Prague Dog Eat Blog

Contemporary Czech Cubism Art Exhibition

Mar 21, 13:33 (Filed under: Prague events )

If you are interested in contemporary Art and you would like to see what is on the Czech scene, you can visit the exhibition called Contemporary Czech Cubism, which is in the second floor of the Prague Old Town Hall on Old Town Square and is opened until 13th of April.

The exhibition is not much extensive, but it presents works by famous names of contemporary Czech Art scene. Of those, whose works are continuing in a tradition set up by one of avant-garde movements – by cubism, which has a strong tradition in the Czech Republic, because here the cubism appeared even in architecture and decorative Arts, which is unique. The authors of the exhibition says that many of today´s Czech artists are trying to overcome current negative trends as postmodern relativism and copying of western models, in doing so, they are going back to the firmness of modernism and they are looking for an inspiration in the home tradition. Today, people often speak about the end of Art, the exhibition is trying to show that Art in the Czech Republic have not yet finished, on the other hand, it is in the full blossom of creativity and the Art is again made to be understandable for ordinary people not just for (pseudo)intellectuals. So this is what is exhibition trying to say and show. You can visit it and make your own opinion. I did not find the exhibition excellent, but if you want to get to know some contemporary Czech Art, this is a way, how to do it, maybe together with visiting another contemporary Art Exhibition – Resetting, dedicated to the painting, in the Municipal Library of Prague.

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Matejska Pout Fair Equals Spring in Prague

Mar 13, 14:40 (Filed under: Prague events )

So, Matthews Fair is back! Just like every year around this time. But still, it’s time to celebrate. Why? This means not only joy for all the children in Prague, but also one very important thing – the long and cold winter is finally over and spring is inevitably coming to Prague!

Matthews Fair in Prague is the first sign that spring and spring break is here and that is why everybody loves it. Sure I like skiing and building snowmen but I just love the blooming flowers! And the start of Matthews Fair tells everyone, that this romantic time period is awaiting us soon.

So what exactly is the famous Matthews Fair, “Matejska pout” in Czech? It is without doubt the most popular and biggest fair in Prague, maybe even in the Czech Republic. Besides, it is the first spring fair in Europe. It is a fun park not only for children but for adults too.

You will find here all the amusing attractions possible. There are about 130 of them, no kidding! Just to mention some – roller coasters, houses of horror, Ferris wheels, bumping cars, carousels, shooting galleries, all possible kinds of swings, and tons of other things for which I don’t even know their names. But what I know for sure is that everyone can find there what he or she likes.

In addition to all the fun that the attractions bring, you can enjoy the accompanying program and buy some delicious sweets there – traditional is gingerbread in shapes of hearts with the names of your beloved ones, Turkish honey and cotton candy. But don’t worry. If you want to keep your diet, you can just visit one of many stands with “normal” food which are also available there.

Open is from 10am to 10pm at the weekends. From Tuesdays to Fridays it is open from 2pm to 9pm. Yes, it is closed on Mondays! The last performance will take place on April 13th. The Matthews Fair is on at Prague Exhibition Ground, which is near the tram station Vystaviste (trams 5, 12, 14, 15 and 17), not far from the subway station Nadrazi Holesovice (red line C).

You must pay an entrance fee to the Exhibition Ground which is 10 CZK during working days and 25 CZK at the weekends. The prices for the attractions vary from 20 CZK to 200 CZK. Of course you will pay more for those attractions which tease your adrenalin.

It should be said here that all attractions are checked regularly for its safety.

And one last advice for all men – don’t forget that if you visit Matthews Fair with your lady, it is almost mandatory that you shoot out a paper rose for her! It’s a nice Czech tradition, don’t you agree ladies? ;o)

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Czech Easter Holidays

Mar 2, 12:19 (Filed under: Culture )

Similarly to Christmas, Czech Easter carries little of the religious content which it is based upon. As atheism steadily became more and more common in the region, these customs became more of folk rituals, which brought people together. Christmas was also identified with winter solstice and Easter is commonly seen as festivities of the coming spring. All the elements did somehow fit together in the times when faith was something common, undisputed, matter- of- fact, something one did not reach after consideration and thought about the world, but what was an integral part of human life. As new forms of thought such as rationalism, 19th Century nationalism and socialism spread around Europe, turning its spiritual foundations upside down, the customs were losing their religious impact. The interesting thing is that not only people did not abandon them, they did not even abandon the Christian symbolism, though they don’t believe in it already. The obvious example is the Czech Ježíšek (“little Christ”), whom children address the wishes they have considering Christmas presents. He is turned into a nice family figure, nearly a fairy- tale character, part of a cosy home.

