Area: 30,442 square miles (about the size of South Carolina). Population: 10,319,000 (Prague, 1,213,000; Brno, 390,000). Language: Czech.
Prague, set above an elbow in the Vltava river, is a repository of architectural styles from Romanesque and Gothic to Art Deco and even Cubist. Atop a hill is Hradc˙any, the sprawling castle where kings, bishops and presidents have presided since the 9th century. Across the statue-fringed Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square with its medieval Town Hall and Tyn Church is a favorite gathering place. Prague is an arts center with music, theater and galleries.
In Brno, the cathedral's twin spires dominate the skyline. Lively restaurants and a bustling center make it Moravia's most important city.
West Bohemia is a popular spa region. The thermal springs of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) have long been favored by kings, writers and musicians. The town is also known for its fine porcelain and glassware. Frederic Chopin and Richard Wagner were soothed by tranquil Mariánské Lázneę (Marienbad), and Frantiskovy Láznę (Franzensbad), with its canary-yellow buildings, was a favorite of Goethe. Here also is the city of Plzen (Pilsen), famous for its Pilsner Urquell beer and Skoda factory works.
South Bohemia includes stops in Ceské Budęjovice (Budweis) and Ceský Krumlov. The first has an arcaded town square; the second is a perfectly preserved medieval town renowned for its Budweiser - the original beer of that name.
The mountains of North and East Bohemia are playgrounds for Prague-dwellers. The sandstone formations of Bohemia offer climbers some of the world's most challenging faces.
South Moravia has thriving farmlands amid valleys dotted with castles. The annual folk festival at Stráznice demonstrates the Moravian love of tradition, music, good wine and plum brandy.