It's Sunday at Prague's Old Town Square - the holiday season is well underway. A magnificent thirty metre tall evergreen, dubbed Charles the Great, this year's official Christmas tree, stands in front of the Tyn cathedral. It's biting weather but tourists warm themselves with grog and Turkish honey, as they wander among the Christmas market stalls. And, of course, the pony rides are back for the children, a coral with a llama, a donkey, and miniature goats eating straw, while the band plays Dixieland jazz.
It's been absolutely freezing here in the Czech Republic for the last week or so, and the weather forecasters say we can expect the sub zero temperatures to last for another month. While just waiting for the tram for ten minutes makes most of us shiver, spare a thought for the poor souls who have to work outside all day in such weather. On Wednesday morning I braved the elements to see what life is like these days for stall-holders on Prague's Charles Bridge.
Tomas Vachuda was four years old when his family went to America in 1968 on what was to have been a vacation. In August Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and the family stayed. They didn't see their homeland again for over twenty years. Now Tomas is in his late thirties and is back in his hometown. He runs the Prague office of an international consultancy firm, coming and going between the United States and the Czech Republic. Here he recalls his return in 1990 and how his early childhood memories were confronted with the reality of post-Velvet
Rising like a futuristic space ship above the old working class quarter of Zizkov, is one of Prague's most interesting, if controversial, buildings - Zizkov TV tower. The TV tower is, at 216 metres, the tallest building in the city, and they say on a clear day it can be seen from a full 100 kilometres away. Often regarded as a relic of the communist era, Zizkov TV tower wasn't actually completed until ten years ago, in 1992.
One of Prague's most dominant historic buildings, the Jindrich Tower, on the edge of Senovazne Square in the city centre, will soon be reopened to the public. Most unusually, after extensive, and careful reconstruction, the historic structure, which dates back to the late 1500s, will house exclusive new shops, a restaurant and cafe, which will almost certainly be welcomed by both locals and tourists. The reopened tower will also make one of the best views of the old city available again. Jan Velinger
Almost two months ago the Prague district of Karlin was seen on TV screens around the world, when the worst floods to hit the Czech Republic in hundreds of years put the district two or three metres under water. No other district of Prague suffered as much during the floods, and local people are still having to get by without shops, restaurants or public transport. Two houses in Karlin collapsed and others had to be demolished due to the structural damage caused by the floods. Some unfortunate residents are still awaiting a decision on the fate
The European Union's Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, gave the Czech government reasons to be satisfied on Thursday, when he said that to all intents and purposes the EU already considered the Czech Republic an EU member. The main reason for his brief visit to the country on Thursday was to look at the damage caused by the recent catastrophic floods, and to offer EU support. Radio Prague's David Vaughan joined Mr Verheugen as he visited one of the most devastated parts of old Prague.
Earlier this week, Prague Town Hall approved new conditions for filming in the capital, particularly in the old centre of the city. While until now, Prague seemed to be a cheap paradise for foreign film crews, in the near future it might become as expensive as Western European cities. Alena Skodova reports:
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