Czechs throughout History

Throughout history the Czech Republic has produced many famous people. Throughout grand phases of history and many hard and harrowing times, the world has been granted and gifted with many famous figures from the Czech nation. Famous Czechs can be found in all aspects of culture and society, from the Arts to the world of sports. This list of famous Czechs also includes people with Czech ancestry.

  • Charles IV | Famous Czechs throughout History Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (1316 – 1378)

    Charles IV from the house of Luxembourg, was the eleventh king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor. Charles IV was crowned King in 1347 when his father John the Blind died. Charles IV then inherited the Kingdom of Bohemia and the County of Luxembourg. Literate and fluent in five languages including Latin, Czech, German, French and Italian, Charles IV left a strong legacy and influence behind him. His reign is considered to be the Golden Age of Bohemia as he...

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  • Antonín Dvořák | Famous Czechs throughout History Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904)

    Antonín Dvořák was a Czech composer famous for his romantic compositions and melodic operas featuring folk music and stories about small villages in Bohemia and Moravia. Dvorak’s works include operas, choral, symphonic and chamber music. He is most famous for his New World Symphony, Slavonic Dances and his opera Rusalka. Antonín Dvořák was born in the small village of Nelahozeves where he spent the majority of his life. His talent was recognized early by his parents (although his father was...

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  • Frantisek Kupka | Czechs throughout History František Kupka (1871 – 1957)

    František Kupka, a Czech painter and graphic artist, was born in the small town of Opočno in eastern Bohemia in 1871. František Kupka is known as one of the pioneers of Abstract Art and Orphism, which helped evolve Cubism into Abstract Art, a movement more concerned with expression and sensation through color, music and form. Kupka studied at the Prague Art Academy from 1889 to 1892 where he experimented with patriotic and historical themes; he then moved to Vienna and...

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  • Famous Czechs | Franz Kafka Franz Kafka (1883 – 1924)

    If you happen to visit Prague today, you will see Kafka’s face plastered all over t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters. He is quite literally Prague’s most famous son. Franz Kafka was born in Prague (then Austria-Hungary) to a German-speaking Jewish family of middle-class status. His work, most of which was published against his will posthumously by Max Brod with the majority of it unfinished, is considered to be among the top influential writings of the 20th century in the genres...

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  • Vaclav Havel | Czechs throughout History Vaclav Havel (1936 – 2011 )

    Loved by most and loathed by few, Vaclav Havel is a Czech playwright and former dissident and was the former last president of Czechoslovakia and the former first president of the Czech Republic. Vaclav Havel is considered to be one of the top intellectuals in the world and is admired and respected for his humanitarian ideals and honesty. Havel has written over 20 plays and various non-fiction works dealing with human rights, N.A.T.O., globalization, the relationship between Czechs and Germans...

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  • Czechs throughout History | Milos Forman Milos Forman (1932 – )

    Milos Forman is a Czech-American film director famous for his academy awards won for best direction of the films One Flew over the Cukoo‘s Nest, winner of 5 academy awards and Amadeus, winner of 8; both films are listed among the best movies in the history of film. Forman received an academy nomination for the film The People Vs Larry Flint as well. Forman was born in Czechoslovakia and grew up with relatives after WWII as both of his parents...

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  • Bohumil Hrabal | Czechs throughout History Bohumil Hrabal (1914 – 1997)

    Bohumil Hrabal was a Czech writer, best known for his novella turned Oscar winning foreign flick Closely Observed Trains and his novel turned movie I Served the King of England; both works of fiction were adapted into film by the Czech director Jirí Menzel. Bohumil Hrabal was born in Brno, but studied in Prague at Charles University where he received a degree in Law and went on living in Prague from the 1940s on with a lot of cats. He...

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  • Božena Němcová | Czechs throughout History Božena Němcová (1820 – 1862)

    Božena Němcová was one of the most famous female Czech writers from the past and participated in the last part of the Czech national revival. Božena Němcová is most famous for the book The Grandmother, a novel about a child named Barunka (short for Barbora) who lives with her Grandmother in the Czech countryside. Božena Němcová was married when she was only 17, due to an arranged marriage to Josef Němec, 15 years her senior and a customs officer. Disliked...

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  • Tomáš Baťa (1876–1932) Tomáš Baťa (1876 – 1932)

    Founder of Baťa shoe company, one of the world’s largest multinational retailers, manufacturers and distributors of accessories and footwear, Tomáš Baťa was born in 1876 in the town of Zlín. Tomáš Baťa came from a family of shoemakers with a history going back over 300 years before the Baťa shoe empire was born. Tomáš Baťa established the company in 1894 with his brother and sister. In 1908 Tomáš Baťa obtained sole responsibility for the company after his brother died from...