The transition from a religious event to a cultural one is probably natural, so I wouldn’t recommend the Christians to lament about it, because it only widens the gap between the believers and the atheists. On the other hand, reminding of the feast’s basis is reasonable, one should have some idea of the occasion he or she celebrates.

The feast is moveable, taking place between March 22 and April 25. The Easter Monday itself is preceded by a week of Christian festivities, which are often not reflected in the secular calendar- most people celebrate only in the last two days. Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, marks Christ’s coming into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday reminds of the day he had his Last supper with his followers. The Good Friday marks the day he, according to the bible, was Crucified. This is followed by Holy Saturday, when he was buried in a tomb. Easter Monday marks the day Christ was believed to have risen from the grave.
In the Christian tradition Easter is followed by the Ascension Thursday (Christ’s ascension to Heaven), Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi feasts.

The secularized, most common version is particularly interesting in the East Central Europe. In Czech Republic and Slovakia the celebrations are accompanied by the whipping ritual. Young men are supposed to spank ladies with a whip made of willow rods. The spanking is meant to bring health and beauty to its subjects. In Czech Republic the tradition is not very strong, the custom mostly carried out by children and predominantly in the country.
The contemporary Czech Easter consists mainly of family gatherings, meals and sometimes heavy drinking. The last mentioned is the reason why every Easter week has a downside to it, since it is usually accompanied by a considerable number of accidents, often tragic.

Still what most people associate with Easter is the chance for family members to be together, enjoying a short holiday and welcoming the end of winter. Though this year, with sub- zero temperatures at night and snowfall during the day, the coming of spring seems pretty far on the horizon.

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Red, yellow or green line? Take a subway around Praha

Feb 26, 13:58 (Filed under: Road tripping )

metro There are plenty of ways how to get around Praha. You can take a taxi, hop on a bus or a tram. But the easiest, the most convenient and usually the fastest way is to take a subway. The transportation system in Praha is quite easy and understandable. There are three lines; red one, yellow one and green one. All these lines run through the city centre and they are also connected with each other. You can switch the line at the transfer stations: Mustek, Muzeum and Florenc and continue your journey towards the final destination. The metro runs every day from 5 am until 1 am. During the traffic hours, it is recommended to take a subway. You will easily get to around the city in a metro while people who drive cars will be upset about the traffic in the centre.

When traveling by metro, it is necessary to purchase a ticket. You can buy the ticket at the yellow ticket-vending machine, or just write text message DPT to 902 06 26 and you will receive an sms ticket. Make sure you buy and validate the ticket when entering metro space. The controllers usually check the tickets inside the metro. And just remember metro is fast and convenient.

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Czech songster Marketa Irglova is going to sing at Oscar ceremony

Feb 23, 15:41 (Filed under: People )

irglova and hansard One of the most successful Czech singers of these days is young and modest Marketa Irglova. This year she was nominated, together with her boyfriend Glen Hansard, for the prestigious American Academy Award – the famous Oscar prize with her song Falling Slowly. This song appears in the fabulous Irish movie Once, which was the biggest film surprise last year. The Low budget film achieved a great success for its romantic story and wonderful music.

Once tells a non-ordinary but still quite simple love-story of young Czech emigrant and an Irish street musician, who meet each other on the Dublin’s most popular Grafton Street, where the guy is trying to make his money by singing and playing his guitar. Those two start a strange romantic relationship and the whole story is framed by amazing music. The movie is great and if you haven’t seen it yet, I strongly recommend it to you.

