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A good statue of King Wenceslas, Wenceslas Square

Matička Praha - 'little mother Prague' - was largely undamaged by WWII, and the cityscape is stunning. Its compact medieval centre remains an evocative maze of cobbled lanes, ancient courtyards, dark passages and churches beyond number, all watched over by an 1100-year-old castle.

Kidnapped by communism for 40 years, Prague has become one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Its traditional pubs and eateries have been augmented by a wave of gourmet restaurants, cocktail bars and trendy cafés - though you can still feast on pork and dumplings washed down with a beer.

In counterpoint to the city's venerable past, Prague's social life is incredibly youthful, mixing young Czechs in search of urban adventure with hordes of 20-something expats in search of the romanticism of Golden Prague. Though veteran travellers complain that their secret treasure has been discovered by the world, the evening sun still shimmers across the city's domes and spires, the clatter and chatter of Czechs enjoying an after-work drink spills from the open doors of back street pubs, and from the window of the public recreation center, Dvořák's folksy symphonies are played on an out-of-tune piano. In some ways, Prague carries on as it always has.

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