Some of the country’s most popular castles and chateaux opened their doors to the public this weekend, marking the start of the tourist season. Among them are Karlšejn, Křivoklát and Konopište, which annually attract over half a million visitors. Prague Castle also opened its doors to visitors this weekend. The country’s other historical attractions are due to open the season on April 1st or the long Easter weekend with price cuts and special events for visitors.
Some 300 people attended a protest against Islam on Prague’s Hradčany Square on Friday evening. The event was organized by the group We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic who have been increasingly vocal in protesting the presence of Muslims in the country. Among those who attended the gathering were a number of politicians, including deputy chair of the Dawn party Marek Černoch, Civic Democrat MP Jana Černochova and Senator Jaroslav Doubrava. The protest passed without incident.
Prague Castle, which is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square metres, is set to undergo some significant restoration work this year. The reconstruction, which concerns for instance the Old Royal Palace and Saint Vitus Cathedral, is expected to cost some 290 million crowns. I spoke to František Kadlec of the Prague Castle Administration, who says the restoration of the castle buildings is a never-ending process:
A number of renovation projects are planned for Prague Castle this year. A spokesperson for the Prague Castle Administration told the Czech News Agency that the façades of the complex’s Deer Moat, Riding School and one wing of the Old Royal Palace would be renovated while some work will also be done on St. Vitus’ Cathedral. Those four projects will take up around CZK 140 million of CZK 292 million earmarked for repairs this year at Prague Castle, which is the city’s most visited landmark.
Prague Castle is considered one of the symbols of the Czech state. Once the seat of Bohemian kings, it now houses the Office of the Czech President, and its museums and galleries annually attract millions of visitors. But for over a hundred years, Prague Castle was half-forgotten. With the imperial court residing in Vienna throughout the 19th century, the castle only served as a luxurious hotel for the royal family and their relatives and friends. A recently published book of memoirs entitled A Greeting from the Castle Hill now offers an insider’s
The lights on a Christmas tree at a Christmas market on Prague’s Old Town Square were turned on for the first time this year on Saturday afternoon. The illuminations on the 26-metre pine tree were switched on by veteran actress Hana Maciuchová and Jakub Kohák, an entertainer and director of commercials. A tree at Prague Castle will be lit up on Sunday, the first of advent, by Ivana Zemanová, the wife of the president.
Security at Czech ministries, government offices and other state institutions has been tightened after the Interior Ministry received another letter containing suspicious substance on Friday, the third such letter to have arrived at the ministry over the last weeks. One of the letters was found to contain poison. A poison letter also arrived at the Finance Ministry last week while envelopes containing harmless substances have been delivered to the office of the president and the commercial TV channel Prima. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told a news conference on Friday the police would closely monitor mail delivered to state institutions which would receive manuals on recognizing potentially dangerous shipments. Mr Chovanec also said he believed that the perpetrators would soon be traced.
Around two hundred students staged a fresh protest against President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday evening. The demonstration organized by students from Prague’s Technical University took place outside the gates of Prague Castle with protesters signing a petition for the Senate to debate some of the president’s recent controversial statements. They have so far collected 3,000 signatures though they would need 10,000 for the Senate to comply with their request. The hour long protest ended without incident.
President Miloš Zeman has again not invited university rectors with whom he has had disputes in the past to a ceremony on October 28 at which state honours will be presented. Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday that once again neither Mikuláš Bek of Brno’s Masaryk University nor Libor Grubhoffer from the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice had received the traditional invitation. Mr. Bek refused to allow Mr. Zeman to appear before students ahead of general elections, while Mr. Grubhoffer declined to attend a conferral ceremony after the president refused to name a professor, saying he had carried an inappropriate sign during a gay pride parade. Last year a number of university heads stayed away from the October 28 ceremony at Prague Castle in solidarity with the two.
President Milos Zeman is to pay a state visit to China from October 23 -27th, the Office of the President said in a statement to the press on Thursday. In addition to a series of talks with top officials in Beijing, the Czech president will also visit the provinces. Economic issues are expected to dominate the agenda. The two countries are working to expand business ties after a reset of relations earlier this year. The Chinese Investment Form held at Prague Castle in August was the biggest event of its kind, attended by close to a thousand delegates. On his visit to China the Czech president will be accompanied by a delegation of Czech business leaders.
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