The Czech Ministry of Regional Development has earmarked 621 million crowns, or some 28.5 million US dollars, for the renovation of historical landmarks, buildings and other monuments, a spokeswoman for the ministry said. The objects to receive funding include Brno’s Špilberk castle, the Velehrad monastery, a burger’s house in Třeboň, and others. The funds, most of which proceed from the EU, will have to be allocated by the end of next year, the ministry said.
Punk as an artistic style is usually associated with music and fashion but Prague’s Jaroslav Fragner Gallery now explores punk elements in architecture. The exhibition, featuring structures built over the span of five centuries, looks as what elements of the punk movement can be identified in historic and contemporary architecture in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Countless Hollywood movies and TV series have been shot in the Czech Republic in the last two decades. Casting director Nancy Bishop, who moved to Prague in 1994, has worked on many of those projects, from The Bourne Identity to Mission Impossible IV to the as yet unreleased Child 44. We began our tour of “her Prague” at Náměstí Míru, a square close to where she lives. As Bishop and I spoke, a passer-by tinkled the ivories on a free piano metres from our bench.
The sorry state of hundreds of Czech historical buildings and other registered landmarks has prompted a radical proposal. Deputy Czech ombudsman Stanislav Křeček has suggested that regardless of who owns a monument the authorities should pay for its renovation – and then demand that the owner foots the bill. In the most severe cases, the state should be able to confiscate the properties.
Deputy Ombudsman Stanislav Křeček has criticized the state for failing to adequately protect the country’s cultural heritage. In connection with a highly-publicized case of a protected building in Ostrava which was allowed to go to ruin without anyone being held responsible, Křeček has urged a tightening of the law which would hold the state responsible for the repair and maintenance of cultural monuments which their owners cannot afford to undertake, and seek financial compensation at a later stage. According to official statistics over 700 of the country’s 40 thousand cultural monuments are in urgent need of repair.
An expert on the history of Prague, architect Petr Kučera regularly posts fascinating galleries on Facebook documenting the city’s development. He draws on an extensive archive of photos and plans to show how districts have changed, as well as highlighting unrealised projects that would have transformed Prague even further. In addition, the 29-year-old works for Cigler Marani, the architecture firm charged with rejuvenating Wenceslas Square. When we met at his office, I asked Petr Kučera what had led him to start creating his online galleries.
The Czech Republic boasts perhaps one of the strangest associations around, a group dedicated to climbing industrial chimneys in their spare time. And the more than 30 year old organisation, which started with a small group of teenagers in the Communist era climbing a heat plant chimney at night in the suburbs of Prague is now going from strength to strength. It is though, getting more difficult to find new chimneys to climb.
The Prague Vitruvius is an extremely useful website for anybody interested in perhaps the Czech capital’s greatest asset: its unparalleled wealth of architecture. The blog is the work of Englishman Alex Went, who has created close to 300 entries taking in both tourist sights and largely unknown gems in the suburbs. When we spoke at the Vinohrady Pavilion – designed by one of his favourite Prague architects – I asked Went what had brought him to the city in the first place.
One of the Czech Republic’s iconic landmarks will be handed back to the Roman Catholic Church following a decision by the country’s custodian of historic buildings and sites, the National Heritage Institute. The decision forms part of the settlement with religious institutions following the confiscation of most of their property by the former Communist regime. Decisions about other significant sites are also pending.
The National Heritage Institute which is responsible for the protection and preservation of the country’s historical monuments has over 100 palaces, castles and manor houses in its care. Over the past 20 years it has worked hard to restore many of those long-neglected buildings to their former glory and today they represent the best part of the country’s national heritage. Regrettably, many of those outside Prague remain undiscovered by foreign tourists. Tomáš Brabec of the National Heritage Institute says this is something that the institute is