A new exhibition located in the upper part of Prague’s Wenceslas Square is displaying dozens of large format photos depicting the square’s golden era, which is in sharp contrast with its present state. What was once a living city boulevard has in the course of past decades turned into a rather unpleasant and crowded street with fast food venues, which locals try to avoid if they can. Ruth Frankova has more in this week’s In Focus:
This weekend, people in Prague will have a unique chance to visit some thirty buildings across the city, from historical sights to state-of-the art office buildings, which are otherwise inaccessible to the public. The event, called Open House, was originally founded in 1992 in London and over the years, more than thirty cities across the world have joined in. I talked with Open House’s Bohdana Rambousková and I first asked her about the history of the festival:
Prague’s Czernin Palace, the seat of the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is holding an open day on Friday, which is the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and a state holiday in the Czech Republic. Visitors will have an opportunity to view the interior of the palace, including the apartment of former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk, who tragically died there in 1948. The Open Day will also feature an exhibition of WWII photos by Ladislav Sitenský. The palace will be open between 9 AM and 5 PM. The building’s gardens will host a concert by Czech Philharmonic Jazz Band, starting at 3 PM. The Czernin Palace is one of the biggest Baroque buildings in the Czech Republic and has served the Czech Foreign Ministry since 1930s.
A dozen or so mainly young people protested against the presence of the head of France’s National Front, Marine Le Pen, at the Czech Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday. The protesters held up signs accusing Ms. Le Pen of being a fascist and denouncing the fact she had been allowed to speak in the lower house. The controversial politician was a delegate at a conference organised by Jiří Janeček of the marginal Civic Conservative Party.
Members of the Russian motorbike gang the Night Wolves have attended a ceremony in the Orthodox section of Prague’s Olšaný cemetery honouring the victims of WWII. Around 15 people wearing the emblems of the gang attended Wednesday’s ceremony. Police intervened to break up clashes between the bikers and opponents at the entrance to the cemetery, where supporters were also gathered. Czech officials said the controversial Night Wolves, who are close to Russian president Vladimir Putin, would need a permit to cross the Czech Republic.
Police in riot gear detained 12 people in a raid on the Cibulka squat in Prague on Wednesday morning. Dozens of squatters had ignored police calls to vacate the former farmhouse in the Prague 5 district. The move follows a criminal complaint from the owner of Cibulka, who said he was prevented from entering the building on Tuesday evening. The farmhouse, which is in a state of disrepair, has a history dating back to the 14th century.
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.
Michal Bregant is the director of the National Film Archive, which is tasked with preserving the Czech Republic’s rich cinema heritage and oversees over 150 million metres of film. Previously he headed another important institution, FAMU film school. A Praguer through and through, Bregant grew up on the city centre street Celetná. His family’s kitchen window overlooked the adjacent, narrow Kamzíkova – and there we take a short trip down memory lane at the start of our tour of “his Prague”.
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