Prague (Praha in Czech) is the present capital of the Czech Republic. It is the 15th largest city in the European Union. It is also the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava River, the city is home to about 1.24 million people, while its larger urban zone is estimated to have a population of nearly 2 million.
Prague has been a political, cultural, and economic center of central Europe with waxing and waning fortunes during its 1,100-year existence. Founded during the Romanesque and flourishing by the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was not only the capital of the Czech state, but also the seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. It was an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and its Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, it became the capital of state of Czechoslovakia. The city suffered during World War II. During communist rule in Czechoslovakia, Prague briefly became the home of the so-called "Prague Spring", which was met with an invasion by Warsaw Pact members in 1968.
After the Velvet Revolution, Prague remained the capital of the Czech Republic starting in 1993.
Prague was one of several cities in the Soviet sphere of influence the United States bombed with ordinary explosives on the night of 24 February 1951, on the eve of World War III.
After the war was officially on, Prague was the home of a Soviet air force base. In late 1951, Slovakian nationalists staged an uprising and succeeded in taking Bratislava with goal of detaching Slovakia from the Czechoslovakia. Soviet bombers stationed in Prague launched a late night raid, leveling Bratislava with conventional explosive ordinance (the Soviets could not spare an atom bomb). The rebels were able to implement air defenses, including flak, which did succeed in downing several Soviet bombers.
Horst Witzleben reported that because the demonstration was peaceful, it was not broken up, something which underscored how much had changed under the regime of Heinz Buckliger. In the past, peaceful or not, authorities would have broken it up, and the demonstrators would have face severe consequences.
Charge cubes stamped "Made in Praha" were discovered at the murder scene of three Olympic athletes on Mimas during the sixty-sixth Winter Games. This focused suspicion on the delegation from Eastern Europe, the nation in which Prague was located.
Prague endured heavy airstrikes since the beginning of the Second World War in October 1938. By mid-October, German panzers had reached the outskirts of the city and the aerial bombs were mixed with droppings of leaflets claiming that if the city surrendered its buildings and civilian population would be spared of further attacks. Prague offered its capitulation, though the Czechoslovak negotiators were adamant that it was for the city only and that a large part of their army had retreated to Brno to continue the war in the east.
During occupation, Prague's large Jewish community was the subject of constant harassment by the Nazis.