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The area on which Prague was founded was settled as early as the Paleolithic Age. Around 200 BC the Celts had a settlement in the south, called Závist, but later they were replaced by the Marcomanni a Germanic people and later by the Slavic people. According to a legend, Prague was founded by Libuše and her husband, Přemysl, founder of the dynasty with the same name. Whether this legend is true or not, Prague's first nucleus was founded in the latter part of the 9th century as a castle on a hill commanding the right bank of the Vltava: this is known as Vyšehrad ("high castle") to differentiate from another castle which was later erected on the opposite bank, the future Prague Castle.
Under emperor Otto II the city became a bishopric in 973. Until Prague was elevated to archbishopric in 1344, it was under the jurisdiction of the Archbishopric of Mainz. Soon the city became the seat of the dukes and later kings of Bohemia.
It 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 survives.
King Vladislav II had a first bridge on the Vltava built in 1170, the Judith Bridge, which collapsed in 1342.
In 1257, under King Otakar II, Malá Strana ("Lesser Quarter") was founded in Prague in the future Hradčany area: it was the district of the German people. These had the right to administrate the law autonomously, pursuant to Magdeburg Rights. The new district was on the opposite bank of the Staré Město ("Old Town"), which had a borough status and was defended by a line of walls and fortifications.

The city flourished during the 14th century reign of the king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV of the new Luxembourg dynasty. He ordered the building of the New Town (Nové Město) adjacent to the Old Town. The Charles Bridge was erected to connect the new district to Malá Strana. Monuments by Charles include the Saint Vitus Cathedral, the oldest gothic cathedral in central Europe, which is actually inside the Castle, and the Charles University. The latter is the oldest university in central Europe. Prague was then the third-largest city in Europe. Under Charles, Prague was, from 1355, the actual capital of the Holy Roman Empire, and its rank was elevated to that of archbishopric (1344). It had a mint, and German and Italian merchants, as well as bankers, were present in the city. The social order, however, became more turbulent due to the rising power of the craftsmen's guild (themselves often torn by internal fights), and the presence of increasing number of poor people.
During the reign of King Wenceslas IV (1378-1419), Jan Hus, a theologian and lector 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 reforming the 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 in Konstanz in 1415. ...................

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Additional Photos by Dimitris Kastanaras (kastanaras) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 79 W: 0 N: 174] (1160)
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