Prague Castle, which is said to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of nearly 70,000 square metres, is set to undergo some significant restoration work this year. The reconstruction, which concerns for instance the Old Royal Palace and Saint Vitus Cathedral, is expected to cost some 290 million crowns. I spoke to František Kadlec of the Prague Castle Administration, who says the restoration of the castle buildings is a never-ending process:
Prague Castle is considered one of the symbols of the Czech state. Once the seat of Bohemian kings, it now houses the Office of the Czech President, and its museums and galleries annually attract millions of visitors. But for over a hundred years, Prague Castle was half-forgotten. With the imperial court residing in Vienna throughout the 19th century, the castle only served as a luxurious hotel for the royal family and their relatives and friends. A recently published book of memoirs entitled A Greeting from the Castle Hill now offers an insider’s
25 years ago today, the dissident playwright Václav Havel became the first non-communist president of Czechoslovakia since 1948. Back then, Edvard Beneš had resigned from office in the midst of a communist putsch led by Klement Gottwald. 41 years later, the communists would vote to destroy their own monopoly on power.
Newly released documents from Australia's top spy agency have revealed details of Czechoslovakian espionage down under, during the early years of the Cold War. The previously top-secret records outline how Czechoslovakians spied on behalf of the Soviets, and how they managed to recruit an Australian diplomat who eventually fled to Prague. Andrew Greene reports from Australia's capital, Canberra.
The name Jolyon Naegele is familiar to many who lived through the final years of communism in Czechoslovakia and other countries in the then Soviet Bloc. At that time Naegele was a roving Eastern European correspondent for the U.S. radio station Voice of America. In a special interview, he discusses his first impressions of Czechoslovakia in 1978, his experiences with the StB, meeting Václav Havel, the Velvet Revolution, and developments since then.
One of the staples of the Czech Christmas’, along with fried carp, Christmas cookies and fairy tales, is Jakub Jan Ryba’s Christmas Mass. The mass composed by a small-town teacher in 1796 has become the most popular piece of Czech Christmas music ever written. It is performed in churches, concert halls and resounds in millions of Czech homes at this time of year. So on Christmas Eve, we would like to share this musical experience with you and have selected a 1998 recording that has been hailed as the best recording of the Czech Xmas mass ever made.
On Thursday, December 18th, Czechs are marking the third anniversary of the death of Vaclav Havel, the legend of the Velvet Revolution and the country’s first post-communist president. Commemorative events are taking place in different parts of the country, but some critics point out that three years after his departure, the Czech Republic has strayed far from Vaclav Havel’s philosophy and ideals.