A meteorological column erected on the Prague square Vítězné náměstí in 1914 has just been restored. It is one of only two remaining such columns in the Czech capital, though in the past they were a common sight in the city and indeed throughout the country. I discussed the restoration job and more with Eva Heyd of the Czech National Trust, who initiated the project.
What, apart from blue blood, do Wenceslaus I, Přemysl Otakar II, John of Luxembourg and Charles IV, the first king of Bohemia to become Holy Roman Emperor, have in common? Their royal corpses were eviscerated via an abdominal incision, their body cavities filled with herbs, and then placed in a tank filled with resin and a mixture of potassium chloride and sulphate of potash. Until the practice was forbidden in the Czech lands in the late 18th century, a surprising number of bodies of socially and politically prominent were anthropogenically mummified
The Lennon Wall, located in a secluded square in Malá Strana near the French embassy, had long been a traditional place where anybody was free to do any type of graffiti they want, though the general subject was John Lennon and world peace. This symbol of freedom, born in the communist years, later became a significant Prague landmark, connected with the dissident years and the Velvet Revolution. But the overwhelming interest in it proved too much. Things got out of hand and now the famous wall is undergoing a major transformation.
The Museum of Carriages in Čechy pod Kosířem is the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic, taking visitors back to the days when horse-drawn carriages were the main form of transport. The collection of historic carriages, coaches and sleighs was assembled over the last 25 years and counts 100 exhibits to date. The museum specializes in carriages made and used in the Czech lands and Moravia and includes a number of rare pieces used by the nobility in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The seventh Signal festival will again bring video mapping and light installations to the streets of Prague, every night from Thursday to Sunday. This year’s edition promises something special in the form of a piece by famous architect Eva Jiřičná, though it will also be overlapping with events linked to the funeral of singer Karel Gott. I discussed all that with Signal founder Martin Pošta, but first asked him about this year’s theme, which is revolution.
The popularity of disaster movies shows how people are fascinated by catastrophes, natural and otherwise. Now there’s a permanent exhibition by the City of Prague Museum called “Prague on Fire” which gives visitors a multimedia experience of the history of the city’s devastating fires. It’s located in a 17th century water tower officially called the “New Mill Water Tower” though of course it’s not new anymore.
Two adventure-loving Czech bikers are fulfilling their dream of discovering the world on their Jawa motorbikes. Michal Franc and Martin Gregor have covered 35 thousand km across Europe and this year they headed for the ghost town of Pripyat in Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear accident in history. On their return they paid a visit to Czech Radio to talk about their experiences.
A rose-coloured porcelain cup and saucer made 225 years ago has pride of place at the Museum of Porcelain in Klášterec nad Ohří. It is the oldest preserved item which was made within a series of experiments in porcelain production in 1794. The other pieces fell apart, but the rose-coloured cup and saucer heralded hope for the future. Today the famous Thun brand of porcelain is exported to countries the world over.
Just to the right of Prague’s famous mediaeval astronomical clock on Old Town Square, where tourists congregate in droves on the hour to see “The Walk of the Apostles”, lies an attraction of an altogether different nature. For one thing, it’s a mere century old, rather stinky, and only open to the public once a year. I went along on the tour – so you don’t have to.
Brno’s Martin Reiner is an award-winning poet and novelist. He also works closely with some of the Czech Republic’s other leading writers as head of the publishing house Druhé město (Second City). Our tour of “his Brno” begins in the tree-lined district where Reiner grew up, Černá Pole, around half an hour’s walk from the centre of the Moravian capital.