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  • T.G.M. | Famous Czechs Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850 – 1937)

    Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, founder and first president of an independent Czechoslovakia, was a remarkable man who stood for democracy and harmony. Under his leadership (1918-1935) Czechoslovakia became the 10th biggest industrial power in the world and experienced cultural growth and wealth. He was a legendary president and left behind books on philosophy, politics, and history.

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  • Mikoláš Aleš | Czechs throughout History Mikoláš Aleš (1852 – 1913)

    Mikoláš Aleš was a Czech painter and regarded as one of the best Czech artists. He was born into wealth (however his family were at the time of his birth in debt) outside the town of Písek. Mikoláš Aleš displayed an artistic ability at an early age and furthered his talent from living in Italy from his late 20s on. He returned to his native Bohemia to help fellow Czech painters and artists work on the nation’s pride and joy,...

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  • David Černý | Czechs throughout History David Černý (1967 – )

    David Černý is a controversial Czech artist, famous for making outrageous sculptures that either make one squirm or make one laugh. His current most controversial piece is the massive sculpture Entropa, a large-scale metal piece that displays a united Europe with individual countries portrayed by stereotypical images or symbols that describe the country. David Černý’s works are on display throughout his native town of Prague and include a hanging St. Wenceslas on an upside-down dead horse in the Lucerna Passage,...

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  • Otto Gutfreund | Famous Czechs Otto Gutfreund (1889 – 1927)

    Otto Gutfreund was an important Czech Cubist sculptor and was the first art world member to put forth a Cubist sculpture (the first sculpture recognized by art historian Douglas Cooper to be Anxiety, finished in 1911 and premiered in Paris in 1912). Gutfreund was born in Dvůr Králové nad Labem, a small town in the Hradec Králové region of Bohemia in 1889, the forth of five children in the family. In Prague Gutfreund studied at the College of Decorative Arts...

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  • Emil Filla | Czech Painter Emil Filla (1882 – 1953)

    Emil Filla, a well-known early Czech Cubist painter and member of the Mánes Union of Fine Arts was the leader of the Avante Garde art movement in Prague between the two world wars. Born in Moravia in 1882, Filla spent most of his childhood in Brno and later in life moved to the capital city of Prague where he studied at the Prague Academy. Emil Filla was powerfully intrigued with the Avant Garde works of Picasso and Braque and their...

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  • Petra Němcová | Famous Czechs Petra Němcová (1979 – )

    Petra Němcová was born in 1979 in Karviná, Czechoslovakia and is a Czech model, TV host, author, philanthropist and founder / chair of Happy Hearts Fund. She was raised in the Moravian – Silesian area of Czechoslovakia by her mother, a teacher and her father, a mason and became a model when she was 16 when she was spotted during a national talent search. She graced the cover of the 2004 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and continued to appear in...

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  • Jan Žižka | Czechs throughout History Jan Žižka (1360 – 1424)

    If you have been in Prague long enough you may have noticed the massive equestrian statue at the top of Vitkov hill. The giant man perched atop the metal horse is none other than the one-eyed Hussite warrior and Czech General, Jan Žižka, and yes the district of Zizkov is named after the mighty man (Jan Žižka lost his eye in a childhood fight, not in battle). Jan Žižka was a follower of the religious reformer Jan Hus, a predecessor...

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  • Jan Neruda | Famous Czechs Jan Neruda (1834 – 1891)

    Jan Nepomuk Neruda was born in 1834 in the magical area of Prague’s Mala Strana (Lesser Town) son to a local grocer who owned a shop in the area. Jan Neruda was a Czech writer, journalist and poet and is famous to this day for Povídky malostranské (Tales of the Little Side), a book from 1877 that features satirical stories about the Czech Bourgeois of the time and clear descriptions of the romantic Mala Strana setting. One of the top...

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  • Karel Zeman | Famous Czechs Karel Zeman (1910 – 1989)

    The famous Czech film director, animator, artist and puppeteer Karel Zeman is often called the follower of the French filmmaker and pioneer of cinematography Georges Méliès. Karel Zeman became famous thanks to animation and special effects that form a part of the majority of his feature movies. However, he started his career with amateur puppet films. Already as a child Karel Zeman admired puppets and was a member of a puppet troupe. He studied at a business school in Kolín...

