Prague Dog Eat Blog

The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague

Sep 24, 14:02 (Filed under: Culture )

decorative arts muzeum The Museum of Decorative Arts is situated in the monumental 19th century neo-renaissance building on 17. Listopadu Street, number 2. It is easily accessible from metro Staromestska (green line) or tram (numbers 18, 17) or bus (number 133) stations.

The museum, founded in 1885, collects, preserves and exhibits examples of both historic and contemporary artistic crafts, applied arts and design, both of Czech and word origin. The new permanent exhibition was settled here in 2000. It has five basic parts – Votive Hall, Story of the Fibre, Born in Fire, Print and Image, Treasury.

In Votive Hall visitors can admire the most valuable exhibits of the collection, there is so called Karlstejn Treasure, consisting of medieval silver objects found in Karlstejn Castle during its 19th century reconstruction. Story of the Fibre presents a variety of textile products – antique tapestries, copic textiles, antique fabrics, printed textiles, liturgical vestments, textile art in the 20th century, cloths, there is also included an exhibition of wedding gowns since 1860´s till present times, as well as an exhibition of toys and furniture for lodging cloths and textiles. Born in Fire shows exhibits of glass and ceramics, Print and Image is dedicated to various ways of printing, there are to be seen both antique and modern books, applied graphics, photographs made before 1950, old Czech posters and furniture which is related to writing and graphics. Finally Treasury presents artistic use of metals and other materials, there are displayed various jewels, liturgical treasury, as well as unique pieces of furniture decorated by expensive materials.

The Museum also helds temporary exhibitions, currently there are those: Ignac Preissler (1676-1741) – Painter of Glass and Porcelain, Czech Glass 1945 – 1980/Production at the time of Misery and Illusions, and attractive exhibition Alphonse Mucha – the Czech Master of Belle Epoque.

Museum is opened on Tuesdays from 10:00 till 19:00, Wednesdays-Sundays from 10:00 till 18:00. The entrance fee for both permanent and temporary exhibitions is 120 CZK full price and 70 CZK discount (students, children, seniors). Family ticket costs 300 CZK. There is also a possibility to visit only the permanent or only the temporary exhibition, which is for 80 CZK full price, 40 CZK discount. And, on Tuesdays, after 17:00 is free entry.

In the museum building there is also a library with a study room, accessible for the public (you have to pay, but not much), which is concerned on historical literature of art and includes publications in different languages, and there is also a cafeteria.

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Mladá Boleslav – a town of cars

Sep 23, 21:14 (Filed under: Outside Prague )

The square in Mlada Boleslav Tthe unique former Hussite Chapel If you already saw everything you wanted to see in Prague and you also visited such Czech turistic highlights as Kutna Hora or Cesky Krumlov, you may take a trip to Mlada Bolaslav. This city is not a typical place visited by many foreign tourists. But it is close to Prague and a visit there gives you an option to see how it looks in other places in the Czech Republic, beside those very turisticaly popular ones.

You can get there easily by bus, either from the bus station situated by Metro station Florenc (both red and yellow line) or by Metro station Cerny most (red line). Travel time is around one hour. It is also possible to go by train, which takes a bit longer, but someone might find travelling by train more comfortable or romantic.

Mlada Boleslav is famous mostly as a town where popular Czech cars Skoda are made since 1895. Because of this fact is sometimes called as “a town of cars“. If you are into cars, then you can visit here the Skoda Car Museum (Skoda auto muzeum). There are exhibited both old and new types of cars, engines, photographs… there.

But in Mlada Boleslav, there are also other places of interest. For example renaissance city hall with a tower from which is nice view on the town or an old castle now used as a history museum. Then there is the unique former Hussite Chapel, built in renaissance style, now used for concerts and as an exhibition hall (half or the The interior of the Hussite Chapel permanent exhibition is dedicated to avant-garde Czech-Jewish painter and poet Frantisek Gellner, who was born in Mlada Boleslav, the other half is dedicated to Czech painter Ludek Malasek, who also lived in this town).

