Prague Castle is more than just a pretty place - it also plays host to a wide array of cultural events, including this year some 18 exhibitions, 30 musical events and almost 100 theatre performances. The Castle authorities have just presented their rich cultural programme for 2005, and visitors won't be disappointed; they can look forward to everything from Charles IV's burial shroud to theatre from the Japanese Imperial court.
Some of the most interesting projects at the Castle this year are connected with the permanent exhibition Pribeh Prazskeho hradu (The Story of Prague Castle), which has been a huge hit with both Czechs and foreign visitors since it opened its doors last spring. Among other new features, the exhibition is going to include the shroud Charles IV was buried in. Sylvie Novotna is the curator of The Story of Prague Castle.
"Charles IV's burial shroud is a new exhibit which was found in his tomb, the royal tomb. This year he has an important anniversary - it is 650 years since he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. And the anniversary is April 5, exactly a year since our exhibition opened. The burial shroud is a magical relic, made of gorgeous velvet embroidered with gold thread brought from southern Italy."
Plays by William Shakespeare will once again be put on at the Castle in the summer months - they have been a big success in recent years, and are regularly sold out. New this year is another theatre stage, in the Castle's Novy Svet (New World) area. It is being run by the small Prague theatre Divadlo Ungelt, and will feature one of their regular performers, singer Marta Kubisova.
A special treat in September will be a one-off performance by Japan's "Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency", said to be the oldest court theatre group from the days of the Japanese Empire.
Several major exhibitions are also planned, with perhaps the biggest devoted to the religious reformer Jan Hus. It begins at the end of June and is entitled "Jan Hus 1415 - 2005"; organisers say they chose those dates so as to reflect Hus's importance to contemporary Czech society.
There will also be a large exhibition of photographs from World War II. It will feature pictures from Czech, Russian and British archives, and will include rarely seen shots of the Czechoslovak government in exile.
Among the other interesting visual arts events at Hradcany will be a show of photos taken by the famous Czech travellers Hanzelka and Zigmund.
As for music, Jazz at the Castle continues this year following a successful launch in 2004, with the best known performer probably the South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. He is due to play in June, and in the Castle Gardens, weather permitting.
And there will of course be many classical concerts in the course of 2005, including the traditional "promenade concerts" which have been running for almost 50 years. They take place outdoors in the Zahrada Na Valech garden and are hugely popular.
For more information go to www.hrad.cz
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