<p>Photo: Prazsk Hrad</p>

A setting sun bathes Prague and its storied Prazsk Hrad (Prague Castle), which rises on the left. Spared destruction in World War II, much of Prague’s historical center was declared a World Heritage site in 1992.

Photograph by René Jakl/Spectrum Pictures

Prague's intact medieval Old Town connects to an equally well-preserved Lesser Quarter by way of a 14th-century stone bridge—all brooded over by a castle that’s part Disneyland and part Franz Kafka. In the 1989 Velvet Revolution, this “city of 100 spires” (more like 500) awoke like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle in the heart of Europe—shrugging off decades of slumber under first the Nazis and then the Communists and, centuries before that, the Habsburgs. Prague drips with history, but it’s hardly a museum piece. The booming tourist industry has fed a revival of the city’s arts and museums, and made its hotels and restaurants the envy of Central Europe.

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