Over 90 percent of books in the Czech National Library printed after the year 1800 are threatened with destruction caused by acid, which has been forming in the paper over the years. The library has now taken a major step to prevent the valuable volumes from turning to dust, sending several thousand of them to Germany to undergo special chemical treatment, called de-acidification.
Czech archaeologists are using plain white sugar to preserve what may be the oldest wooden structure ever discovered in Europe – a water well made of oak trees felled some 7,000 years ago. The well was unearthed earlier this year during the construction of the D35 highway as an isolated find, bearing marks of construction techniques used in the Bronze and Iron ages.
600 years ago, an angry crowd stormed Prague’s New Town Hall and threw its councillors out of the window. The event, which has since become known as the First Defenestration of Prague on is often seen as the starting point of the Hussite Wars. A brutal religous conflict which saw Bohemia ravaged by civil war, but also created many of the nation’s most remembered victories and characters, which are remembered today in monuments, art and film. To better understand the role of the defenestration and how it came to be, I spoke with Dr. Pavel Soukup,
The interdisciplinary study of archaeology and genetics can bring about many new discoveries, some of which have helped shed new light on periods previously clouded in myth. One of these is a more precise understanding of the ancestors that make up today’s Czech population, which is apparently more pre-historic than Slav.
In days of yore, when the greedy pagan Prince Křesomysl reigned over the Czech lands from the ancient Prague castle at Vyšehrad, he forced peasants to abandon their villages and fields to pan for gold and mine for silver to fill the royal coffers. With famine looming – so the legend goes – a knight named Horymír tried to reason with the prince, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. What’s more, miners torched the knight’s estate, setting off a cycle of revenge. And Horymír would have been beheaded – if not for his noble steed, Šemík. The white horse
In the early days of space travel, years before the Apollo 11 mission, an Austrian journalist walked into a travel office in Vienna asking to reserve a flight to the Moon. Pan American Airways took his reservation, launching what would years later become the carrier’s ‘First Moon Flights Club’. Among the nearly 100,000 people who joined it was the grandfather of Czech documentary film producer Veronika Janatková. Her directorial debut, ‘Ticket to the Moon’, offers a unique perspective on universal longings across the divide of the Iron Curtain,
Countless statues of Tomáš Garrique Masaryk, the founding father of Czechoslovakia and the country’s first president, were erected in town squares in the first two decades of the new democracy. Scores were torn down under the German occupation, melted down in Third Reich forges to make bullets and artillery shells. But the fate of a handful of others remains a mystery.
Although many people today crave the latest technology, there is a persistent, strong fascination with “veterans” – old-timey cars, trams and busses which appear on the streets are instantly surrounded by admirers, and the owners of these historic jewels bring them out on special occasions. Ostrava City Transport is now preparing to celebrate the centenary of the oldest trams in its collection – the famed No. 25 tram, a wooden model that hit the rails in 1919, cruising the city at 15 kilometres an hour.
The 1969 moon landing glued millions of people around the world to their TV sets 50 years ago. For Czechs and Slovaks, this historic event had a special, bittersweet, taste. Vít Pohanka spoke to two Czech journalists who had the unique opportunity to cover the Apollo flight both from the USA and Prague.