Although the Czech Republic is better known in sporting circles for its ice hockey and football prowess, it also has a surprisingly strong horse-racing tradition, which dates back to the days of the Habsburg Empire. For well over a century, the highlight of the racing season in this country has been the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, which is sometimes known as the "Czech Grand National".
On Tuesday a court in Prague began hearing the case against Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, the last living participant in one of the most notorious show trials of communist-era Czechoslovakia. In 1950, Mrs Brozova-Polednova was a 29-year-old prosecutor who helped condemn the democratic politician Milada Horakova to death. Now 86, she is being tried as an accomplice to murder.
This month the Canadian Ambassador to Prague Michael Calcott hosted a panel discussion at the Canadian residence recalling cooperation between Czech dissidents and Canadian officials in the years leading up to the fall of communism. During the mid-1980s, the end of the period known as the Normalisation, key officials at the embassy went out on a limb, risking careers to help dissidents and their cause, even going so far as to smuggle dissident writing, even going so far as to smuggle dissident writing (Samizdat) out of the country. Documents included
When you enter the gallery of the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague these days, it is as if you have stepped back in time. Students of the university have prepared an exhibition dedicated to the housing culture of the 1970s - the era that saw the most building of standardized housing estates all over communist Czechoslovakia. Indeed, panelaky - grey, pre-fabricated blocks of flats - are a prominent feature of almost every Czech city or town. I asked one of the curators of the exhibition, Pavel Vancat, to explain its title: Husakovo
Sir Nicholas Winton, the British man whose foresight and determination helped save 669 mostly Jewish Czechoslovak children from the Holocaust, paid a visit to Prague this week, and was given a rapturous reception. Now 98, this was his fifth visit to the Czech capital since the extraordinary story of his heroic deeds first emerged in the late 1980s. That story was captured in the moving documentary The Power of Good, by director Matej Minac. He's been showing the film in schools around the country, and organised a special event at Prague's Congress
Czech Books comes today from the Cafe Union in Prague's Nusle district, where I'm joined by one of the Czech Republic's most honoured and widely read novelists. Arnost Lustig, born in 1926, was sixteen when he was sent to the Terezin ghetto during the war, and went on to survive Auschwitz. After the war he worked as a journalist, and went on to become a novelist of international reputation. He is still very active as a writer, with all his work strongly influenced by his experiences of the Second World War. His recent novels, "Lovely Green Eyes",
Prague is full of old and beautiful churches, often crouching between hubbubs of modern social activity. Many regularly play host to concerts, maintaining through music a sense of continuity of past and present. But what about the city's many once significant churches that now are disused, or whose foundations lie beneath the trappings of the modern era? Well now a new exhibition at the Czech Museum of Music in Prague is using the same musical medium to resurrect the atmosphere of the city's bygone centres of worship. And the location couldn't
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Czech town of Dvur Kralove occupied an important and prestigious position. The town formed part of the Czech queen's dowry, as its name, which roughly translates as 'Queen's settlement', would suggest. With the disappearance of a Czech royal family, however, things went a bit quiet for Dvur Kralove. In modern times, the town has been most famous for its Christmas-decoration factory, and its zoo. But Dvur Kralove has also played host to one of the stranger and more gruesome episodes of modern Czech history - though
Much has been written about crimes committed against Czechs and Slovaks by Czechoslovakia's Communist regime, which held power in the country for forty-one years. But chilling revelations continue to come to light, even today: recently the Czech press highlighted the role of the communist secret police, the StB, in the abductions (some well known, others less so) of around twenty Czechs and Slovak émigrés in the first years of the Cold War - individuals the regime perceived as a threat. StB officers, though not always successful, resorted to any