A capital city between past and future | The Plan
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A capital city between past and future

Most tourists agree that Prague is one of the most beautiful cities to visit. As a local resident though, I know this is thanks to the beauty of the old town centre and not to the rest of the city. Unfortunately, this split between a “beautiful historical centre“, and an only “average quality contemporary town” is a characteristic of most European cities.
Prague is 1.100 years old. Its most characteristic part was built between the 12th and 18th centuries. After 1848, the city extended its confines, incorporating adjacent villages that during the late 19th and early 20th centuries became new districts. The table A shows how Prague grew to its current size between 1880 and 1930. Since the Second World War though, it has not grown at all. In other words, the dramatic population increases we are seeing today in Asian, African and Latin American cities took place in Prague at the turn of the 20  century. A massive influx of the rural population into an urban area always reflects the greater attraction of the town over the countryside during specific historical periods. The fact that Prague has not grown for more than 60 years shows that it unfortunately no longer exerts this attraction and has become a city living off tourism and its past.
Prague is characteristic also for its specific geographical morphology. Standing on the Charles Bridge - for me the centre of city - you can see the seven hills surrounding the city. Prague lies in the valley of the
Vltava River and the seven hills are the edges of a highland plateau some 200 metres above the old city. This morphology is behind the hierarchy of the different neighbourhoods, the districts with good views over the old city and especially with a view of the Prague castle being the most prized. In fact, the 19th century master plan for the bourgeois district of Vinohrady was oriented to ensure views over to the castle. The districts of Zizkov and Vrsovice, on the other hand,...

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