The Czech Republic boasts hundreds of castles, chateaux, and churches which annually attract millions of visitors. Regular maintenance is a must – a task that requires not just a considerable amount of money but an army of professionals highly skilled in the reconstruction of precious historical sites. The Czech National Heritage Institute has just launched a pilot project aimed at educating new specialists in the field.
The Office of the President has been ordered to return a building seized by Czechoslovakia’s former Communist regime to relatives of the original owners. The family home, located within the vicinity of Prague Castle, was seized by the state in 1957 for security reasons. The state now has three days upon receiving the verdict to sign an agreement with the family on restitution. Although the decision is binding, the Office of the President is reportedly considering taking the matter to the Supreme Court.
The Czech Republic boasts hundreds of castles, chateaux, and summer palaces visited by countless visitors each year. It is, in short, one of the biggest attractions. The new season began on April 1 (individual sites may vary) and in this week’s In Focus, I talk with The National Heritage Institute’s Simona Juračková about upcoming exhibitions and events not to be missed.
Hundreds of people participated in demonstrations in the Czech Republic on Saturday in protest at Russia’s military incursion into Crimea, where a referendum on the Ukrainian region’s future is being held on Sunday. The biggest gathering took place by a statute of TG Masaryk at Prague Castle, where around 150 people condemned Moscow’s actions. Among a number of speakers were pro-European demonstrators from the Ukrainian capital who have received medical treatment in the Czech Republic.
President Miloš Zeman will mark the first anniversary of his inauguration with a celebration at the Spanish Hall at Prague Castle on Friday. Over 250 people have been invited, including supporters of the head of state’s presidential campaign and figures from the spheres of public life and culture. However it is not an official state event and no politicians will be in attendance. Critics have questioned Mr. Zeman’s relatively broad interpretation of the powers of his office and interventions in party politics, though others credit him with an active and pro-European presidency.
Miloš Zeman has improved the image of the Czech Republic since being appointed president on March 8 last year, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on the eve of the former’s first anniversary in office. While his predecessor Václav Klaus was a Eurosceptic, Mr. Zeman is avowedly pro-European and returned the EU flag to Prague Castle after his appointment. Mr. Sobotka said he had noticed the Czech Republic had a better image while on foreign trips.
Former UK prime minister Tony Blair is set to visit Czech President Miloš Zeman at his Lány residence near Prague on Saturday evening. Mr. Blair will sign a memorial book at the chateau before a meeting with the head of state. The two left wingers’ prime ministerial terms overlapped: Mr. Blair led a New Labour government in Great Britain from 1997 to 2007, while Mr. Zeman helmed a Social Democrats government from 1998 to 2002.
Restorers were on Tuesday due to remove the remaining statues on a Marian plague column on the main square in the Prague Castle complex. Three other statues were taken down at the start of the month. The decorations and the entire column, which is protected, are in a poor state and need to be repaired. The main work is scheduled to get underway this year with the monument expected to be returned to its former glory in 2016.
In a Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman reflected on how he had fulfilled his election promises to voters. In a short address broadcast live by Czech public radio and television, Mr. Zeman highlighted five areas in which he had promised action, including improving relations with the EU and stabilizing the situation at the Constitutional Court. The president pointed out that the EU flag was now flying at Prague Castle and the Constitutional Court, which had come close to paralysis for lack of judges, was now complete and functioning. Mr. Zeman said that the most problematic of his promises was that to unite Czech society rather than dividing it, but argued that in preventing the return of a centre-government to office and opening the way for early general elections he had addressed that matter as well. In parting the president wished Czechs health and happiness in the coming year and thanked the outgoing Rusnok government for its work.