Prague, the capital of the Czech republic, is a beautiful Central European city with renaissance palaces, Gothic cathedrals, narrow winding lanes, baroque domes, stone bridges and Art Nouveau facades. While the area around Prague has been settled since prehistoric times, the birth of the city took place in the 9th century AD, when a castle was set up in the area. In the subsequent centuries Prague developed economically and culturally as the centre of Bohemia. Since the fall of communism in the Czech republic at the beginning of the 1990s Prague has transformed itself from a beautiful East bloc capital into a vibrant and dynamic city, from a development point of view at the same level as any Western European capital. While performing this transition it has managed to retain its rich cultural heritage and charm. Prague has 1.2 million inhabitants.