The film became a great hit after its appearance at Sundance – American Independent Film Festival and was praised by such important film industry personas as Steven Spielberg, who even met Irglova and Hansard. Those two also started to appear at popular American talk shows as well as having a lot of highly visited life shows both in Europe and the U.S.

But the leading song of the movie is much older. It was created already in 2002 when Glen Hansard was visiting the Czech Republic with his band The Frames, he composed it together with Marketa Irglova, who was playing the piano. And before it appeared in Once, it was already used as film music in Czech director Jan Hrebejk’s film Kraska v nesnazich (The beauty in troubles). But it became widely popular only after appearing in the internationally successful musical Once.

But because of the fact that song was for the first time used in the Czech film, there were some problems with the Oscar nomination. The rule says that the song that is nominated for the Oscar should be created especially for the concrete film – which this time was the musical Once. After some discussions it fortunately ended well, because Glen Hansard claimed that he has already the concept of the film Once in his mind while composing the song.

When composing the song with Hansard, Marketa Irglova, the girl from a small Moravian town – Valaske Mezirici was only 14, but she already had quite good musical education, playing the piano pretty well. Now she is 20, during making of the Once movie, she started dating Glen Hansard and they are still together. Although the fact she is going to walk on the red carpet this Sunday, sing on the Oscar ceremony and maybe even hold the golden statue, she stays modest. She does not have any star manners, prefers to wear modest clothing and according to her own words has no intentions to continuing her career as a movie star, she is even planning to record the last disc with Hansard and then to do “something normal, as working with kids at nursery school” as she says. Maybe her modesty is one of the reasons why she is so successful, so lets see if the Falling Slowly song is going to get the Oscar. What do you think, do they deserve it?

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“Albrecht of Waldstein and his era” exhibition is prolonged until 2nd of March

Feb 8, 14:45 (Filed under: Prague events )

The exhibition “Albrecht of Waldstein and his era” was, because of the extremely high interest of the public, prolonged until 2nd of March, so you still have a change to see it. This is an important event for everyone, who is interested in Czech history, as Albrecht of Waldstein is one of it´s most important figures.

Albrecht of Waldstein was a very controversial person, the commercials for the exhibitions even ask: “was he an angel or a devil?” You probably will not find it out on the exhibition, although you can get to know much more about him here. But what is the most important – you can get to know something about the time he lived in.

There are exhibited various kinds of furniture, cloths, jewels, religious objects, arms and so on from his time. Some of those Albrecht used himself, others are similar to those he might have used. So for example, there is his own traveling chest on one side and on the other there are cloths, which he did not were himself, but he probably had very similar ones. And you can see the halberd, which might have been used to murder him. There are also many portraits of Albrecht of Waldstein, some of them are huge paintings, some of them small engravings, and there are even some statues of him, so visitors can have a good picture how did he look like. But also how did look like the Art of that time in general, because there are also various Art objects from this period.

The exhibition brinks its visitors back to the first half of the 17th century. You can even see such interesting objects from that time as the dolly-house or the very realistic model of a boat, as well as astrological and astronomical instruments.

All of exhibited objects are described both in English and in Czech. They are also screening here an interesting documentary, which reveals a lot of Albrecht´s live, but it is unfortunately only in Czech, without English subtitles.

The place is quite crowded, as many people want to see the exhibition. When we went there on Sunday afternoon, we even had to wait in the line to buy the tickets, but the waiting did not take longer then fifteen minutes.

The exhibition takes place in the most appropriate place – in the riding school of the Waldsteinian palace, which Albrecht built. Opened is daily, from 10 AM to 7 Pm, on Thursdays even until 9 PM. It is very close to Malostranska metro station (green line). The entrance fee is 140 Czk full-price, 90 Czk reduced for seniors and students, and 60 Czk fro children up to 15 years and students of Art schools, children younger then 6 years are for free. Family ticket costs 290 Czk.

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Albrecht von Waldstein – controversial figure of the Czech history

Feb 7, 15:29 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

Now there is an interesting exhibition about Albrecht of Waldste in Prague, but who exactly he was? That is a hard question. Lets have a brief look on him.

