If you’re not looking for it then you’ll probably overlook the rather nondescript building of the Ministry of Industry, near the top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square. If, however, you are one of the few who read Prague’s street-side memorial signs, you get the full impact of what the dirty grey, rough-hewn building called Petschek’s Palace means to modern Czech history: “In the time of the Nazi occupation,” it reads, “this building housed the torture chambers of the Gestapo. Fighters for the freedom of our country fought, suffered and died here. We
A tram driver was killed in a collision of two trams on Prague’s Plzenská street early on Monday. No one else was injured in the accident. The collision occurred shortly after six am when the second tram drawing into a station failed to brake properly and ploughed into a stationary vehicle. The driver failed to leave the cabin in time and was trapped in the wreckage. He succumbed to his injuries on the spot. The five passengers riding on the tram were uninjured. The tram route was closed for the entire morning. The damage is being estimated at 10 million crowns.
A statue honoring the late American president Woodrow Wilson was re-installed at Prague’s main train station on Thursday. The original monument, built in 1928, was torn down by the Nazis in 1941. Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, as well as the mayor of Prague 1, Oldřich Lomecký, attended the re-installation of the statue and placed a bronze tube containing historic documents inside the body of the statue. The project, which was initiated by the American Friends of the Czech Republic, took several years to complete. The official unveiling of the statue is scheduled to take place October 5, with President Václav Klaus and foreign guests such as Madeleine Albright set to attend.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is in the Czech Republic for talks regarding the organisation’s transformation and role in global security. The top NATO official will also be discussing military operations in Afghanistan, missile defence and relations with Russia with Prime Minister Petr Nečas, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra. The talks are further expected to cover the participation the Czech Republic in allied operations and missions, the alliance summit in 2012 as well as possible developments in Libya. Regarding the latter, Mr Rasmussen said Wednesday that he has no information regarding the whereabouts of Muammar Gaddafi, and added that he was not a target of NATO’s operations.
Construction workers in the Czech capital on Monday removed a final cubic metre of earth from the city’s Blanka tunnel – built to streamline traffic through busy parts of the city. The end of tunnelling means that traffic restrictions in several above ground areas will now be lifted. But work on the tunnel itself is far from finished.
Czech actress Iva Janžurová and former Czech president and playwright Václav Havel were awarded honorary citizenship of Prague 6 on Friday by the district’s mayor, Marie Kousalíková. At the ceremony Mr Havel was accompanied by his wife Dagmar; it was the former president’s first public appearance in some time. Due to poor health and in order to recover his strength, Mr Havel, who turns 75 in October, has been staying at his cottage. Friday’s ceremony was held at the Břevnov monastery.
The initiative Auto*Mat organized a happening in Prague on Tuesday to propagate the transformation of the city’s Smetanovo nábřeží street, a stretch along the river near Charles Bridge, into a pedestrian zone. Participants wore masks featuring the face of Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and symbolically opened a pedestrian zone along the riverbank, which draws a high number of tourists every day. Auto*Mat has put up a petition to transform the stretch into a pedestrian zone online. The initiative’s Vít Matare said that Smetanovo nábřeží was an embarrassment for the Czech capital. He said that the stretch along the river featured some of the city’s most beautiful sights, yet its appeal was marred by the many cars passing through it, as well as the frequent traffic jams. He added that in 2005, then mayor Pavel Bém had pledged to curb traffic along the river.
In a meeting with Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague Castle on Tuesday, President Václav Klaus criticized the government’s foreign policy concept. Mr. Klaus, who received the Czech diplomats in town for a week-long meeting at Prague Castle, said that the government’s concept lacked content, did not address key questions and problematic areas of foreign policy. On Monday, Czech ambassadors met with Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. In addressing the country’s ambassadors, Mr. Nečas stressed the Czech Republic should support Europe’s quest for fiscal discipline, take a prudent stance regarding the adoption of the euro and forge stronger business links with potential partners outside Europe in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. In view of the present economic situation, the prime minister added that business diplomacy was of strategic importance. Mr. Schwarzenberg underlined the crucial role of European integration, a concept that the Czech president has criticized.
Prague’s Žižkov district will name one of its streets after Olga Havlová, the deceased first wife of ex-president Vaclav Havel. The former first lady was extremely popular with the public and often proclaimed herself to be a Žižkov patriot, the district where she was born and grew up. Olga Havlová died of cancer in 1996.
Prague residents have been marking the 120th anniversary of the famous Petřín tower and funicular on Petřín hill. Organisers put together a series of events for visitors on Saturday which wrap-up at five pm local time. Free admission has been on offer for those arriving in 19th century costume. Historic vehicles, including antique fire trucks, are on view near the venue. Petřín Tower - the Czech capital’s answer to the Eiffel Tower in Paris – was completed for the Prague Jubilee of 1891.
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