Soldier, topographer, polar explorer, but also painter, Julius von Payer was a man of many skills. Despite being born in the West Bohemian spa town of Teplice, he is a figure unknown to most Czechs today. Nevertheless, his efforts were immortalised by the discovery of a polar island which he named Franz Josef Land.
The young Czech scientist Marie Šabacká has spent a considerable part of her working life in the Arctic, Antarctic and other remote areas, studying ecology of polar microorganisms and the impact of climate change on local ecosystems. This year, she received a prestigious grant from the Neuron foundation to explore tropical glaciers in Africa.
Old Trabant cars parked near the German Embassy in Prague were a nostalgic reminder of the heady days of 1989 when thousands of East Germans fled to the West via Prague, getting asylum at the West German embassy until they were granted free passage. To mark the 30th anniversary of the East German exodus, the German Embassy in Prague organized a festival titled The Way to Freedom.
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.
The German Embassy in Prague this Saturday will mark the 30th anniversary
of the mass influx of East Germans to the Czech capital in the early autumn
of the revolutionary year of 1989.
Thousands of citizens of the former GDR had flocked to Prague after Czechoslovak authorities agreed not to prevent them from emigrating via the West German Embassy. The Berlin Wall fell months later.
To mark that anniversary, the Lobkowicz Palace will be open to the public, who can take part in a debate with the witnesses of the seminal events of 1989, and view exhibitions of photographs and historical documents.
At the time, the Czech capital was suddenly filled with hundreds of Trabants, whose owners had abandoned them often with the keys still in the ignition. A display of historic East German cars on Malostranské náměstí will recall the phenomenon.
Linguist and budding historian Martin Neudörfl is on a mission to codify and save two languages from extinction: Sercquiais, a Norman dialect from the Channel Island of Sark only four people speak as natives, and Šumava Bavarian, the West Germanic language of his ancestors from Český Krumlov – where he’s helped revive the Schwarzenberg guard, of which he is the youngest captain in history and official archivist.
Monoxylon is the Greek term for a vessel chiselled out from a single tree trunk. It’s also the name of a Czech-led experimental archaeological expedition, which first set off in such a craft back in 1995. The aim then and now is to validate in practice assumptions and hypotheses about human migration in the Neolithic age, some 8,000 years ago.
For people from a land-locked country, boat hitchhiking may not seem like the ideal way of going places. But young Czech traveller Matěj Vohryzek, who has just returned from a hitchhiking trip across the Atlantic Ocean, has proved that with a dose of courage nothing is impossible. He covered the journey in just three weeks, losing eight kilos on the way.
The great traveller Miroslav Zikmund turned 100 on Thursday. For Czechoslovaks unable to travel much under communism, the books and radio reports produced by Zikmund and his friend Jiří Hanzelka served as a window to exotic parts of the world. However, the pair were barred from public life following the Soviet invasion.