He was born in 1583 into poor protestant branch of Protestant family. Both of his parents died when he was still a child, so his uncle raised him, he got a good education, he even spent some time at prestigious Bologna university. At the age of 21 he started to make his career in the army, fighting against the Ottoman Turks and Hungarian rebels. In the beginning he was just the lowest soldier, but he was very brave, so he went up fast. For his bravery and extravagance he even got a nickname “der dolle von Wallenstein” (foolish Waldstein). But since his childhood he was also often sick, he did not like loud noises, was very nervous and had to keep a strict diet because of his health. But he was very ambitious so he got a good position in the army. In 1606 he converted to the Catholicism. Later he came back to Bohemia to marry a rich widow Lucretia Nikossie von Landeck, who possessed the estates in Moravia. Lucretia died in 1614, so Abrecht married in 1917 for the second time, to Isabella Catharina von Harrach, with whom he had two children, a son who died very young and a daughter.

But Albrecht became a really powerful man only because of Thirty Years´ war. On it´s beginning, the Catholics were fighting with Protestants in Bohemia, and Albrecht stood on the side of the Catholics, which was also the side of the Habsburgs and the emperor, so when they won, he got some of the estates confiscated to Protestants. Then he ruled over the territory of Friedland (Frydlant) in northern Bohemia, he was a capable ruler so his land became very economically successful. He also managed that the enemy army commands avoided his land, so it was known as Terra felix (a Latin expression, which in English means Happy land).

Later the emperor Ferdinand the Second and other Habsburgs got into troubles, when their enemies made an anti-Habsburgs ally. So Albrecht offered to help the emperor, to build for him a strong and powerful army. So he said it happened. But as Albrecht was becoming more and more powerful and rich, more and more people becoming jealous on him, probably even the emperor himself. But Albrecht also was not innocent, later he was even considering the possibility to join the part fighting against the emperor. In 1934 he was accused of perfidy by the prominent generals of his army and according to their initiative murder in town of Cheb. Interesting is that during his lifetime, the famous astrological Johannes Kepler made a horoscope for Albrecht, and in this quite accurate horoscope was the year 1634 indicated as a very unhappy one.

Albrecht of Waldstein is definitely a very controversial figure of the Czech history. Was he a hero or a traitor? Or maybe both?

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Jindrich Streit – photographic exhibition in Prague

Dec 28, 11:34 (Filed under: Prague events )

jindrich streit talent-cz On the 31st of October started an extensive exhibition of Jindrich Streit´s photographs at Stone Bell House, which is part of City Gallery Prague. The old building of the House, situated in Staromestske Square nr. 13, is very interesting on it’s own as it was the most formidable Prague town palace in 14th century, probably used by the king Jan Lucembursky himself. Now there is this photographic exhibition, huge retrospective of Streit´s work, which shows pictures taken between years 1965 – 2005. Jindrich Streit is worldly known documentary photographer, most famous by his pictures of Czech villages of Bruntalsko region in the 1980´s, where he lived himself. He captured there the villages in the time of real socialism, without any romantic or idealizing pathos so characteristic for depicting Czech villages in previous times. But in the communist period, he was persecuted for his work; even his negatives were once confiscated during a house search.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 he could finally work and exhibit freely. He continued in shooting pictures of Czech villages, but also traveled abroad, for example to France, Hungary or Russia. Although his most exhibited collection of 1990´s was On the way to freedom, showing the pleasantness as well as hell of drug addiction.

This retrospective is pretty extensive and definitely worth of seeing. Streits photographs are full of an admiration for simple human existence and they show a lot of human beauty, even when it is sometimes hidden under dirty clothes or in ugly exteriors.

The exhibition is opened until 3rd of February 2008. Entrance fee is 120 Czk full price, 60 Czk reduced.

