The Republic of Czechoslovakia achieved independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I. In 1993, it split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Although the exquisite city of Prague was inundated by Westerners after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rest of the country is less explored but equally fascinating. Not far outside Prague, the landscape quickly becomes idyllic, with low mountains, misty forests and impressive châteaux. To the east, scenic Moravia is distinguished by underrated Brno, the country’s second-largest city and a gateway to the Czech Republic’s most important wine region; west of Prague, the 13th-century town of Pilsen, provenance of the best-known Czech beer, sits at the confluence of four rivers. The region farther toward the German border is known for mineral springs, notably in the spa town of Karlovy Vary, and mountain winter resorts. In the south, touristy Český Krumlov has a dramatic baroque castle perched over its perfectly preserved old center.

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