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  • Ivan Kral | Czechs throughout History Ivan Kral (1948 – )

    Ivan Kral is a Grammy award winning Czech songwriter, producer, guitarist, bassist, vocalist and filmmaker who is famous for among other things, playing guitar and bass with Patti Smith in New York City in the 1970s. Kral also collaborated with Blondie and Iggy Pop; David Bowie, Iggy Pop and U2 have recorded his music. Ivan Kral co-directed the documentary The Blank Generation about the birth of the New York Punk scene in 1976 alongside Amos Poe. The Blank Generation documented...

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  • Josef Čapek | Czechs throughout History Josef Čapek (1887 – 1945)

    Josef Čapek was a Czech artist, writer and poet and brother to author Karel Čapek. Josef Čapek was a student of Cubism, which combined with his own playful style, exhibited a primitive note in his paintings. Josef Čapek collaborated with his brother on numerous occasions, which produced many plays and short stories. Josef Čapek is also famous for penning the Czech children’s classic Doggie and Pussycat. Although his brother Karel is usually noted as the man who coined the word...

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  • Karel Čapek | Famous Czechs Karel Čapek (1890 – 1938)

    One of the most influential Czech writers of the 20th century, Karel Čapek is responsible for coining the term ‘robot’ in his science fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). The play premiered in 1921 and the English language as thus since had the word robot to play with. Although Karel Čapek introduced the word to fiction, the actual accreditation according to Karel belongs to his brother Josef Čapek. Karel Čapek is placed with authors such as Huxley and Orwell in...

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  • Vojtěch Náprstek Vojtěch Náprstek (1826 – 1894)

    Vojtěch Náprstek was a famous patriot, ethnographer, patron and mainly a person who loved progress. In 1848 Vojtěch Náprstek took part in revolutions in Prague and Vienna where he studied law. After both revolutions were suppressed he decided to leave for the United States, where he lived for ten years doing various jobs and also participated in an expedition to the Dakota Indian tribal land. After his return in 1858 his aim was to turn the Czech nation into a...

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  • Josef Lada | Famous Czechs Josef Lada (1887 – 1957)

    Josef Lada was a Czech painter and writer. Famous for his village scenes and cartoon like figures, he is most famous for his illustrations of Jaroslav Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk. Lada also wrote his own children’s books, the most well known being the Adventures of Mikeš, a magical book about a lovable and curious black cat that could talk. His distinct naïve style has won him many a fans over the years and his simple village scenes continue to...

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  • Josef Gočár | Famous Czechs Josef Gočár (1880 – 1945)

    Josef Gočár was a Czech architect and the one of the principal founders of modern architecture in Czechoslovakia. Having studied at the State Technical School in Prague, he received his early education and then went on to study at the Prague School of Applied Arts under Jan Kotěra. After graduation, Gočár continued to work under Jan Kotěra at his studio for two years, during which he joined the Mánes Union of Fine Arts. In 1911 Gočár joined a collaboration of...

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  • Bořek Šípek | Famous Czechs Bořek Šípek (1949 - 2016)

    Bořek Šípek, born in Prague in 1949 was a famous Czech architect and designer. He is known around the world for his rich style that has been described as Neo-Baroque, for which he is also known as the father of. Famous for his unique individual style, Šípek often experimented with strange shapes that gave the final appearance of opulence, hence the Father of the Neo-Baroque title. His designs of architecture and glass are well known throughout the world and his...

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  • Jan Saudek | Famous Czechs Jan Saudek (1935 – )

    Jan Saudek, born in Prague, then Czechoslovakia in 1935 is a Czech art photographer known for his dreamy landscapes featuring nudes with hand-tinted decorative elements. The majority of Jan Saudek’s family perished during WWII in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp while he was kept with his brother Karel in a children’s camp near the border of Poland. Saudek’s inspiration to become an art photographer was introduced by The Family of Man photography exhibition by curator Edward Steichen, which started at the...

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  • Bedřich Smetana | Bedřich Smetana Museum Bedřich Smetana (1824 – 1884)

    Bedřich Smetana was a significant Czech composer who is considered to be the founder of modern Czech national music. With his work he significantly influenced further generations of Czech music composers. Bedřich Smetana was born in Litomyšl in a relatively rich family of a brewer and from an early age he was engaged in music, especially in piano playing and composition. From 1843 Smetana lived in Prague where he studied composition with Josef Proksch and after that he worked as...

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  • František Bílek | Famous Czechs František Bílek (1872 – 1941)

    František Bílek, born in Chýnov near the lovely town of Tábor was a Czech architect and an Art Nouveau and Symbolist sculptor. František Bílek started studying at the AVU in Prague (Academy of Fine Arts - Akademie výtvarných umění) but due to his color blindness he began to study sculpture under Josef Mauder in 1888 after which he spent a year in Paris at the Académie Colarossi thanks to a scholarship from his patron Vojtěch Lanna. After studying in Paris...

