In the jumble of alleyways that is Prague’s Old Town, if you look carefully, you’ll make out the form of the ancient fortress of Ungelt, built over with baroque and renaissance facades, but still standing after 1000 years. This is the customs house of Ungelt, where foreign merchants came to store their wares, and a reminder that Prague has always been a cosmopolitan, multinational city ever since its earliest days.
The Regional Museum in Mikulov, in southern Moravia, has opened an exhibition of historic scientific instruments once used at the town’s 380-year-old grammar school. The exhibition highlights the beauty of the elaborate antique objects, and it also shows what role the school, founded by the Catholic order of the Piarists in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War, played in the town’s history.
In the last days of World War II, nine-year-old Ota Heller picked up a revolver and fired it at a German soldier. He did not wait to see if the man was still alive. For decades afterwards he talked to no one about the experience, and only recently has Ota Heller – or Charles Ota Heller, as he is now called – felt able to return to his memories of the war, collecting them in his book “Out of Prague”. In this week’s Czech Books he talks to David Vaughan.
In recent weeks, I’ve tried to capture something of the tense atmosphere of the time leading up to the Munich Agreement of September 30 1938, when the British and French Prime Ministers Chamberlain and Daladier allowed Hitler to carve up Czechoslovakia and march unopposed into the Sudetenland. The agreement left the country as a fragment of its former self; not only Germany, but also Hungary and Poland, claimed large chunks of Czechoslovakia’s borderlands. Here is how Radio Prague reported on the final border agreement, reached some weeks after
In today’s Spotlight Radio Prague visits an early Baroque palace known as Michnův palác in the historic quarter of Malá strana. Built in the 16th century, it first belonged to the Micha family before it became munitions factory in the mid-1700s. In the early 20th century, after the founding of Czechoslovakia, it was sold to the patriotic Sokol sport and gymnastics organisation, which renovated it and named it Tyršův dům (or Tyrs’ House) after its main founder.
Deep beneath the city of Prague is another city altogether, one that most people are completely unaware of, and that they’ll hopefully never see. It is a system of hundreds upon hundreds of concrete bunkers with their own electricity, water and ventilation systems awaiting the day that you might hear the air-raid sirens wailing.
This Tuesday marks 25 years since the shock of the Chernobyl disaster, when Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded, sending previously unseen quantities of nuclear contamination into the air. A radiation cloud spread over Russia and Central and Western Europe, with the first reading of the disaster registered more than 1,000 kilometres away in Sweden. To date Chernobyl is still considered the world’s worst nuclear accident, leaving whole villages and cities in the area abandoned. What is less known is that in the early
The Czech writer Jaroslav Hašek is best known today for his hilarious anti-war novel The Good Soldier Švejk. Hašek’s own biography, however, is perhaps just as farcical and action-packed as his most famous book. In this edition of Czech History, we look at the life and times of this world renowned author.
We quite often hear it said that in the run-up to World War Two, no-one quite realized the scale of the threat that Nazi Germany posed in Europe. When Hitler set his eyes on Czechoslovakia, there were plenty of politicians in Western Europe who really seemed to believe him, when he said that the Czech borderlands, the so-called Sudetenland, were his “last territorial claim”. But Czech Radio’s archives show only too clearly, that here in Prague there were also plenty of people who were only too aware of the worldwide menace that Hitler posed. As
The inter-war years are generally seen as a golden age by many Czechs. The first Czechoslovak Republic, which was established in 1918, was one of the world's most successful democracies until its annexation by Nazi Germany in 1938. While the contributions of brilliant statesmen like Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and industrialists like Tomáš Baťa to the success of the First Republic are well documented, it is not so well known that Czechoslovakia at that time had a vibrant free press, which also did much to nurture the country's democratic system. One