The Civic Democrat mayor of the Prague 2 district Jiří Paluska resigned Wednesday following accusations that he had abused his power while in office. Specifically, the mayor faced accusations that he personally benefitted from a questionable rental arrangement and subsequent reconstruction tender by the district, with Paluska’s son living in an apartment that had officially been designated to be reconstructed, partially at public expense. Transparency International filed a complaint against Prague 2 arguing that the scenario presented by the district – of reconstruction and rental of a property on Dittrichova road – never actually took place and also claimed to possess documentation proving that the mayor’s son was occupying part of the property in question. Deputy mayor Václav Vondrášek has now taken over Paluska’s post.
Dozens of taxi drivers staged a protest outside Prague’s City Hall on Wednesday by deliberately parking in front of the building in Marianské Náměstí. The taxi drivers blocked streets around the site as police on the scene issued fines to several of the taxi drivers who added to the protest by beeping their horns. The protests are in favour of recently rejected proposals to introduce a minimum per kilometre tariff of 24 crowns for all of the city’s taxis. The action began in Prague’s Strahov district at around 1pm, with drivers then making their way to City Hall. Presently, only a maximum tariff of 28 crowns is in effect, with mayor Bohuslav Svoboda arguing that a minimum fee would reduce competition in the taxi market. Hundreds of taxi drivers have reportedly signed a petition in favour of the minimum tariff plan.
Prague’s wealth of traditional coffeehouses is a legacy from the era of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But even in today’s hectic time, grabbing a quick cup on the run is fortunately not the only option for coffee lovers in the Czech capital. Probably the best-known café in the golden city is Kavárna Slavia, or Café Slavia. We recently visited this traditional coffeehouse.
Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper has just published a list of the top twenty places for young people to emigrate, and the Czech capital Prague came in fourth. "Beautiful and only a short flight away from Britain, Prague offers all the stability of Europe with not requiring a new language, and it has the best beer in the world," that's according to the Telegraph at least. So is Prague as an expat destination all it's cracked up to be?
52-year-old Alžběta Pourová broke her own endurance record by swimming in the ice-cold Vltava river on Wednesday for 57 minutes. In 2006, the swimmer entered the Czech record books with a forty minute swim. The current record-breaking swim took place in waters of 4 degrees Celsius, with Czech media present to watch the event in Prague, which took place on Pourová’s birthday. Alžběta Pourová has been involved in endurance swimming for more than thirty years, reports ČTK, adding that Wednesday’s record attempt took months of training and preparation. Also present at the event were police and diving teams ready to intervene should anything go wrong. The Czech Republic has a long tradition of cold-endurance swimming, notes ČTK, with the first such event taking place in 1923.
Around 7,000 student protesters marched in the centre of Prague this morning, according to police estimates, though student leaders put the figure at 10,000. The marches are part of an ongoing “week of protests” organised by students against proposed government education reforms. Prague students were joined by their compatriots from across the country, reports ČTK, and marched from Rudolfinum to the offices of the Czech government in the centre of the city. Tuesday saw around 6000 students demonstrating in the city of Brno, while protests are also expected Wednesday in Hradec Králové, České Budějovice, Ostrava and Plzeň. Specifically, the students are seeking that Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš reject current reform proposals, which students believe both reduce the autonomy of education institutions and shift the burden of funding higher education to students.
The Czech news website idnes has reported a planned parking complex which
was to have gone hand-in-hand with the extension of Prague’s “A” (or
Green) metro line will not be built. The planned multi-level parking site
would have cost the city roughly 1.3 billion crowns, funds Prague lacks,
the Deputy Mayor for Transport Josef Nosek confirmed. The planned site was
to have accommodated 600 cars – mostly for motorists from Kladno and
surrounding areas just outside of the capital. Instead, existing parking
space will have to suffice.
The news site reports that that could lead to difficulties, with motorists being left little choice but to “flood” local residential areas; to complicate matters, the site notes, the district of Prague 6 is currently planning on introducing so-called blue zones, requiring annual parking permits, in Dejvice and Bubeneč. Four new metro stations are being added to the “A” line: Červený Vrch, Veleslavín, Petřiny and Motol. The new stations are to open in 2014.
A new exhibition at the National Memorial on Vítkov Hill opened on Saturday allowing visitors to visit underground chambers where Czechoslovakia’s first communist president Klement Gottwald was embalmed. The historic site was infamously used as a mausoleum for Gottwald’s body after his death. The exhibition, named The Laboratory of Power, includes a machine room and other chambers where original equipment used in the embalming process was stored. Photographs and slogans are included to evoke the atmosphere of the 1950s – one of darkest periods in Czechoslovak history which followed with the Communist takeover in February 1948.
The National Museum is opening an exhibition highlighting the cult of personality of the first Czechoslovak communist president, Klement Gottwald. The exhibition, named Laboratory of Power, is located in the underground rooms of Prague´s Vítkov Memorial that the communist regime built to embalm Gottwald in 1953. The memorial was then turned into a mausoleum. The exhibition includes the machine room and other rooms with original equipment where the work on Gottwald’s preservation took place. Photographs and slogans of the era underscore the atmosphere of the 1950s and highlight the causes of the communist coup of February 25, 1948, led by Gottwald as the Communist Party head and then Czechoslovak prime minister.
Prague is the city of hundred spires and countless historic sights, but what does it look like when you close your eyes? A new project called Favourite Sounds of Prague attempts to draw attention to the “soundscape” of the Czech capital, exploring how local people perceive the sounds that surround them. One of the fruits of the project will be an archive of sounds, something like an acoustic portrait of the city. The man behind the idea is British artist Peter Cusack, who has carried out similar projects in several cities across the world. The Czech
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
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Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
The history of the “German Czechs”