Fifty historic palaces, towers, churches and other monuments in Prague are open to the public free of charge this weekend as the city marks the 20th anniversary of its inclusion of UNESCO’s list of world heritage. People can visit, among other sites, the Bethlehem Chapel, the Pinkas Synagogue and the Old Town tower at Charles Bridge, the National and the Estates Theatres, the Emauzy Convent. Some of the sites however require visitors to make a reservation.
Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda on Saturday lit a 28-metre-tall Christmas tree in Prague’s Old Town Square, and opened a Christmas market in the square. The spruce, which is around 90-years-old, came from a forest near Rokycany, in western Bohemia. Organizers said tightened security measures were applied at the event which each year attracts thousands of people.
Prague’s Municipal Court has found fugitive businessman Radovan Krejčíř guilty of tax evasion, passing an 11-year prison sentence and a three-billion-crown fine. Friday’s verdict issued in absentia is a combined sentence for Mr Krejčíř’s current and previous convictions for tax and securities fraud as well as embezzlement. Mr Krejčíř escaped from the Czech Republic in 2005 and has been living in South Africa since 2007, where he has applied for refugee status.
Prague’s city council did not approve a change in the urban plan that would allow for trams to run along Wenceslas square up to Vinohradská street. The opposition Social Democrats and some Civic Democratic councilors voted against the change on Thursday, after the city assembly gave its approval earlier this week. The old tramline on Wenceslas square was suspended in the 1980’s.
November 22 is the 100th anniversary of the opening of one of Prague’s best-known buildings, the Municipal House (Obecní dům). A popular landmark today, its combination of the French Baroque style with Art Nouveau decoration split opinion among architects and the city’s residents at the time of its opening in 1912. The Municipal House was originally conceived as a cultural centre and it remains one, hosting concerts at its grand Smetana Hall and occasional exhibitions. It is also home to a Viennese style café and a French restaurant.
Czech-born tennis legend Ivan Lendl, who is in Prague ahead of this weekend’s Davis Cup final against Spain, told reporters on Wednesday that he expected a tight encounter. Lendl was part of the Czechoslovak team that won the competition in 1980. He said there were many possible permutations in terms of who would win points for the Czechs, but the main thing was that they notched up three. He said home support would represent an advantage. The Czech Republic’s men will be hoping to follow the recent victory of the Czech women in the Fed Cup to make the country the first since 1990 to take both titles.
I had never really been inside or had a proper look around, but I was sure the small church of St Martin in the Wall would have an interesting story, if for no other reason than its ancient appearance and peculiar name. Just off the central Národní třída is a classic Prague alleyway that’s tucked away from the shopping boulevard, neatly dividing the centuries from one another, and there you’ll find it. One of the oldest churches in the city, St Martin in the Wall is one of those relatively few landmarks whose story can transport you all the way
Prague will get a new Christmas market this year, with one set to be held on the square Malé náměstí, a short distance from the traditional market on Old Town Square. The mayor of Prague 1 said on Wednesday that the local council did not want to see Christmas celebrations concentrated on one site, adding that he favoured the sale of traditional Czech goods, such as a pastry known as “trdelník”. A pedestrian zone was created on Malé náměstí earlier this year.
The US ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, described the victory of Mr. Obama – who nominated him for the post – as a signal of continuity in his country. He said the Obama administration would continue its policies aimed at supporting a path out of the recession. Mr. Eisen hosted a party at the American Embassy in Prague that ran from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, with attendees following the results of the election as they came in on television. .
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