A dramatic week at Prague City Hall seems to be drawing to a close and the Czech capital will be under new management. The city’s grand coalition of the rival Civic and Social Democrats ended abruptly on Monday night, and on Thursday morning a new ruling coalition was announced just as swiftly. The TOP 09 party, which actually won the election to City Hall last fall but has been in opposition ever since, will now have a majority on the council, while the Civic Democrats and Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda will keep the top position. Likely no one was more
The grand coalition of Civic and Social Democrats at Prague City Hall is about to end, a year after it assumed power. In a surprise move, the Civic Democrats in the capital on Tuesday announced they were leaving the ruling bloc, justifying the step by budget and personal issues. However, the unconvincing explanation has given rise to wide-ranging speculation about the real reason behind the reshuffle.
In today’s Spotlight we don’t have to travel too far. Just a forty-five-minute tram ride uphill from the centre of Prague takes us to one of the largest parks in the city. Not long ago, its greenery was untended and the historic building in the middle of it was inhabited by a commune of squatters. But after a recent facelift, Ladronka, as the park is called, now offers something for everybody.
A few days ago the Booker Prize winning Irish writer John Banville was in Prague, to receive one of Europe’s most coveted literary awards, the Franz Kafka Prize. David Vaughan took the opportunity to talk to the writer about his work and his fascination with the cultural and literary world of Central Europe.
The Prague City Gallery has moved another ten of the 20 canvasses of Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic to the capital and plans to complete the move in the coming days. No date has yet been set for when the paintings will be put on display. The gallery says it is negotiating a contract for special wooden structures on which to hang the enormous Art Nouveau works and is arranging special heating for the hall in which they are to be presented.
“What’s a ‘chuchle’” was my first question, a reasonable question I think, when I first learned I would be going to see a ‘big’ one, many years ago. In the end it seems, the name of the premier Czech horse racing flat-track, Velká Chuchle, doesn’t have any literal meaning, but it is a synonym for a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Wenceslas Square in the Czech capital will hold car-free days again next year after holding a trial run last month on September 18. The event was held during the middle of European Mobility Week and car traffic on Prague’s most famous square was stopped for several hours. The mayor of Prague 1, Oldřich Lomecký, told journalists on Wednesday that officials at Prague’s 1’s town hall, business owners and others had registered the event as a success and that next year such days could be held once per month from April – October. Mr Lomecký said on Wednesday that in recent years Wenceslas Square lacked ‘purpose’, suggesting that events like the Christmas market helped revitalise the space. During the Christmas period stalls are set up at the bottom of the square, already set aside for pedestrians.
Cemeteries across the country will soon fill with flowers and burning candles when on All Saints Day people visit the graves of their loved ones. But in Prague, there is one burial ground where few visitors are expected. The Malá Strana cemetery was only in use for about a century, and it now stands out as a unique monument in the middle of the dynamically developing district of Smíchov. A group of local enthusiasts have now got together to save this unique part of the city’s heritage.
The construction of Prague’s controversial Blanka road tunnel will cost
at least 36 billion crowns, or more than 1.9 billion US dollars, Prague
Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said on Tuesday. That is some 28 percent higher than
the originally estimated costs of 28 billion crowns. The tunnel complex,
which should channel through traffic away from the city centre, should be
completed in 2014.
The project of the Blanka tunnel has repeatedly come under criticism as overpriced, and also due to lack of transparency when handing out construction work. The tunnel has also collapsed on several occasions, creating large craters in the city’s Stromovka park.