Construction workers in the Czech capital on Monday removed a final cubic metre of earth from the city’s Blanka tunnel – built to streamline traffic through busy parts of the city. The end of tunnelling means that traffic restrictions in several above ground areas will now be lifted. But work on the tunnel itself is far from finished.
Czech actress Iva Janžurová and former Czech president and playwright Václav Havel were awarded honorary citizenship of Prague 6 on Friday by the district’s mayor, Marie Kousalíková. At the ceremony Mr Havel was accompanied by his wife Dagmar; it was the former president’s first public appearance in some time. Due to poor health and in order to recover his strength, Mr Havel, who turns 75 in October, has been staying at his cottage. Friday’s ceremony was held at the Břevnov monastery.
The initiative Auto*Mat organized a happening in Prague on Tuesday to propagate the transformation of the city’s Smetanovo nábřeží street, a stretch along the river near Charles Bridge, into a pedestrian zone. Participants wore masks featuring the face of Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and symbolically opened a pedestrian zone along the riverbank, which draws a high number of tourists every day. Auto*Mat has put up a petition to transform the stretch into a pedestrian zone online. The initiative’s Vít Matare said that Smetanovo nábřeží was an embarrassment for the Czech capital. He said that the stretch along the river featured some of the city’s most beautiful sights, yet its appeal was marred by the many cars passing through it, as well as the frequent traffic jams. He added that in 2005, then mayor Pavel Bém had pledged to curb traffic along the river.
In a meeting with Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague Castle on Tuesday, President Václav Klaus criticized the government’s foreign policy concept. Mr. Klaus, who received the Czech diplomats in town for a week-long meeting at Prague Castle, said that the government’s concept lacked content, did not address key questions and problematic areas of foreign policy. On Monday, Czech ambassadors met with Prime Minister Petr Nečas as well as Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. In addressing the country’s ambassadors, Mr. Nečas stressed the Czech Republic should support Europe’s quest for fiscal discipline, take a prudent stance regarding the adoption of the euro and forge stronger business links with potential partners outside Europe in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. In view of the present economic situation, the prime minister added that business diplomacy was of strategic importance. Mr. Schwarzenberg underlined the crucial role of European integration, a concept that the Czech president has criticized.
Prague’s Žižkov district will name one of its streets after Olga Havlová, the deceased first wife of ex-president Vaclav Havel. The former first lady was extremely popular with the public and often proclaimed herself to be a Žižkov patriot, the district where she was born and grew up. Olga Havlová died of cancer in 1996.
Prague residents have been marking the 120th anniversary of the famous Petřín tower and funicular on Petřín hill. Organisers put together a series of events for visitors on Saturday which wrap-up at five pm local time. Free admission has been on offer for those arriving in 19th century costume. Historic vehicles, including antique fire trucks, are on view near the venue. Petřín Tower - the Czech capital’s answer to the Eiffel Tower in Paris – was completed for the Prague Jubilee of 1891.
In this week’s Arts, my guest is Welsh writer James Stafford, the author of a wonderfully irreverent new webcomic The Sorrowful Putto of Prague. The comic tells the story of a 400-year-old putto (or cherub) named Xavier living in the city and it has captured the attention of both Czech and English-language readers. After looking up the site myself, I was curious to learn more about Xavier and his world. Luckily James Stafford – who is not usually based in Prague – was able to come to the studio to discuss the project.
On the edge of Prague’s Letná plain, overlooking the Vltava and the Old Town, stand several remarkable buildings from the Belle Époque when Prague was hoping to become the Paris of the East. One of these structures is the Hanau Pavilion, a church-like edifice of cast iron and bricks built to demonstrate the dynamic development of Bohemian industry. Today as in the past, its restaurant offers amazing views of the capital.
Prague City Hall wants significant changes to the municipal development plan over the coming years, the Czech Press Agency reports. According to the agency, the changes would include a transformation of industrial zones in Vysočany and Ruzně into residential areas and potentially redevelop the area of Strahov Stadium. The current city administration says the new development plan will not be ready until at least 2014, a considerable postponement from the plans of the previous administration. The city is already discussing three packages for major city-wide changes, including the reconstruction of three train stations as well as metro and transport structures.
The first Prague Pride march in support of sexual minorities set off across the city centre on Saturday, the main event of the five-day Tolerance Festival. Roughly 5,000 rainbow-clad marchers met at Náměstí Republiky at 1 p.m. and set out for Střelecký Ostrov, where a music festival will be held. Thousands of bystanders also stopped to watch the parade. The prcession was met by a small group of some 40 right-wing extremists at Jungmannově náměstí, some of whom hurled plastic bottles and insults; no other conflicts occurred. A counter-event organised by young Christian Democrats saw about 200 and ended before the gay pride march began.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal
Minister: Czech Republic won’t take in 40 child refugees from Greek camps
“The only solution is political” – Organisers of major anti-government protests in Czechia announce plans for the future