Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is to pay a three day state visit to the Czech Republic at the invitation of Czech President Milos Zeman. President Sargsyan is due to arrive in Prague on Wednesday for a series of talks with top officials and will attend a state dinner held at Prague Castle in his honour on Thursday night. The two heads of state are expected to discuss bilateral ties and investment and trade opportunities. The Armenian president last visited the Czech capital in 2009 when the Czech capital hosted an EU summit focusing on the Eastern partnership project.
Prague is one of Europe’s top tourist destinations, with an annual five million visitors. For some of them, however, the combination of the city’s night life and cheap alcohol is a far bigger attraction than its historic heritage. In parts of the city centre, severe problems with noisy and drunk tourists have prompted the authorities to consider imposing a 10 PM closing time deadline on some of the notorious watering holes, a move which has earned them accusations of reviving communist-era rules.
Prague is joining the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). The non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Beijing has 72 members, all tourist frequented cities who benefit from an exchange of information and know how in the field. According to Prague city councilors, who approved the motion, Prague’s membership in the WCTF can help open the way to the Chinese market.
Plans to make Prague’s Smetanovo nábřeží embankment and Malá Strana car-free once the tunnel Blanka goes into operation may not now go ahead, iDnes.cz reported. Turning the embankment and Malá Strana into pedestrian-only zones would cause transport problems elsewhere in the centre of the city, according to a report commissioned by City Hall and quoted by the news site. An experiment in which Smetanovo nábřeží, running from Charles Bridge to the National Theatre, was closed to cars for several Saturdays last autumn led to traffic jams in other places, while tram services had to be rerouted.
Restorers were on Tuesday due to remove the remaining statues on a Marian plague column on the main square in the Prague Castle complex. Three other statues were taken down at the start of the month. The decorations and the entire column, which is protected, are in a poor state and need to be repaired. The main work is scheduled to get underway this year with the monument expected to be returned to its former glory in 2016.
The author of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown, has just been in Prague for what he described as a vacation. The multi-million selling writer, known for his love of symbols and legends, has set previous novels in other historical European cities. So what are the chances of a future Brown hit taking place in the Czech capital?
The Prague Vitruvius is an extremely useful website for anybody interested in perhaps the Czech capital’s greatest asset: its unparalleled wealth of architecture. The blog is the work of Englishman Alex Went, who has created close to 300 entries taking in both tourist sights and largely unknown gems in the suburbs. When we spoke at the Vinohrady Pavilion – designed by one of his favourite Prague architects – I asked Went what had brought him to the city in the first place.
A member of the country’s large Vietnamese community, Mimi Lan Nguyen came to the Czech Republic in the early 1990s while still in her early teens. Today she is a successful fashion designer with a flagship boutique on the capital’s Štěpánská St. The shop is actually on the outside of the grand city centre Lucerna Palace, and it was there that Mimi began introducing me to “her Prague”.
Standing in the centre of the Clementinum – if you can locate such a thing in the labyrinth – you are surrounded by around a millennium of history and millions of volumes of books inside one of the most beautifully preserved masterpieces of Baroque art the city of Prague has to offer. This is the seat of the Czech National Library and the whispering and rustling that echoes through its grand halls add perfectly to its natural mysteriousness.
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