For this week's Spotlight we're in one of the most beautiful regions of the Czech Republic, the Krkonose or Giant Mountains, straddling the Czech-Polish border, a hundred kilometres north-east of Prague. These are the Czech Republic's highest mountains, rising well over a thousand metres, and at this time of year, they are decked with a thick blanket of snow. The Giant Mountains is a wonderfully poetic and evocative name... and indeed Krkonose does have its very own legendary giant, known as "Krakonos" in Czech and "Ruebezahl" in German.
Strolling through Christmas markets around the Czech Republic, you can find various Czech traditional sweets. Gingerbread men are probably the most typical ones but more and more often one can come across what's known as Stramberske usi or "Stramberk ears" - cone-shaped gingerbread cookies with a bloodstained history.
Situated some 100 kilometres north of Prague, the town Jablonec nad Nisou has a lot to be proud of - predominantly its glass and jewellery -two major export articles that have made it renown all over the world. Last week Jablonec hit the headlines as the first Czech town to get its own town "anthem" on the occasion of its 140th birthday next year. Contrary to what you might expect the lyrics are not about glass or jewellery - they are about apples and love!
"That's where the new Uvaly by-pass will be," said the Mayor. I'd gone to see her to find out who owned the charming little woodland, stream and giant oak tree that the road to my village goes by - just so I could visit it - when there on the map were these ominous dotted lines. "But Uvaly already has a by-pass," was all I could say - built about 30 years ago. And here is this new thing, dotted lines for the moment, snaking through empty fields like some heat-seeking missile to destroy this precious bit of natural landscape. The quiet coppiced
Today we travel to eastern Bohemia where I visited one of the country's regions that's true to its name - Cesky Raj, which translates as Bohemian Paradise. It's an area that encompasses sandstone rock formations that somewhat remind us of Stonehenge or miniature Grand Canyons, fairy tale hills that hide precious stones, romantic castles and chateaux with a colourful history, and picturesque folk architecture - to name just a few of the region's attractions. It is not hard to see why the Bohemian Paradise was given the honour of being labelled a
One of the most beautiful towns in Moravia and historically an important location in the Czech Republic is Znojmo - a town whose foundations date back to the 11th century. For centuries Znojmo guarded the regions of southern Moravia, part of an elaborate chain of defending castles along the Dyje River and the border with Austrian lands, developing from a promontory fort to medieval stronghold and local seat of administration for the Premyslids - the first line of Czech kings. By the mid 1200s Znojmo was dominant, complementing neighbouring castles
For many Czechs, graffiti is one of the less welcome bi-products of the changes that have swept society since 1989. Whether it's the Technicolor swirls that adorn concrete walls across the country's towns and cities, or the so-called "tags" or signatures that appear on buildings and bus shelters everywhere, the Czech authorities appear to fighting an endless battle against graffiti. But the town of Kadan has taken an unusual step in this fight.
The entire garrison town of Terezin served as a ghetto for Czech and European Jews during the Second World War and housed a Gestapo-run prison. Tens of thousands died within its walled fortresses, which were taken over by the Czechoslovak army after the war, and then abandoned in 1996. The debate over how best to both preserve -- and breathe new life -- into the northern Bohemian town took on a new urgency after it was devastated by floods in 2002. But as Brian Kenety reports, Terezin is still waiting for a miracle.
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