When I first lived here in the mid 1990s, many Czechs would tell me that they very rarely went into the centre of Prague. It’s full of foreigners, they would say, it’s too expensive, it just isn’t a place for us. C’mon, I would counter, it isn’t that bad – and you can’t just give up on the historical heart of your own city.
The Globe and Mail has voiced reservations regarding the appointment of Czech-born Otto Jelínek as Canada’s ambassador to the Czech Republic. The paper says the communist refugee, world-champion figure skater and Mulroney era cabinet minister returned to the Czech Republic in 1994 where he spent 18 years and developed a wide range of business and personal connections which questions his ability to represent and advocate for Canada. The Globe and Mail moreover points out that Mr. Jelínek was associated with a still unresolved corruption scandal linked to the suspect acquisition of fighter jets for the Czech military.
A row over whether the Roman Catholic Church has the right to the return of buildings and land at Prague Castle has put the issue of church restitution back in the news. The debate has seen tempers fray – and, if a left-wing government is formed, could prefigure a roll-back on some aspects of the restitution law.
In this week’s Arts my guest is New York-based landscape architect Martin Barry who last year launched a new festival and conference in Prague called reSITE, focussing on urbanism and rethinking the public space. To this aim, he and organisers involved everyone from internationally recognised designers and urban planners, to students of arts and architecture, and last, but not least, politicians.
A group of statues comprising Christ the Saviour and Saints Cosmas and Damian has been returned to Prague’s Charles Bridge. A team of restorers commissioned by the City Gallery Prague cleaned, treated and repaired the original Baroque statues over a three-year period. A spokesperson for the gallery said on Thursday that in time it would probably replace all of the original statues on the 14th century bridge with copies.
The inaugural Signal festival of light got underway in Prague on Thursday evening. The event, which runs over four nights, features leading European video mapping teams projecting moving images on to four buildings in the city, as well as dozens of installations created by Czech artists. The festival takes place between 19:30 and 23:30 every night and is free.
The controversial documentary depicting the Czech capital as a city of fraudsters and pickpockets aired on the National Geographic Channel last November was not filmed by the company’s own reporters but was acquired from Zig Zag Productions, the internet news site novinky.cz reports. The news site claims it has an exclusive interview with the documentary’s director Conor Woodman who allegedly spent ten days in Prague shooting at various locations and using hired actors to play out scenarios of tourists getting ripped off by taxi drivers, prostitutes and drug dealers. Prague is considering suing National Geographic over the report claiming in is manipulative and damages the city’s reputation.
Prague’s Smetana Embankment in the centre of the city closes for cars on Saturday, in the final installment of a pro-pedestrian campaign. Passers-by have a chance to see films as well as art and design exhibits in the area between 8 AM and 10 PM. The campaign, entitled Embankment lives, started in mid-September; organizers say they want people to experience one of Prague’s busiest areas without cars, and ultimately turn a section of the embankment into a permanent pedestrian zone.
An American writer and journalist specialised in travel and food and drink (in particular beer), Evan Rail has been living in the Czech capital since the year 2000. For the last half decade, he’s called the city’s Petrské náměstí home; in this edition of My Prague, Rail shows me around his neighbourhood, which despite being only five minutes’ walk from Náměstí Republiky is still somewhat off the beaten path.
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