A member of the country’s large Vietnamese community, Mimi Lan Nguyen came to the Czech Republic in the early 1990s while still in her early teens. Today she is a successful fashion designer with a flagship boutique on the capital’s Štěpánská St. The shop is actually on the outside of the grand city centre Lucerna Palace, and it was there that Mimi began introducing me to “her Prague”.
The city of Prague has been handed an 11 million crown fine by the country’s anti-monopoly bureau in the case of a recently opened bridge in Troja built as part of the city’s extensive Blanka tunnel complex. The city was penalized for not sticking to an original design plan, which came with a less than half-a-billion crown price tag and not the 1.3 billion the bridge eventually cost. The original design was meant to be revised under the administration of former mayor Pavel Bém but was not. The decision is not binding and City Hall has already said it will appeal. The anti-monopoly office is also investigating other aspects of the Blanka Tunnel project.
Prague Castle, which is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square metres, is set to undergo some significant restoration work this year. The reconstruction, which concerns for instance the Old Royal Palace and Saint Vitus Cathedral, is expected to cost some 290 million crowns. I spoke to František Kadlec of the Prague Castle Administration, who says the restoration of the castle buildings is a never-ending process:
A number of renovation projects are planned for Prague Castle this year. A spokesperson for the Prague Castle Administration told the Czech News Agency that the façades of the complex’s Deer Moat, Riding School and one wing of the Old Royal Palace would be renovated while some work will also be done on St. Vitus’ Cathedral. Those four projects will take up around CZK 140 million of CZK 292 million earmarked for repairs this year at Prague Castle, which is the city’s most visited landmark.
Prague Castle is considered one of the symbols of the Czech state. Once the seat of Bohemian kings, it now houses the Office of the Czech President, and its museums and galleries annually attract millions of visitors. But for over a hundred years, Prague Castle was half-forgotten. With the imperial court residing in Vienna throughout the 19th century, the castle only served as a luxurious hotel for the royal family and their relatives and friends. A recently published book of memoirs entitled A Greeting from the Castle Hill now offers an insider’s
Prague City Hall which earlier announced plans to lower the price of pre-paid annual coupons for city transport, says the reduction will not be made before mid-2015 and there will be no compensation for people who have already acquired their annual ticket. The new coalition at Prague City Hall promised to reduce the price of annual tickets by 1,100 crowns from the present 4,750. The new administration is hoping the move will encourage more people to use public transport and thereby reduce the amount of traffic in the city center.
A Prague court has started insolvency proceedings against the popular Jan Paukert delicatessen store on Prague’s Narodni street. The owner reportedly owes half a million crowns in rent. The store which sells the Czech open-faced sandwiches and top-quality food and wine from around the world was established in 1916. In 1952 it was nationalized by the communist regime, to be returned to the Paukert family in 1991.
A 45-year-old man accidentally shot himself with a gun in Prague on Monday evening and had to be taken to hospital with a serious head injury, a police spokesman said on Tuesday. The incident was likely caused by unprofessional handling of the gun. The police subsequently searched the man’s apartment and found 21 weapons, including several guns and revolvers, a machine gun and a grenade. The man, who didn’t have a firearms license, will be charged with illegal possession of weapons.
The Prague City Hall is taking special measures for the end-of-year celebrations in the Czech capital. Some 350 policemen, seven ambulances and three firefighter units will be out in force on New Year’s Eve to ensure public safety at the open-air celebrations in Prague. The main events will traditionally take place at the top end of Wenceslas Square and at the Old Town Square. Some streets in the city centre will be closed for transport in the evening and during the night.
A charity concert in honour of Czechoslovakia’s first post-communist president, Václav Havel, is being held on Monday night at Prague’s Lucerna Palace. The former dissident and playwright, who died in 2011, was elected president for the first time on this day 25 years ago. Bands performing on Monday include Cuban punk anti-communists Porno para Ricardo, whose frontman was repeatedly jailed by the Castro regime. Russian folk band Arkadiy Kots, supporters of Pussy Riot when its members were jailed, will also take to the stage as well as the Plastic People of the Universe and others.
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