It has been said that to know a Czech is to know a musician — a nod to the nation’s rich and ongoing tradition of first-rate music education. In fact, the prevalence of many forms of art — from writing to puppet-making to painting and sculpture — is readily apparent, whether you visit small country villages or dynamic capital Prague. The nation’s urban hub is now well known for its medieval and Renaissance architecture (including the bustling Charles Bridge from 1357!) and colourful markets, where you can sample the latest craft beer or fine wine derived from grapes grown in the rolling, pastoral countryside. Vineyards are part of a rural patchwork of dense forests, rocky karst landscapes, and towering alpine regions like the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands and the Carpathians. Though landlocked, the Czech Republic connects to three different seas through its mighty rivers, the most notable perhaps being the Morava, which runs for a long stretch along the Slovak border. Amid centuries of history often marked by tumult and shifting borders, the Czech Republic has emerged as a distinct and fascinating country in Central Europe.