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in its architecture, from the 9th-century
Prague Castle to the houses and palaces
of Old Town, the synagogues of the
Jewish Quarter, and the Charles Bridge
where street performers entertain
passersby. Visitors to Prague have a lot to
take in because the city has a lot to offer.
So if you're weary of entertainment deliv-
ered by sidewalk violinists and jugglers,
take a walk to the Estates Theater, for-
merly Count Nostitz's Theater. If you lis-
ten carefully you might pick up the
sounds of Don Giovanni floating past and
the sense that Mozart is smiling.
Prague may be the destination du jour
in the Czech Republic, but the country
has much more to offer outside the capi-
tal. The two major regions are Bohemia
and Moravia. In Bohemia, you can visit
the center of the Czech beer-brewing
industry and the birthplace of lager. Stop
at a tavern in Bohemia, and a beer
appears in front of you almost automati-
In contrast, Moravia's beverage of
choice is wine. Moravia's soil is conducive
to growing grapes. That fortunate topo-
graphical feature supports a robust wine
industry that in turn has spawned numer-
ous wine bars serving local vintages.
Both regions are home to numerous
castles and châteaux, which provide visi-
tors with a view into the country's cultural
heritage. The state of these architectural
treasures varies from pristinely preserved
to near-ruins. Those still in good shape
offer glimpses into a vanished way of life.
Outdoor enthusiasts have numerous
options. Miles of flat, quiet roads await
bicyclists outside the large cities, and
mountainous regions of both Bohemia
and Moravia maintain an extensive net-
work of marked trails that connect the
smaller towns.
Winter sports enthusiasts in Bohemia
can choose between the Alpine resorts of
the Giant Mountains of the north and
Nordic areas of the Sumava in the south.
And no matter which sport you fancy, at
the end of the day you can soothe your
muscles at one of the many thermal spas
that dot every corner of the country.
At press time, the Czech Republic was
in its fifth month without a real govern-
ment following a deadlocked election, a
situation that gave pause to the European
Union, which admitted the Czech Repub-
lic in 2004. But despite this temporary
government in limbo, the Czech Repub-
lic is flourishing and keeping in step with
its European Union compatriots on the
road to prosperity.
Like many of its neighbors, Hungary has
had to battle a series of would-be foreign
conquerors on the way to its current state
of independence. Hungarians have had to
rout occupiers repeatedly over the last
1,000 years or so: They took on the Turks
in the 17th century, the Habsburgs in the
19th century, and the Soviets in the 20th
century in a 1956 rebellion that is the most
infamous of all the country's uprisings.
What began on October 23, 1956, as a
student protest to demand the with-
drawal of Soviet troops from Hungarian
soil ended on November 11, 1956, when
the Soviets flexed their military muscle
and sent tanks into Budapest to quash the
dissidents. When the guns finally fell silent
nearly 3 weeks later, more than 25,000
people had died. Shortly afterward, the
Soviets arrested or executed thousands of
others, and a quarter of a million Hun-
garians fled to Austria. The last Soviet
troops left Hungary in 1991, and this
beleaguered nation then began its trans-
formation into an independent citizen of
the world community in earnest.
Since then, Hungary has joined NATO
(1999), become a member of the the
European Union (2004), and experienced
a powerful economic growth spurt thanks
to investments by foreign companies that
amount to billions of dollars.
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