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The Founding of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia (Part 2)

Dec 28, 11:19 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

former czechoslovakia The days the republic was founded were marked with great political cultural activity. There were political speeches, mass demonstrations and strikes, the general strike if January 22 for example. The 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Theatre turned into a celebration of Czech independence struggle. Leading political figures used the event to transform it into a political one and there seems to have been no problem with that: the atmosphere must have been very ecstatic and hopeful. The bloody, exhausting was ending, the Austrian- Hungarian Empire was in ruins and the hopes for an independent state had a strong basis, since Masaryk had negotiated with the world’s major powers that they would accept the independent Czechoslovak state. On the other hand, it was very turbulent a time and harsh in many respects. What we tend to forget is the disastrous Spanish flu epidemic, which was devastating Europe those days. And, of course, the economy was weakened and the question of war reparations was hanging in the air.

What followed was an escalation of pressure: manifestations and strikes, independent assemblies. Emperor Karl I tried to settle tensions down by offering a federation, but its shape was unacceptable- Czechs would lose the border regions and Slovakia would remain a part of Hungary. However, until October 27 the regime still proved strong enough to contain all-out political demonstrations.

On the mentioned day the foreign affairs minister of Austria- Hungary sent a letter to President Wilson, asking for peace talks. Although it was not a capitulation yet, it was interpreted as such by the public and, at the news center on Wenceslas square, in front of the exposed printed news, a demonstration was formed. Also, because the minister mentioned self- determination of Slavic states, it was seen as an approval of Czech and Slovak independence. Tens of thousands marched through Příkopy, crossed the Old Town Square and then returned to the Wenceslas Square. The numbers grew considerably and the new beginning was taken for granted.

Apart from Masaryk one ought to remember the role of, among others, Karel Kramár, Vladimír Svehla or Alois Rasín, who unfortunately became victim of assassination five years later.
The new state was declared under the St Wenceslas monument on Wenceslas square at 11 am, 28 October. Other cities were to follow, but there were certain communication problems due to lack of time and period technology, the result being that the declaration was mostly a Prague event.
The Slovaks formally joined the Czech declaration several days later.

Continue to The Founding of the Republic (Part 1)

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Traditional Czech Christmas

Dec 22, 14:44 (Filed under: Culture )

If you are in Prague before Christmas, you can feel Christmas mood everywhere around you. There is a richly decorated Christmas tree on every bigger Square, there is a Christmas market on Old Town Square, decorations in almost every shop and Christmas music is playing everywhere. But have you ever wondered how ordinary Czech people spend Christmas?

The first thing, which may surprise you, is the fact, that it is not Santa Claus who gives gifts to little kids in the Czech Republic, but Little Jesus. He comes to the house silently in the evening of 24th of December, without being seen by anyone and leaves all the gifts under the Christmas tree. And in some families, he even brings the tree and decorates it. When he is ready, before disappearing, rings on a little bell, and then kids run into the room, amazed what Little Jesus had left there for them. To thank him, kids (accompanied by the rest of the family) can sing some Christmas songs celebrating his nativity, and then all the family has dinner.

The typical Czech Christmas dinner is very rich and for someone can be pretty unusual, compared with what is typical to eat for Christmas dinner in the U.K., the USA or other countries. In some families, they have a starter, which can be ham, cheese, some vegetable salad or so on, then usually comes a fish soup, made from a carp and some vegetable. The main dish is the most often a fish – a carp, accompanied with a homemade potato salad (consisting of potatoes, vegetable, and salad cream, also sometimes ham). Alternative main dish is so called “kuba”; an old Czech meal made from mushrooms and peeled barley. And after the main course, there is time for a desert, there are many kinds of home made Christmas cookies, some families can also have an exotic fruits, nuts and so on.

There is also one old tradition in the Czech Republic, saying that one, who will not eat the whole day until the dinner, will see the gold little pig in the evening. But obviously, hardly anyone will manage not to eat anything until the dinner.

And after the dinner, there is finally the time, which kids are always expecting so impatiently – the time to unwrap the presents. The following days, 25th and 26th are (as well as 24th) national Holidays, and people mostly spent them with their families, and friends, visiting each other, having festive lunches together and having rest from ordinary days rush.

