One of the biggest fires seen in Prague in decades has been brought under control, a spokesperson for the city’s fire service said in the early hours of Friday morning. The fire spread to a large area of the Vietnamese run SAPA market in Libuše in Prague 6 after breaking out at a clothing and footwear warehouse on Wednesday night. People living in the area were told to keep their windows closed because of dangerous fumes emanating from the market. The smoke could be smelled across a large area of Prague. The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Charles Bridge, Prague’s most famous landmark, which last year celebrated its 650th anniversary, has been undergoing a major reconstruction since August. The Czech Culture Ministry’s heritage inspection team has now come to a shocking conclusion: the ongoing repairs have done the bridge more harm than good. The report, published on the ministry’s website, claims that the reconstruction has allegedly harmed the aesthetic and artistic value of the bridge.
It is 90 years since the face of one of Prague’s best-known landmarks, its Old Town Square, changed dramatically. On November 3, 1918, the square’s prominent Marian column was torn down by Czechs who believed that it stood for defeat at the battle of Bílá Hora, and centuries of resultant Habsburg oppression. Some 90 years on, some Prague inhabitants are considering whether the monument should be rebuilt.
In recent years, for the first time in my life, I actually enjoy going to the bank, and not just because I have developed a rapport with the clerk who one day announced she was my “personal banker”. After a move of flat, I simply transferred my accounts to the most convenient branch – and, what do you know, that branch is housed in a masterpiece of inter-war Czech architecture with a fascinating history.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise… A walk around Prague’s scenic Císařský Ostrov will lead you to a gigantic replica Trojan horse, made and inhabited by Czech sculptor Ivan Nacvalač. The horse is home to a gallery, and since it opened in July, the site has played host to a number of impromptu concerts, and a summer full of barbecues open to all. I paid it a visit and asked Mr Nacvalač how it came about:
The activities of Czechoslovak armed units on the side of the Allied powers during World War I helped Czechs and Slovaks win consent to form their own state when the conflict ended in 1918. The legions that had been fighting in Russia, however, became embroiled in that country’s civil war, and didn’t get home until two years later. Their fascinating story is the subject of a new exhibition in Prague.
A number of hugely important historical moments have been remembered in the Czech Republic this year: the communist takeover of 1948, the Soviet-led invasion of 1968, and the signing of the Munich agreement in 1938. But there is also one anniversary that Czechs can mark with pleasure – the foundation of Czechoslovakia 90 years ago, on October 28th 1918. Among the institutions marking that day is Prague Castle, which has organised several events.
If you stumble across a little brass plaque on a walk in Prague’s Old Town next week, then the chances are it is going to be a ‘kámen zmizelého’ (‘stone of the vanished’). The project, organized by the Czech Union of Jewish Students, will eventually see stones commemorating victims of the Holocaust embedded in pavements all over the capital. The idea comes from Germany, as does the man making the memorials, Gunter Demnig. But the project coordinator at the Czech end is Petr Mandl. I met him on Wednesday morning to ask first about the name of the
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