This weekend will see thousands of runners take to the streets of Prague for the 14th Prague International Marathon. The main 26-mile event will start on Pařížska Street, off Prague's Old Town Square this Sunday morning. Yet again the race will see not only a line-up of the world's top elite athletes, but also competitors from all walks of life and all around the world. I spoke to the President of the Marathon's Organizing Committee, Carlo Capalbo, about the history of the event and how he has seen it grow over the years.
A one-day international conference on missile was held in Prague on Monday, attended by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Rood, among others. The conference focused on American and European perspectives on missile defense and explores the possibility of incorporating a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic and an interceptor missile base in Poland into a future NATO defense system. Prime Minister Topolánek said in an opening address that he was glad to see NATO had acknowledged the fact that a missile attack by what Washington calls “rogue states” was a real threat and was ready to cooperate on defense matters with Washington.
Last year a design for the new national library by architect Jan Kaplický promised to bring an unprecedented architectural edge to the centre of Prague. But almost from day one, the project has been dogged by controversy. After initial support from the city’s mayor, the gelatinous-like structure nicknamed the Blob or the Octopus, to be situated on Prague’s Letná Plain, drew increasing criticism, including sharp words by Václav Klaus. The project was also challenged by architects who argued the project failed to respect prerequisites of the original
Politicians signed a memorandum on Tuesday which pledged to redirect Prague’s ‘Magistrála’ – a main traffic artery which leads through the heart of the capital. Transport Minister Ales Řebíček, Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek all put their signatures to the document. The plan is to shift the motorway, which currently cuts across the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square, underground, and to scale down its capacity. Prague City Hall has said that the memorandum is by no means binding, but that it would like to see the project realized by 2014.
The Czech crown jewels are being packed away on Tuesday, having been on public display for the last ten days. Over the last week and a half, over 30,000 people have visited Prague Castle to view the crown jewels, which only go on display on special occasions. This year, the jewels were shown to mark the 90th anniversary of an independent Czechoslovakia and President Václav Klaus’s re-election. Seven representatives of church and state gathered ten days ago to unlock the safe in which the jewels were held, they will meet again on Tuesday evening to return the crown jewels to their protective chamber within Prague’s Saint Vitus’ Cathedral.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Prague Mayor Pavel Bém on Tuesday signed a memorandum on a proposed makeover of the Prague city centre. The plans include revamping the Czech capital’s somewhat jaded main thoroughfare Wenceslas Square and redirecting the busy four-lane road (the so-called magistrála), at its top end. The ambitious project could be launched in three years’ time.
Our guest for One on One this week is Jakub Cigler, one half of the duo behind Cigler-Marani – an award-winning firm of architects whose elegant designs have helped them become one of the leaders in their field in this country. Cigler-Marani have been in the news of late because their design has been chosen by the city of Prague to revamp the Czech capital’s somewhat jaded main thoroughfare Wenceslas Square.
The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek recently announced a new initiative to save the government money. The plan revolves around relocating the numerous ministries located in the centre of Prague to less expensive areas of the city. A pilot project is already underway, which could see the Ministry of Trade and Industry uprooted from the historic city centre.
Prague Green Party councilors have said that they are strongly opposed to the idea of building a tunnel under the river Vltava to help ease the capital’s congestion woes. According to the Greens, the project is too expensive and would only create traffic jams in other areas of the city, namely Letná and Holešovice. Councilors for Prague 1 who came up with the idea have reacted by saying that the financial viability of the project will have to be looked into further, but that they believe the tunnel is the best solution to Prague’s traffic problems. Prague Town Hall will decide on the matter by 2010.
During the week, Prague is increasingly a city clogged full of cars. Certain roads in the centre, such as the horrendous multi-laned artery known as Legerová near Prague’s Muzeum have become little more than noisy, polluted, car-choked hellholes in which pedestrians – that’s human beings not in cars to you and me - are pretty secondary to the endless tooting, speeding and often screaming motorists. There’s been talk of doing something about these traffic levels – perhaps tolls for drivers entering the centre – but before the usual “isn’t that a
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