Prague is home to some of the most exquisite medieval architecture – and not to mention some of the finest beer – in Europe. But the number of foreign visitors was down some 20% in the first three months of this year, bad news for a city so dependent on tourism. The Prague Tourist Board has now taken the unprecedented step of “outsourcing” the running of seven of the city’s most famous towers to a private company, a move that not everyone is happy with.
Prague City Hall’s legal battle against taxi drivers spilled over into the streets of the capital on Thursday, as taxi drivers clashed with police over a lucrative taxi-stand on Old Town Square. Two taxi drivers were arrested on the spot, two were taken to hospital and several of them may be charged with attacking a civil servant.
It had been home to Prague’s last remaining squat; now it’s lying empty, its future uncertain. The fate of the Milada villa – and of the small anarchist collective who’d been living in it - has dominated headlines in the Czech media over the last few days since the last squatters were removed from the building. But an improvised plan to relocate the squatters has also ruffled feathers.
Prague slipped down the rankings of most expensive town for expatriates this year by more than 40 places. In a study conducted by consultancy firm Mercer in 2008, Prague was judged the 29th most expensive town for expats to live in on the planet. This year, Prague ranked 70th on the list. For the study, the cost of accommodation and over 200 different items were noted in 143 cities around the globe. Top of this year’s poll was Tokyo, while the second most expensive place to settle was Osaka. Moscow and Geneva came third and fourth respectively.
This year, as we mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, we are reminded how much of twentieth century history has passed through the Czech capital. The focus of much that has happened in Prague over the last hundred years has been Wenceslas Square, tree-lined and nearly a kilometre long, right at the heart of the city, and with the bronze statue of the Czech patron, Saint Wenceslas, standing guard at the top of the square. One person who has lived on Wenceslas Square nearly all her life is Věra Kölbelová. From her unique vantage point
In related news, Prague’s emergency council decided on Sunday to erect anti-flood barriers to protect the city’s historic centre from flooding. A low, level one flood warning will remain in place for the Vltava River until mid-week. The Czech capital was heavily hit by floods in 2002; a new anti-flood system was put in place to prevent any such disaster in the future.
There are many festivals in and around Prague celebrating all the wonderful facets of this city imaginable. But until this weekend, there was never a festival that feted the city itself. Now the “Oslavy Prahy”, or Celebrations of Prague, festival is going to do just that. The three-day festival aims to turn Prague into what its organisers describe as “a paradise of music, film, theatre, art, sport, science, fashion, adrenalin and dance.”
One of the biggest cultural events of the season in the Czech Republic, the annual Shakespeare Summer Festival, has just begun at the Supreme Burgrave’s House at Prague Castle. Opening the festival on Thursday night was a new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, starring the great Czech comic actor Bolek Polívka as Falstaff and directed by the Oscar-winning filmmaker Jiří Menzel.
The city of Prague has decided to drop its bid to host the 2020 summer Olympic Games. City officials said on Tuesday that under the current economic circumstances, City Hall wanted to focus on mitigating the effects of the crisis. Radio Prague spoke to Alexandr Kliment of the Czech Olympic Committee to find out how they feel about the decision.
Major new residential and office district to go up in Prague’s Hagibor district
From underground bunkers to “Fire Mountain”: how Prague’s poorest have lived over the centuries
Czechs set to go beyond EU proposals on ‘dual quality’ foods, products with outright ban
Czech hiking trails mark 130 years
Rainbow Map of Europe shows relative position of sexual minorities worsening in Czechia