Prague may be famed for its fine old baroque architecture, but what about its newer structures? To mark International Architecture Week, a number of walking tours, open days and lectures have been organized to shine the spotlight on modern architecture in the Czech capital. Petr Soukup is one of the organizers of the festival, which is now in its third year.
Today in Mailbox: Radio Prague’s new website, shortwave reception in Australia and New Zealand, response from listeners in Canada and the US, Václav Klaus’s new book on climate change, message for George Scott from England from Frank Muzika. Listeners quoted: Bob Boundy, Charles Konecny, Shelagh Webster, Thomas and Carolyn Atkinson, Barrie Van Devender, Frank Muzika.
Prague’s Old Town Square may be famous for its grandeur and architectural beauty, but it is, in fact, a shadow of its former self. A great chunk of the Old Town Hall building was decimated by the Nazis at the end of the war, and has never been rebuilt. To this day, a rather bare park stands where most of the building once did. And across from the famous Jan Hus sculpture used to be a towering Marian column, built in 1650 and felled in 1918, by Czechs who felt it symbolized the country’s Habsburg past.
In this week’s Magazine: Prague officials respond to The Times calling Wenceslas Square one of the sleaziest tourist streets in Europe; the authorities in a small Czech town adopt a novel approach to combating vandalism; a Czech illusionist sets new records in escaping from handcuffs while underwater; a couple exchange wedding vows beneath the surface of a reservoir; and a Czech literary award goes to a young member of the Vietnamese community.
Speaking in Prague on Friday, the Dalai Lama said it was not possible to force China into becoming democratic – rather such change should come from within, he said. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader made the comments at a two-day conference on peace in Asia, which was also attended by a leader of China’s Uighur Muslim minority, Rebija Kadeer. She said the international community should pressure Beijing into improving human rights. Former Czech president Václav Havel, whose Forum 2000 organised the conference, said it was intended to show support for human rights activists in China, Tibet, North Korea, Burma and elsewhere in the region.
Some years ago I attended a news conference at an upmarket Italian style restaurant in Prague’s Slovanský dům, a palace at the Náměstí Republiky end of Na Příkopě St. The event, something to do with athletics, took place outside in the then quite recently renovated building’s courtyard. It was at least five minutes before it hit me – wait a second, I know this place, this used to be the beer garden!
This Saturday, the National Museum in Prague will open its newest building to the public, the former Prague bourse, former building of the Federal Parliament, and until only recently, the headquarters for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Located across from the neo-Renaissance National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square, the neighboring glass-and-steel building will house new exhibits starting this autumn.
After months of criticism, Prague City Hall has admitted mistakes were made in the reconstruction of Charles Bridge, one of the capital’s most significant landmarks. City Hall has fined itself some 54,000 crowns (just under 3,000 USD) for the shortcomings – a fine which has been branded by some as ‘meaningless’ and ‘ridiculous’.
Matthew Stillman is the boss of the Czech Republic’s biggest production company for foreign films, Stillking Films. It has produced some of the blockbusters that have tapped into Czech skills and locations over the last 15 years. At his main office in the heart of Prague’s Barrandov Studios, I asked Mr Stillman how he came to the Czech capital in the first place.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Škoda unveils 4th-generation Octavia ahead of model’s 60th anniversary
15 years later – was ending military service right move for Czech Republic?