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The Founding of the First Republic of Czechoslovakia (Part 1)

Dec 19, 15:19 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

Throughout the 19th Century, the Czechoslovak lands were experiencing a renaissance of national self- esteem, nationalism in the older sense (closer to the way we use the word “patriotism” these days). It was largely related to the cultivation and re-statement of the Czech language and carried out to great extent by cultural activities. Many of the time’s leading political figures were scholars. This includes the first president of the Republic.

t.g.masaryk Masaryk was already very well known towards the end of the century. He had decided to face the public opinion on two occasions. One was an anti-Semitic criminal case, where he defended the Jewish victim of the hatred campaign. The other was more damaging, as he argued the case against two fake Early Middle Age epics, written by two contemporary poets. The epics were widely accepted as true and statues were named after heroes of the texts. Together with a handful of other scholars, notably the linguist Jan Gebauer, Masaryk faced severe depiction. Many of the times’ great cultural figures joined the newspaper hotheads in labeling the scholars as agents of the Austrians or enemies of the nation.

Several decades later, as he accepted the role of the first president, he may have been the most beloved figure in the state. There was a lot of enthusiasm and naivety, Masaryk was often treated as a Tsar-like Father of the Nation, flawless, perfect, undisputed. The twist in the perception of this man was extreme. Why? Maybe the public took time and realized that national identity and dignity can’t be based on a lie, however well- meant may it be. And he proved his devotion to the Czechoslovak independence transparently enough on many occasions. A respected figure, he developed strong ties with the Western powers’, whose support was essential in 1918. Notoriously it was President Wilson’s claim of a right for self- determination and his explicit support of Czechoslovak independence. Not to forget Czechoslovak military units, the independent legions fighting abroad on the side of Allied powers.

What we should also bear in mind is the fact that there was no consensus about Czechoslovak independence within the country itself. Prague was indeed the centre of the movement against monarchy, but there were various voices, some advocating the view that monarchy should be preserved. It was, in eyes of many, at least a stable subject and there were fears about the new state’s vitality. This view was not shared by the public and Masaryk became the symbol of the more radical, uncompromising stance, trusted that he will manage the new state and in most respects he did.

Continue to The Founding of the Republic (Part 2)

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Café Slavia – Side By Side With Artists

Dec 10, 13:05 (Filed under: Prague pubs, restaurants and cafes )

famous kavarna slavia So, winter has approached once again, wind is cold and the temperature is annoyingly low. Then the best thing to do, after a tiring sightseeing tour, is to find a cozy and WARM place where you can refresh yourself over a cup of a delicious hot chocolate, tea, coffee or any other beverage. A place where you can admire the beauty of Prague from the inside. Yes, there is such a place!

The Grand Café Slavia is truly a Café with a big “C”. It has had a long and fascinating history. Just consider where it is situated – right on the corner opposite the National Theatre, overlooking the Vltava River. As if this was not sufficient, Slavia Café is a place with a great view of the Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and the Petrin Tower as well. Isn’t this enough?

You really don’t have to take any more steps – the whole Prague is in front of you. You can sip your coffee, watch the scenery and let the atmosphere engulf you. And the atmosphere is really touching.

Café Slavia, opened in 1881 just like the National Theatre, and its clients have literally seen the history walking by – the latest immense event was the students demonstration on November 17, 1989, which took place just under the big windows, that later turned into so called Velvet Revolution, and brought democracy back for the Czech people.

It was and still is a meeting place for artists or intellectuals, including the former president Vaclav Havel. The great thing is that those popular people would sit just by the table next to yours, drinking the same coffee, reading the same newspapers, sharing the same room. This is the special atmosphere of Café Slavia, you never know, who is sitting near you. A famous Czech writer? Politician? Actor? Since the National Theatre is so close, you might get lucky. But it is true that tourists will probably not even notice them. For Czechs or someone who knows Czech culture well it is more fun.

The prices for food in Café Slavia are adjusted to its outstanding position, so a bit higher, but you can find much more expensive restaurants in Prague. For a main dish you pay around 150 CZK. Prices for drinks are normal. Considering what you get for the price apart from the food or drinks you order, I do recommend it.

If you decide to give it a try, make sure to find a place by the riverside windows so that your view is perfect. It is really romantic. Café Slavia is situated on Smetanovo nabrezi 2, just by the tram station Narodni divadlo – trams 6, 9, 17, 18, 21, 22 or 23. It is within 5min lazy-walk from the subway station Narodni trida (yellow line B). Open is daily from 8am to 11pm.

