Petr Hlaváček is a man with a passion for shoes. The dean of Zlín’s Bata University knows the technology of shoe-making inside out. He has reconstructed shoes worn by Oetzi the Ice Man 5,000 years ago and is working on the latest technologies for shoes intended to help diabetic patients, among many other projects. So when Czech experts studied the contents of the St Maurus reliquary said to contain the remains of John the Baptist –among them a small piece of a leather sandal which may have been his – it was only natural that they should turn to
Prague is remembering the long winter of Communism this week with an unusual multi-media festival called Mene Tekel. Hebrew for ‘the writing on the wall’, the festival – now in its fifth year - bills itself as ‘an international festival against totalitarianism, evil and violence’. Films, concerts, exhibitions and even reconstructions of Stalinist show trials are on hand in what the organisers say is an attempt to preserve the memory of the nation.
Tucked away in the highlands, far from the main roads in the forests between Bohemia and Moravia, lies the town of Žďár nad Sázavou. It is now an industrial town spotted with ugly prefab high-rises but on its northern edge, it boasts one of the gems of Baroque architecture, the UNESCO-listed church at Zelená Hora, as well as an ancient monastery that once gave rise to the whole town.
Professor Miroslav Bárta is the head of a Czech team of archaeologists working at a long established site in Egypt. He recently got back from Egypt and is seeking clearance to resume work there again in the face of the uncertainty about the situation in country. In this week’s One on One Professor Bárta describes the new theories about the collapse of the Old Kingdom he has contributed to and his thoughts about the more recent demise of the reign of president Hosni Mubarak. I asked him first of all when he had begun to be interested in
In the 1930s Prague was a modern city, with a passion for innovation. New buildings were springing up, celebrating the technology of steel, chrome and glass, jazz and swing were playing on the radio, and despite the impact of the world economic crisis, the Czech love of the motor-car was growing fast. One of the gems in our pre-war archives is a report from 1st January 1936 on the city's first traffic light. The intrepid reporter is standing at a busy Prague crossroads, and we hear the traffic roaring around him.
In this week’s Czech History we look at the phenomenon of cross border agents, people employed by Western intelligence services to cross the frontier during the early days of the Czechoslovak communist regime to gather information, create networks and bring back chosen individuals. Some crossed the border many times, some were caught on the first attempt. For some the transient phenomenon helped launch them onto a new life, for others heroic, and not so heroic acts, ended with treachery, death and long terms of imprisonment.
The first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk is remembered as the founding father of the country. It was he who from his exile in Britain and then America in the First World War negotiated the terms for an independent Czechoslovakia. When he died on 14th September 1937 at the grand old age of 87, the whole nation went into mourning. In sombre tones, Czechoslovak Radio broadcast the entire funeral. The five-hour event was the radio's first major outside broadcast, using a whole team of the star presenters of the time.
The Czech government wants to correct some of the injustices inherited from the communist regime. Twenty years after the fall of communism, coalition leaders agreed to a plan to slash the retirement benefits of former communist security service officers and high ranking Communist party officials. The funds should be used to increase the pensions of opponents of the former regime.