Conservationists in Berlin are calling for the Czech embassy there to be conserved in the face of possible demolition. Conservationists say they have expressed their wished to Czech officials and have also offered expertise on means of modernising the building, according to Czech Radio. The embassy on Wilhelstrasse is one of the few examples of so called “Socialistic brutalism” from the 1970s. The embassy, planned for more than 300 staff, now has around 35, and the costs of maintaining the building are high. Staff also complain that temperatures inside the building vary between tropical and Arctic.
The Madonna Zlatokorunská, a valuable gothic painting of a mother and child, has returned to the Zlatá Koruna monastery in South Bohemia after 78 years. The painting, created between 1410 and 1420, will be accessible to the public as of April 17, representatives of the National Heritage Institute said on Wednesday. It was taken away from the monastery in 1938 in a move to pre-empt it falling into the hands of Nazi Germany. After the war it became part of the National Gallery’s collection. It was returned to the Catholic Church in the 1990s.
Prague City Hall has voted in favour of renovating the Libeň bridge, which has been described as the sole Cubist-style bridge in the world, to its original condition. Prague deputies originally suggested other options, such as massive restoration including enlargement of the bridge or even its demolition, but the proposals met with massive protests from local people and conservationists. Steps are now being taken for the bridge, designed by architect Pavel Janák in the late 1920s, to be declared a cultural monument.
Architects are to be invited to take part in a competition to reshape the Nákladového nádraží Žižkov rail freight station in Prague, following a decision by the local council. Under a long-term plan the extensive complex is to be turned into an arts and education hub. Local officials say they will work in conjunction with the Prague Institute of Planning and Development and the owners, a consortium of Czech Railways and developers Sekyra Group.
Two German treasure hunters have claimed that the world famous amber chamber looted by Nazi forces from St. Petersburg during the Second World War is hidden in the cellars of a Czech castle. The claim has been made by Germans Erich Stenz and Georg Mederer that the treasure is hidden at Frýdlant castle in northern Bohemia. They say a now dead witness recounted how lorries brought the treasure there towards the end of the war. The treasure hunters complain their attempts to pursue research at the site has been blocked by the Czech National Heritage Institute and the Czech government. The amber room was a gift to Tsar Peter the Great by the then ruler of Prussia at the start of the 18th century.
The government has approved the renovation of the State Opera at the cost of almost one billion crowns. The project is to take roughly 27 months and should wrap up by 2018. Performances which would have taken place at the opera will be moved to the historic National Theatre or to the Karlín Musical Theatre.
The final settlement between church and state over the return of confiscated property at Prague Castle, which was officially to be signed by the end of January, should be sealed by February 26th, President Miloš Zeman and Archbishop Dominik Duka agreed on Thursday. According to the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, the two parties needed more time to settle the requirements of the church regarding the buildings at the castle. According to a memorandum signed in the summer of last year, the Church was to receive the Saint George’s Convent and the Mocker Houses on condition that it will renovate them within five years and drop its claims to other buildings at Prague Castle.
Police in Vsetín, north Moravia have charged a man in connection with a fire that destroyed a protected mountain cottage. The man, who is 50, is suspected of causing the blaze – which occurred in March this year – through negligence during repair work on its chimney in 2007. He could face eight years in jail if found guilty. Public collections have raised around CZK 10 million for a project to rebuild the Libušín cottage in the Beskid Mountains, which dates from 1925.
The Friends of Czech Heritage is a British charity that raises funds to help repair and preserve historical buildings in the Czech Republic. It also organises work parties in which members travel here from the UK to take part in restoration projects in a very hands on-manner. Retired architect Peter Jamieson is the chairman of the Friends of Czech Heritage. When we met in London, he filled me in on his connections to the country to which he now devotes so much time and energy.
Alex Went is the man behind the Prague Vitruvius, a very impressive and useful website dedicated to the city’s architecture. Indeed, the Englishman, who works as head of communications at Prague College, probably knows a lot more about the Czech capital’s buildings and history than the vast majority of natives. In the first part of our tour of “his Prague”, Went gives me some fascinating into Moskevská St., the main drag in his Vršovice neighbourhood – beginning across the street from the “Rangherka” mansion.
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