In the jumble of alleyways that is Prague’s Old Town, if you look carefully, you’ll make out the form of the ancient fortress of Ungelt, built over with baroque and renaissance facades, but still standing after 1000 years. This is the customs house of Ungelt, where foreign merchants came to store their wares, and a reminder that Prague has always been a cosmopolitan, multinational city ever since its earliest days.
In today’s Spotlight Radio Prague visits an early Baroque palace known as Michnův palác in the historic quarter of Malá strana. Built in the 16th century, it first belonged to the Micha family before it became munitions factory in the mid-1700s. In the early 20th century, after the founding of Czechoslovakia, it was sold to the patriotic Sokol sport and gymnastics organisation, which renovated it and named it Tyršův dům (or Tyrs’ House) after its main founder.
Before the computer age, Prague city planners used a large 3D model of the capital to see what new buildings, roads and other features would look like in the given environment. But 10 years ago, the model was replaced by digital technologies; now it has been put to a new use. With new interactive features, the model has gone on display in one of the city’s shopping malls.
Deep beneath the city of Prague is another city altogether, one that most people are completely unaware of, and that they’ll hopefully never see. It is a system of hundreds upon hundreds of concrete bunkers with their own electricity, water and ventilation systems awaiting the day that you might hear the air-raid sirens wailing.
Prague’s Hlavní nádraží or Main Station was once a dank and depressing place, not somewhere you’d wish to linger a moment longer than necessary. Over the past few years, however, it’s undergone a 50-million-euro makeover at the hands of the Italian firm Grandi Stazioni. On Thursday the presidents of Italy and the Czech Republic snipped the ceremonial tape on the station’s new concourse.
Representatives of Prague 3 are holding a special meeting to discuss the fate of the large rail cargo station in the borough of Žižkov. The meeting is taking place at the behest of the opposition, which is opposed to the destruction of the station and is asking the district town hall to change its stance. The district government and Czech Railways are interested in refurbishing the area, building flats for thousands of people as well as office space and commercial centres. The plan to tear down the functionalist-style station has drawn the ire of several experts and civic associations who consider it a valuable work of architecture. The Ministry of Culture is to decide on whether the building will be protected.
Prague’s main Easter market opened on Saturday on Old Town Square with over 90 stalls selling traditional Easter decorations, local specialties and souvenirs. Over the next fortnight locals and tourists will be able to enjoy outdoor theatre performances, live music and workshops at which people can try their hand at various arts and crafts.
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:
Prague’s famous astronomical clock known as the Orloj, dating back to 1410 and gracing the tower of the Old Town Hall, is one of the city’s biggest attractions, drawing crowds on the hour every single day. The chimes and a famous procession of apostles (moving sculptures) in the clock’s windows, are a must for any visitor, and are no doubt the subject of countless youtube videos and family photos. But anyone visiting on the Old Town Square these days has been less than lucky and won’t see the famous clock in operation: on Monday it was turned off
Members of the Prague city council for the opposition TOP 09 party called on Thursday on deputy mayor Karel Březina, from the Social Democrats, to step down. Mr Březina faces unspecified charges in connection with his membership on the boards of several firms that went bankrupt. Mr Březina, who denies any wrongdoing and has filed a complaint against the police actions, can rely on support from his party and well as the Civic Democrats who control the City Hall.
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