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.
A Marian column that stood on Prague’s Old Town Square for some 270 years is to be re-erected this year, according to the daily Lidové noviny. Citing Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, the paper writes that the long reconstruction of the column is nearly complete and that its return to the historic square must yet be approved by the city council. The column was erected in 1650 to give thanks for the protection of Prague during the Thirty Years War. Locals however viewed it as a symbol of the Austrian, Catholic, domination of the country and it was torn down by a crowd in 1918. A fountain from the 16th century may also be rebuilt in the next two years as part of a restoration of Old Town Square.
Olga Havlová Street, named after the first wife of the late former President Václav Havel, was inaugurated on Wednesday in the Prague neighbourhood of Žižkov. The street is located in a newly develop area in the eastern part of the neighbourhood. Olga Havlová, née Šípková, was born in Žižkov in 1933; she died of cancer in 1996. The head of the Committee of Good Will, established by Olga Havlová in 1990, said it took the authorities 13 years to name a street after the former first lady.
The first major retrospective of photographer Jan Reich opened at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The exhibition presents more than 400 photographs focusing on his images of Prague from the 1950s to the 1980s, the derelict landscape of the Sudetenland, his takes of the Bohemian countryside as well as spiritually-inspiring sites of Bohemia. Jan Reich, who is considered one of the classics of Czech photography, died in 2009 aged 67. The exhibit at the Theresian Wing of Prague Castle runs until August.
An estimated 100,000 people joined an anti-government protest march though the centre of Prague on Saturday. The massive show of discontent with the government’s reforms was organized by the country’s umbrella trade union organization which is demanding the resignation of the centre-right cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Trade unions have accused the government of impoverishing the weakest groups of the population with what they call unnecessarily harsh austerity measures, particularly seniors, handicapped and chronically ill people and families with children. Representatives from the opposition Social Democrats and Communist Party joined the march in a show of solidarity.
Prague City Hall has toned down its campaign to attract British “Olympic avoiders” to the Czech capital during the London Summer Olympics, the Czech daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday. The campaign presents Prague as a destination where Londoners can take part in the “Prague games” events such as panoramathon, heavy-weight shopping, kafkarate, free-style kissing and others. However, Prague City Hall decided to drop two motifs – synchronized drinking and morning slalom, alluding to drinking and partying – over the UK’s ban of associating alcohol with sports in advertising.
After years of growth, the real estate market in the Czech capital has seen a slow but steady decline, with decreasing prices and many more new listings having turned Prague property into a buyer’s market. One factor behind the change is waning interest from foreigners to invest into real estate in the Czech capital. However, some parts of Prague have become more attractive for Czechs and foreigners alike, while others remain popular primarily with foreign clients.
Dozens of Prague residents paid tribute to homeless people who died from exposure in the winter months with a minute of quiet at the Woodrow Wilson statue near the Czech capital’s main station on Saturday. Among the participants of the gathering were some homeless men and women as well as people working for homeless charities. In honor of the homeless who died this winter was laid down near the statue. Organizers said that unfortunately, people living in affluent societies were getting used to the existence of abject poverty and that the event was meant to highlight the need for social change within Europe.
The Prague Transport authority has announced that due to maintenance work a section of the C-line of the Prague metro will be out of operation between Friday night and Tuesday morning. The metro will not run between the stations Muzeum and Pražské Povstání. A replacement bus service will be available for passengers.
Tucked away on Řetězová street in Prague’s Old Town, Café Montmartre is one of the city’s oldest coffeehouses. While it looks rather unassuming from the outside, the former cabaret has a fascinating history. Famous writers such as Franz Kafka and Egon Erwin Kisch are said to have spent many a wild night here, and Café Montmartre continues to draw artists, writers and actors. We spoke to its manager, Iva Nesvadbová, about the café’s history, its guests and its upcoming anniversary.
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