours to Berlin and approximately 10 hours to Warsaw.
Prague's main international railway station is Hlavní nádraží (formerly called Wilsonovo nádraží). Rail services are also available from the main stations Praha-Smíchov and Praha-Holešovice, in addition to selected suburban stations.
Prague is served by Prague Ruzyně Airport, the biggest airport in the Czech Republic and one of the busiest in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the hub of the flag carrier, Czech Airlines, as well as of the low-cost airlines Smart Wings and Wizzair operating throughout Europe. Other airports in Prague include the city's original airport at the Kbely north-east district, which is serviced by the Czech Air Force, internationally too: The runway (9–27) at Kbely is 2 km long. The airport also houses the Prague Aviation Museum. Close to town the Letňany airport is mainly used for private aviation and aeroclub aviation. Another airport in the proximity is Aero Vodochody aircraft factory's on the north, used for testing purposes, as well as for aeroclub aviation. There are a few aeroclubs around Prague, such as the Točná airfield.