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.
I decided it was time to update my profile picture on Facebook and I needed to go to the Lennon Wall to do that. As a study abroad student in Prague, I didn’t go to the Lennon Wall during the first month I was here, like everyone else in my program, because at first, I didn’t think it was worth it. I would see the pictures on social media with the typical John Lennon quotes to accompany them, but to me, it wasn’t a big deal.
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.
The biggest Czech health insurance company VZP has announced it will stop sending cancer patients to the Prague Proton Therapy Centre and arrange for them to get treatment in Munich instead. The health insurer, which has been locked in a drawn-out dispute with the center over a dubious contract signed in the past, claims that the proton therapy center has doubled the cost of treatment since the summer and the price of treating a patient is now significantly higher than it would be in Munich. The insurer refuses to recognize the dubious contract signed in the past and the cost of treatment for each patient is now being settled individually.
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.
If you think you know pretty much everything there is to see in Prague, you should definitely visit the website Praha neznámá or Prague Unknown. As the title suggests, it focuses on the lesser known historical, architectural and natural sights in the Czech capital, such as the first functionalist housing estate, a marshland situated just fifteen minutes from the city centre or an artificial lake where President Masaryk used to swim. I spoke to Praha neznámá’s founder Petr Ryska and started by asking him how he got the idea to create it in the first
Some 20,000 people attended a concert on Wenceslas Square on Monday, organized by Czech Radio, marking the 25th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution. Performers included notable personalities who figured in the 1989 revolution such as Michal Prokop and Jaroslav Hutka. During the evening, many lit candles at the memorial to Jan Palach and at the statue of St. Wenceslas, while some held signs echoing discontent from earlier in the day with the country’s president.
Tailored tours for relatively small groups with particular interests have become a trend in the tourism industry in recent times. One such excursion available in the Czech capital goes under the banner Eating Prague Tours and sees locals taking visitors to restaurants, cafés and food stores and offering them an “insider’s” insight into Czech cuisine. I discussed its services – and more – with Eating Prague Tours’ operations manager, Mirka Charlotte Kostelková.
The local town hall in Prague 1 has been fined 150,000 crowns over the Winged Lion Memorial, a tribute to Czech and Slovak airmen who served in the British RAF during WWII. Prague City Hall, which issued the fine, said the memorial was unveiled at Prague’s Klárov park without a permit from the city’s preservationists. A spokeswoman for Prague City Hall said they had no intention to disgrace the memory of the servicemen but that the law must be observed.
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