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Zizkov - where it got its name

Dec 8, 14:36 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

A relatively young part of Prague, traditionally an area of working-class livelihoods and a place of the symbolic conflict between the old crown city and the new urbanist one. Originally a plain hill which was later turned into a vineyard, Zizkov had to wait for its status of a town until 1881. The hill is called Vitkov and it was the place of a major 1420 battle between the Hussit warlord Jan Zizka and the king’s armies. The successful warlord’s name is the basis of the name of the whole quarter and the hill is dominated by a monument of his.

The Hussit movement, called after Jan Hus, a Czech priest burned alive for his critique of the Catholic Church in 1415, is still a controversial part of the Czech history. On one hand an act of courage and a will to go against the rich and powerful Church elite, on the other a massive rampage, which drowned its modern thoughts in blood.

It played a major role in the 19th Century, mainly its second half, as the Czech nationalists (patriots we would say today) used it often as an argument of the nation’s potential, as the Czechs, between 1419 and 1434, were able to frighten the elites of the whole Europe. On the other hand and sentiments aside, the Hussits and especially Zizka, were also responsible for numerous atrocities and unjustifiable cruelty, mainly towards monks and nuns of the conquered monasteries. The movement also brought sheer destruction to what we would today call “cultural heritage” and there are historians who claim it actually postponed the reformatory process. By being so brutal and radical the Hussits prepared fertile ground for the conservatives. All the anti- reformists had to do was point at the horrors of the berserk rebel armies and used it to discredit the movement altogether. The ideas of a church close to the common man, of the elites having to strengthen ties with the people, of some amount of religious freedom, could hardly have been rejected as easily.

In my opinion the key question lies on the same level as in the case of other revolutionary movements of the past centuries: the great difference between the ethos and the realization, the question whether such a cruel and remorseless chain of events could at all be seen positively. However a different case that is, I think the moral problem is in many ways similar to that of the French Revolution.

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The Palace of Culture / The Congress Centre - Palac Kultury / Kongresove Centrum

Dec 6, 12:56 (Filed under: Architecture )

congress centre prague This unmistakable building was a product of the seventies’ idea of pompous architecture. Neighboring Vyšehrad and the Nusle Bridge, it is very visible cold and slick. In my opinion it presents the better of the socialist architecture. It is functionalist (or neo- functionalist), but the shapes are relatively tasteful, the overall impression is light, especially in sunny weather, and it fits very well into the spot, which is indeed a cross- section of several motorways leading to roots of the large bridge. Of course, it may be seen as sad that the place was turned into a concrete zone in the first place, but there’s not much that can be done about that.

The decision to build the palace came in February 1975. The Party officials intended the palace to present grounds for large exhibitions, concerts, Party gatherings etc. The competition resulted in the choice of a team of architects led by Jaroslav Mayer. The construction took four years and the palace was opened in 1981.

The project reflects the multiple functions the building has, thus not being symmetrical in shape or interior. There is quite a large public terrace in front of the building, with impressive views on the city. Walking through this place of random gatherings leads directly to one of the gates to Vyšehrad. This allows you to make a truly sightseeing, or maybe “wonder view” walk from the Vyšehrad metro station (placed at the heals of the Congress Centre) to the Vyšehrad fortifications and back. It’s also wise to use opportunity to descend to Podskalí once you’re finished with the old castle area, since it offers yet another face of Prague history.

The Congress Centre, as the building is called since 1995, contains two important halls. Most important of all, the Congress Hall , which has the capacity of more than 2,700 seats. There also other halls, places for multiple use, including cultural gatherings and administrative premises.

It was re-constructed in 1998- 2000. The major event on the spot was the IMF and the World Bank Summit in 2002. A lot could be said about this event alone, since it brought large, often chaotic demonstrations, which in my opinion exceeded the acceptable range only in a few isolated situations. Anyway, seen from the view of the Congress Centre, the summit was a success and the building remains a prestigious multifunction centre.

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