Better known abroad by its German name, Saaz, the region of Zatec north of Prague is world famous as the home of wonderfully aromatic hops, which are used to add flavor to Czech beer but also to European, American and even Japanese brews. This month Zatec celebrated one thousand years of recorded history -- much of it turbulent.
This week, we'll be visiting the town of Jihlava, which is located at the very border of Bohemia and Moravia, dividing the eastern and western parts of the Czech Republic. In fact, no-one knows which of the two regions it belongs to and town residents agree that it spreads over both of them. Jihlava has a population of 53,000 and its earliest written record dates back to the 12th century when it was founded thanks to the discovery of silver.
Even though this year's August weather has been hot and sunny so far, things could not have been more different exactly two years ago, when many towns in the Czech Republic were affected by heavy floods. The waters didn't reach Prague until August 13, a couple of days after dozens of towns and villages in the south of the country had already found themselves under water. Edita Kucerova, who lives in the beautiful South-Bohemian town of Pisek recalls these events.
Southeast Bohemia's Landstejn Castle found south-east of Jindrichuv Hradec, close to the Czech - Moravian - Austrian border, remains one of the Czech Republic's most imposing structures. The famous Romanesque ruin, originally designed to protect Bohemia's frontiers as well as to guard an ancient trade route to Austria, was built in the early 13th century.
For today's Spotlight we've come to the town of Lounovice pod Blanikem, pod Blanikem meaning "under Blanik", a mountain associated with some of the most colourful and famous of Czech legends. They say the story of the Knights of Blanik was first told to Charles IV by a blind young man, who was travelling through his kingdom.
The number of poor people and rent dodgers has been growing rapidly in some areas in north Bohemia. The reason - availability of extremely cheap housing. Property owners from around the country have found a cheap and simple way of getting rid of problematic tenants. At the same time, it is a solution for poor families who can no longer afford to pay high rents in Prague and other big cities. Local authorities have expressed concern about the development and are seeking ways to fight it.
When you ask Czechs to describe the North Bohemian town of Most, the most common answer is a grey mining town that expelled its entire native German population after the Second World War and offers few things to do or see. But fact is that Most, with its population of over 68,000, is today a thriving place that offers several noteworthy sights and plenty to do.
In today's edition of Spotlight, Dita Asiedu visits the little village of Hrcava. Hidden in the Beskydy Mountains in the Moravian-Silesian region, it is the easternmost village in the country. And although Hrcava lies at the end of a long and windy road uphill, it is well worth a visit as, once you get there, you find one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country with a breathtaking view of neighbouring Poland and Slovakia.
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