Just a few minutes’ walk from Prague Castle, the monumental Černín Palace stands out in Hradčany’s Loreto Square. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries as the residence of the Černín aristocratic family, the Baroque palace now houses the Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic. But the history of the largest of Prague’s Baroque palaces has seen more than politics – it has witnessed ambition, corruption and even a mystery death.
It’s Wednesday night and Kino Aero in Prague’s Žižkov district is swarming with people. Despite it’s slightly run down interior and uncomfortable creaky chairs this small cinema has become a legendary venue here in Prague and people don’t mind spending the extra twenty minutes or so that it takes to get here from the city centre. Kino Aero has just recently celebrated ten years of its existence and I went to meet its manager Ivo Andrle to find out what exactly it is that makes the place so special:
Pavel Hnilička is a Prague-based architect and town planner who has authored one of the first books about urban sprawl in the Czech Republic called Sídelní kaše, roughly translatable as Urban or Residential Soup. Prague and other cities and towns in the country have seen unprecedented development in recent years, which the author says is largely indistinguishable from homogenous sprawl witnessed elsewhere in Europe or even North America, albeit on a far smaller scale. I met with the architect at his office in a leafy part of Prague recently to
It is exactly a year since the Czech-born London-based architect Jan Kaplický won an international competition for a new National Library building on Prague’s Letná Plain, not far from Prague Castle. Twelve months later, it still isn’t clear whether the futuristic gold-and-purple building, nicknamed “the Blob”, will ever be built in the Czech capital. The controversial design has stirred a heated debate among architects and politicians; among its biggest opponents are Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and the country’s president, Václav Klaus.
Around one hundred people turned out on Wenceslas Square on Sunday afternoon to commemorate the Communist coup of 1948. The majority of those present were young people, from the Scouts, the Young Christian Democrats and the Young Conservatives in particular. There were, however, also several older people there who had witnessed the events of February 1948 first hand. They addressed the crowds - in the words of one of the other orators, Mirko Št’astný - ‘to remind them of the horrors that the Czech people lived through’ during the communist period. It was on Wenceslas Square on February 25, 1948, that thousands gathered calling for the then president, Edvard Beneš, to resign, and for Communist Prime Minister Klement Gottwald to replace him at Prague Castle.
I am standing on Prague’s magistrála, an artery cutting through the centre of Prague. If you have ever visited the Czech capital you could hardly have failed to notice the main road which cuts across the top of Prague’s main square, Wenceslas Square. It was built in the early 1970s to ease growing traffic in the capital, but it soon became a nightmare for the people living along the magistrála. It was originally designed for 20 000 vehicles a day at the most, but nowadays nearly five times as many cars drive through the city each day. So, how come
A team from the UN’s education, science and culture body is set to travel to Prague to assess if the Czech Republic is doing enough to protect its historical landmarks. UNESCO has already expressed concern over the number of skyscrapers being built in the Czech capital’s Pankrác region. In the worst case scenario, the Czech Republic could be struck of the UNESCO list of countries that are actively preserving protecting their architectural heritage.
In Business News this week: Analysts predict economic growth this year unlikely to surpass that of 2007; Prague is found to be the twelfth richest region in the EU; the European Commission advises the Czech Republic to cut its number of public service employees; Czech ships transport more than 2 million tonnes of freight in 2007, and the country’s shoemakers produced over 5.5 million pairs of shoes last year.
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