It’s nearly midday and Prague’s Old Town Square is heaving with people taking photos of the astrological clock, tour groups which you can probably hear behind me, and pizzerias and Czech pubs selling lunchtime fare. But in the midst of all of this hubbub, there is one thing missing, and I’m joined here by Eva Skalická of Prague Town Council, who is here to tell me exactly what that thing is.
Hundreds of people used the opportunity on Tuesday to browse the collections of the Czech National Museum for free. The country’s biggest museum has opened its doors to the public to celebrate its 190th anniversary, which falls on the 15th of April. It’s also holding a series of other events to mark its birthday. But most of all it is getting ready for a major renovation project, that will get under way in three years’ time.
Coming up in this week’s Arts – a new opera that’s just premiered in Prague based on Communist Czechoslovakia's most notorious show trial. On June 27th, 1950 Milada Horáková - a democratic MP and campaigner for women's rights - was hanged on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage, despite appeals for clemency from world figures including Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. This is the first attempt to bring one of the darkest periods of Czechoslovakia’s past to the stage.
Czech Egyptologists have an impressive international reputation, so much so that a new exhibition opened in Cairo this week charting the work Czechs have been doing in the field over the past five decades. The opening, which has received plenty of coverage here in the Czech press, was even attended by President Václav Klaus. Away from the pyramids and back in Prague, I paid a visit to the Czech Institute of Egyptology to meet research fellow Hana Navrátilová. She told me about the history of Czech Egyptology and its main proponents:
Several years ago the Jewish Museum in Prague launched Lost Neighbours, a project aimed at piecing together the forgotten stories of Czech Jews persecuted by the Nazis in the Holocaust. But most unusually, stories are researched and recorded not by journalists or historians, but by elementary and secondary school students. The aim has been to help young people better understand the tragic events of more than 60 years ago.
Monday marks 660 years since the founding of Charles University, the oldest university in Central Europe. On this day back in 1348 Emperor Charles IV issued an edict calling for the founding of a university in Prague bearing his name. Politicians, cultural figures and academics gathered in Prague’s Carolinum, the university’s historic building, on Monday to commemorate the anniversary. Related events are scheduled to take place throughout the year. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Jan Škrha, the vice-rector of Charles University about the history and reputation
In this week’s Mailbox we find out the identity of March’s mystery man and announce the four winners who will receive small gifts for their correct answers. Listeners quoted: Swopan Chakroborty, Helmut Matt, Jaromír Hauzar, Li Xuewei, Constatnin Liviu Viorel, Pier Carlo Acchino, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Ian Morrison, Colin Law, Charles Konecny, David Eldridge.
The Tatra car manufacturer in Kopřivnice is planning to renew production of some of its legendary models. The boss and co-owner of Tatra, American Ronald Adams, would like to produce a limited edition of Tatra 603 and the legendary Tatraplán T600. The replicas will look just like the originals, but the engine and the chassis will be entirely new. The first old-new models should leave the factory in about two years’ time.
The Lidice museum, which stands on the site of the Czech village that was infamously razed to the ground by the Nazis in 1942, opened a new education centre on Monday. Among other things, this facility will give visitors and scholars access to a detailed historical archive of material about what is considered to be one of the most notorious Nazi atrocities of the Second World War.
When Dr Jana Švehlová’s father was imprisoned by the communists for political reasons it left a deep impression on her life. After doing research into the psychological impact of such experiences on women like herself, she began a group called Daughters of the '50s which is a forum for discussion of often painful memories – and a support group for women whose childhoods, and often subsequent lives, were blighted by the mistreatment of their parents. When I met Dr Švehlová at a Prague centre cafe, she first told me her own family’s story.