Czechoslovakia is such a fun word. It would have definitely caused some trouble for students to learn the correct spelling and pronunciation had it not been dissolved in 1993 to form two independent nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Czech Republic is a country situated in Central Europe. This landlocked nation is bordered by Poland to the northeast and east, Slovakia to the southeast, Austria to the south and Germany to the west and northwest.
The country is well known for its art, music, and literature. It is a land of castles and mountains, history and charm. The country is also known by the short name of Czechia since 2016.
15 Interesting facts about Czech Republic
1. The country is full of dreamy castles and is also home to the largest ancient castle in the world. Prague Castle which was built in the 9th century is 570 m long and 128m wide. The castle has around 700 rooms. To give you an idea, seven football stadiums can b accommodated here. Now that’s huge.
2. The country loves beer. So much that the Czechs drink the most beer in the world (consumption per capita). Its first known brewery existed in 993. Pilsners were originated here as did the first ever blond pilsners.
Everyone knows about Oktoberfest in Germany, but do you know about Czech Beer Festival? The festival lasts for 17 days and visitors can taste more than 70 brands of Czech beer.
3. If you wear contact lenses then you should be thankful to Otto Wichterle, a Czech chemist who discovered soft contact lenses in 1959.There are many other inventions which happened here like the first grounded lightning rod, the screw propeller, the modern compass, sugar cubes, photogravure, the arc lamp and Semtex.
4. The word robot was created by the Czech artist Josef Čapek. It was later used by his brother Karel Čapek in his novel Rossum’s Universal Robots. Karel describe robots as creatures that could perform all the work humans didn’t want to do and had no soul. Sounds right! The term comes from a Czech word, robota, meaning “forced labor”.
5. The Czech Republic is one of the least religious countries in the world. Around 75% of the population is irreligious (atheists, agnostics and those who describe their religion as ‘nothing in particular’).
6. Czechs love eating mushrooms and more than that they love hunting for them. You will have the town to yourself on St. Václav Day (in the month of September) when the entire nation hunts in the damp forests in what can be described as a complete mushroom frenzy.
These hunts can be very competitive. Entire families wake up at sunrise, get their baskets and roam the forest searching for these wild luxuries.
7. Being Bohemian is a trend these days. But here in Czech Republic, it’s part of the culture. This area was once the Kingdom of Bohemia. Originally formed in the late ninth century, the Czech state was first known as the Duchy of Bohemia under the Great Moravian Empire. In 1918, Bohemia transformed into the western part of the newly formed country of Czechoslovakia – that was split into The Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.
8. In 1930 there were 118,000 Jews living in the country. Most of them were annihilated during the Holocaust by the Nazis. According to the 2005 census, there are only 4000 Jews in Czeck Republic.
The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague is a monument to the victims of the Holocaust and includes five synagogues in its complex.
9. The country has the most hospital beds per capita of any country in the EU. Unfortunately it also has the second highest death rate for cancer in the EU (after Hungary).
10. Prague is the city to invent defenestration. Two of the most famous defenestration in world history occurred here. The first one occurred in 1419 when a mob threw seven members of the city council out of the window after they refused the release of several prisoners. The second defenestration was in 1619 when a group of Protestants threw three Catholic representatives of the Emperor out a third story window in Prague Castle.
And here we thought that Jamie throwing Bran in GOT would count as the most epic defenestration!
11. Do you know that the world-famous Skoda Auto is based in the Czech Republic? Bata was also founded in Czechia. Budweiser Budvar and Pilsner Urquell are the homegrown beer companies as well.
12. Prague is home to the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world. The clock was installed in 1410 and is still an impressive instrument to behold. It displays time and sun signs and also features eerie figures that move when the hour strikes.
13. Education is given a lot of importance in the country. Around 90% of Czechs have completed at least secondary education. The Czech Republic has an advanced economy and a high standard of living with the lowest unemployment rate (2.2%) in the European Union.
14. Charles University in Prague is the oldest university in Central Europe. Founded in 1348 it is one of the oldest in the world in continuous operation.
15. Czechia has an unusual Easter tradition. Boys get willow branches, braid them together into whips and decorate them with ribbons to whip girls with for luck and fertility.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Czech Republic:
Start your journey by spending a couple of days in the capital city of Prague.
The iconic Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most famous sights. Completed in the 15th century, it is visited by thousands of tourists every day. It is an extremely colourful affair to be there – you will see families with their kids running about, lovers hand in hand or exchanging kisses, painters offering to make your portrait, statues standing tall, buskers showing off their skills, photographers clicking their models, friends laughing and chattering away. There are few places that are enriched with so much history and yet has such a social scene at the same time. There are boats going up the Vlatva river, and you can even go down to the river if you want.
Head to the Town Square. Ranked as the #1 thing to do in Prague, the Old Town square lives up to its reputation. Even in the morning, it’s full of people, animation, music, eateries, guides explaining the history of Prague to foreigners, and youngsters just hanging about.
Click here to check out five best day trips from Prague!
And there’s a Wall of Lennon. The ever-changing wall of graffiti named after John Lennon can be found the district of Mala Strana. It’s been dubbed in the past as the ‘crying wall’ and was used by protesters of the day to paint political messages. One of the most photographed walls in the city, this fifty metre wall has a lot of paintings, graffiti art work, messages of love and peace on it.
Visit the Prague Castle. Built in the 9th century, this castle complex is one of the largest in the world, and is easily Czech Republic’s most famous monument. It has a large number of buildings within the complex, a beautiful church and pretty gardens. From the top, you can see the entire city, and it makes for magnificent views and really nice pictures.
Click here to check out some of the best vegan joints in Prague!
Click here to check out some of the best Indian Restaurants in Prague!
A UNESCO world heritage site, Kutna Hora is one of the most popular destinations in the country. The town was one of the powerhouses of the Bohemian kingdom in olden times, and competed with Prague as the most important city in the country. Visit the Sedlec Ossuary or the Bone Church. One of the most visited attractions in the country it is full of skulls and bones of nearly 70,000 people. There is also an enormous chandelier that contains at least one bone from every part of the human body.
As you stroll through the town, the local guide will tell you about Bohemia in the olden days, about medieval tortures and more. You shall also visit St. Barbara’s Church, one of the most famous Gothic churches in Europe, and see its valuable murals.
We had reserved the best for the last. A fairy tale-like little town, it lies just three hours away from Prague. The moment you enter, you feel as if you have stepped back in time, and are in a medieval era. The best thing to do here is walking around this beautiful little town. Visit the top of the tower and take in the magnificent views. Later, peek into the shops and see how they are recreating some of the medieval times, walk by the river, click pictures by the bridge, try some authentic Czech drink, and talk to the locals. At night, go on a walking tour of the Mysterious stories of the town! Hear a lot of stories about this old town on this tour.