Charles University was founded by Charles IV, King of Bohemia and later Holy Roman Emperor, on 7 April 1348, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. It was the first university in Central Europe. It originally had four faculties: theology, liberal arts, law and medicine. It was modelled on the universities in Bologna and Paris, and within a short time it achieved international renown. The University currently has 17 faculties (14 in Prague, 1 in Pilsen and 2 in Hradec Králové) and with its nearly 50‚000 students, more than 300 accredited study programmes and 630 study branches, it is the biggest Czech university. The most honoured international charts rank the Charles University among the top 2% of universities worldwide and among the top 100 European universities. Charles University participates in a number of joint programmes with prestigious European and overseas partners and has concluded over 2‚500 interinstitutional agreements (Erasmus +) and more than 200 international partnership agreements with foreign universities from all over the world. The University is also a member of a number of international organizations, such as Coimbra Group, EAIE, EUA, Europaeum, UNICA and others.
The Carolinum is a national cultural monument, the seat of the Rector, and a symbol of Charles University. The building has been named after the University founder Charles IV – Collegium Caroli (Caroline College). It has belonged to the Prague University since 1383 when the founder’s son King Wenceslas IV acquired one of the most impressive Old Town palaces for the college which had been built by a rich patrician, the royal mint master and banker Johlin Rotlev shortly before. Despite its historical origin and monument preservation, the Carolinum is a living area where students and teachers meet. It is used not only for representation, but it is also a scene of the university and cultural life.