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  • Josef Sudek | Famous Czechs Josef Sudek (1896 – 1976)

    Josef Sudek was a Czech photographer and is famous for his atmospheric photographs of the beautiful city of Prague. Sudek was originally a bookbinder until he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army where he served on the Italian war front until he was wounded in 1916. His right hand was amputated due to his war wound yet he became interested in photography and with help from loyal assistants he was able to create photography magic. For two years Sudek studied...

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  • Alfons Mucha | Famous Czechs throughout History Alfons Mucha (1860 – 1939)

    Alfons Mucha’s images are known throughout the world, whether they are images of Art Nouveau maidens with soft eyes and wind swept hair sitting in sweet contemplation in their idealyic surroundings symbolizing the four seasons, the twelve months, and Czech nationalism, or posters with pretty Art Nouveau ladies advertising Job Rolling Papers. Mucha became famous in the city of Paris thanks to the posters he created for Job Rolling Papers; these posters intrigued the great Sarah Berhardt, who asked him...

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  • Paulina Pořízková-Ocasek | Famous Czechs Paulina Pořízková-Ocasek (1965 – )

    Born in Prostějov, Czechslovakia in 1965, Paulina Pořízková-Ocasek is now a Swedish-American model and actress. With a controversial start Paulina Pořízková’s parents left Czechoslovakia after the Warsaw Pact Invasion of 68 for Sweden, leaving behind their daughter with her grandmother, as they believed they would be able to easily reunite. The authorities wouldn’t allow this and young Pořízková became something of a national celebrity in Sweden. After a failed rescue attempt by her mother and increasing international pressure from Sweden’s...

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  • Jan Kaplický Jan Kaplický (1937 – 2009)

    Jan Kaplický was a world-famous Czech architect who is revered for being the lead architect at the London-based architectural and design studio Future Systems and for creating avant-garde designs that are whimsical, strange, high tech, futuristic and simply fantastic. His best-known works are the futuristic Selfridges Building in Birmingham, England and the Media Center at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, although his design for the new National Library in Prague is perhaps his most famous idea currently. The design, which...

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  • Ivana Trump | Famous Czechs Ivana Trump (1949 – )

    Ivana Trump (born Ivana Marie Zelníčková Winklmayr) was born in 1949 in Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, now Zlín, Czech Republic. Ivana Trump was a natural talent when it came to skiing, a skill that was encouraged by her father. In 1972 she was selected to be a part of the Czechoslovak Olympic Ski Team, which made it possible for her to travel several times outside of the repressed Communist Bloc of the time. After marrying a childhood friend who had become a...

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  • Eva Herzigová | Famous Czechs Eva Herzigová (1973 – )

    Eva Herzigová was born in Litvínov, Czechoslovakia in 1973. After winning a Prague beauty contest in 1989 at the age of 16, Herzigová moved to Paris and began her impressive modeling career. Her first big international gig launched her face around the world as the Wonderbra girl in the 1990s. After the Wonderbra campaign came a feature in Guess? advertisements that also established her as the fresh new face in the world of modeling. Herzigová has modeled for Victoria’s Secret...

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  • Milan Kundera | Famous Czechs throughout History Milan Kundera (1929 – )

    Milan Kundera is the most successful and translated author to have come out of the Czech lands. Residing in France since 1975, Kundera hardly ever visits the Czech Republic and his overseas novels in French (Slowness, Identity, and Ignorance) have not been translated into his mother tongue as he sees himself the only one fit enough to translate them. His most famous novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1982) was not published in the Czech Republic until 2006, although the...

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  • Karel Gott | Famous Czechs Karel Gott (1939 – )

    Karel Gott, a famous Czech singer is sometimes referred to as the Golden Voice of Prague and it is easy to hear why. With a career spanning over 40 years and a list of hit songs and over 30 million sold albums, everyone adores Karel Gott. Karel Gott has been named the Golden Nightingale, or the best male singer in the Czech Republic for the last 35 years, a title he surely deserves. He started his musical career when he...

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  • Karolina Kurkova | Famous Czechs Karolína Kurková (1984 – )

    Karolína Kurková is a Czech model and an aspiring actress. Born in Děčín, Czechoslovakia, Kurková is the daughter of a Czech basketball player (hence the height) and a Slovak mother and is best known as one of Victoria’s Secret Angels. She was employed in Prague at the age of 15, for an agency that dealt with runway, commercial and print advertising appearances after which she went to Milan and signed a contract with Miuccia Prada of the famous fashion house....

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