In most respects 2016 was a good year for tourism not least in the Czech capital, which saw yet another increase in the number of visitors. But there were complications as well, among them heightened security introduced at Prague Castle mid-season which led to unexpected and unprecedented lines, at least for a time. Still, on the whole, Prague offers more and better possibilities than ever, something Radio Prague discussed with the head of Prague City Tourism, Nora Dolanská. We began by asking her first how she rated 2016 overall.
Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš has suggested a new government quarter be created on the northern outskirts of Prague which would allow the sell-off of lucrative real estate in the centre of the city. Babiš has suggested the new government area housing around 11,000 officials could be sited at Letňany, the Právo paper reported. Empty fields there surround the Letňany meto station which at one stage were earmarked as a possible site for a Prague bid for the summer Olympic games. The exodus could be led by the Ministry of Finance with other ministries and agencies following, the paper says.
The US Embassy in Prague chose an original way of wishing Czechs Merry Christmas this year. It posted a video on its web page showing embassy employees singing one of the best loved Czech Christmas carols Půjdem spolu do Betléma –We will go to Bethlehem Together –in the original. The video starts with Cultural Attaché Erin Kotheimer and Ray Castillo, Counselor for Public Affairs breaking into song and other employees joining in as they walk around the US residence. At the end Ambassador Andrew Schapiro joins them to wish Czechs a Merry Christmas on behalf of all the staff.
The Prague metro station IP Pavlova on line C was closed for over an hour on Thursday over a security scare. Police cleared out the station after a passenger reported an abandoned backpack. Trains were allowed to pass through. Explosives experts searched the backpack and found nothing suspicious. The station reopened shortly before midday.
More than half Prague Segway rental sites have shut down since the Czech capital introduced a ban on the two-wheeled vehicles in most of the city centre. Czech Radio reported that so far this month, police stopped some 18 users, leading to symbolic fines of 100 crowns being handed out. They, however, can run as high as 2,000 crowns (around 74 euros).
The authorities in Prague 6 have closed a competition to design a monument to a fictional character created by the playwright, dissident and former president Václav Havel. Protagonist Ferdinand Vaněk, who appeared in four Havel plays, is being honoured in this way as part of events marking what would have been the 80th anniversary of his creator’s death. Twenty-three designs for a “Vaněk bench” were submitted and councillors are due to pick a winner on Thursday.
Prague police have made arrests in connection with the robbery of three luxury stores in the city in which some CZK 34 million worth of jewellery was taken. At a news conference on Monday the police said the men were members of two international gangs, one chiefly made up of citizens of the former Yugoslavia and the other mainly comprising people from the former USSR. Those arrested face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
Police on Saturday stopped a total of seven people by roughly mid-day for riding Segways in Prague's historic centre where the vehicles are banned. In two cases, the riders were foreign nationals who were given symbolic and low fines of 100 crowns (less than four euros). Police have the right to fine riders up to 2,000 crowns. Prague city councillors approved the ban on the use of Segways on roads and sidewalks in the historic centre in July but the ban was not enforced before some 600 traffic signs highlighting the ban were installed in areas.
After over a quarter of a century in the city, curator Richard Drury is a well-known face in Prague’s art world. The Englishman – who studied Czech at Cambridge – works at the Gallery of Central Bohemia and is also the head of the Fine Arts Section of Umělecká beseda, a cultural association with a history stretching back to the days of the Czech National Revival. Our tour of “Richard Drury’s Prague” begins by Bílá Hora in Prague 6 at the Hvězda game reserve, which gets its name from the star-shaped summer palace at its heart.
British singer-songwriter Sting will be the main star of Prague’s Metronome festival, which will take place in the Czech capital in June, the festival's organiser Roman Helcl told the Czech News Agency on Friday. The former frontman of the rock band Police will perform with his three-member band, including guitarist Dominic Miller. Tickets go on sale on December 12.