Those who are interested in modern architecture should take a look on some of Jiri Kroha´s work. This famous Czech architecture designed some constructivist buildings for Mlada Boleslav in interwar period. The dynamic building of technical school is the most interesting one of them.

And if you eventually get tired of all that cars, monuments and architecture, you can relax in a huge forest park called Stepanka, located very close to the city centre.

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The Pankrac skyscrapers project approved

Sep 22, 11:20 (Filed under: Other )

The future face of Pankrac [visualization ECM] There has been a new development in the case of Pankrac skyscrapers. Recently there was a verdict of the Czech Ministry of Culture, approving the controversial project. It was to great extent due to a UNESCO guarantee that Prague won’t be deleted from its list if she should let the skyscrapers be built.

The discussion has been going on for years. It is typical in many ways, a clash of developers’ pragmatism, uninterested in the impact their plans might have on the environment with the conservative stance of those who live in the place. Any new project has to face rejection from some of the residents, any change of the environment is unpleasant and potentially damaging. However, it is generally understood that the project is supposed to be good. Pankrac has been semi- abandoned for many years, with large plains of unused terrain and awful half-completed skyscrapers, lacking any relation between them. The new project is supposed to bring new life into the area, to create a new center in the now less attractive of a site.

At this moment it is unclear whether it will or will not serve the purpose. There are reasons to believe it will not. The centre is supposed to be a clearly commercial one: shopping malls, fast foods, offices. Necessary to add, the UNESCO may not punish Prague in any way, but it’s certainly not happy about the plans. It expressed great concerned and has an inquiry carried out into the project.

It is always a very difficult question how to modernize a city like Prague, especially the parts already damaged by ignorance of the past. The strong argument of the project’s defenders is simple: the Prague panorama is already disrupted, the skyscrapers are already there and they won’t be demolished. We can leave the place alone (in a sorry shape) or try to give it some integrity. The two giants were built in the seventies, regardless what will they cause to the city panorama. They made a cut into it, they are like sole teeth, they seem totally inappropriate.

The project may be the only way out, yet it depends on how we take it. The new giants should be interesting (this too seems questionable) and they should be useful, a place of gathering of the city community. And they shouldn’t be a reason for a needless clash with UNESCO.

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Prague legends – Golem

Sep 18, 15:30 (Filed under: Other )

There are many legends about Prague and people who lived here. One of the most famous ones is about Golem.

It should be mentioned, that in Jewish tradition, golem is an animated being made of inanimate matter. There are few stories about different golems, but Prague one is definitely the most popular out of all of them. The story about him has many slightly different versions, but basically says that in the second half of 16th century well educated Rabbi Jehuda Ben Bezalel, also known as rabbi Loew, who lived in Prague Jewish ghetto, created a big clay figure, Golem, to protect Jews from hostile attacks. Well, this was Rabbi’s intention. He brought Golem into life by following special rituals, so Jews would have a strong protector. But soon, Golem started to be more and more violent, he was attacking innocent Christians, according to some versions of the legend also Jews and he even turned against his creator.

People were scared of Golem, so emperor asked Rabbi Loew to destroy the dangerous creature, and in return, he promised him that attacks against Jews would stop. The key how to destroy Golem was on his forehead. When Rabbi was creating him, he wrote there a world in Hebrew letters, which transcripted into Latin alphabet would be “emet”, it means life. To destroy him, he rubbed out the first letter of this word, “met” means dead in Hebrew, so all the signs of life disappeared from Golem. It is said, that his body was left in the attic of the Old Town Synagogue and could be still found there.

The story about Golem is pretty well known in the Czech Republic. Also because of the popular movie comedy from 1951, in Czech called Cisaruv pekar a pekaruv cisar (Emperor´s Baker and Baker’s Emperor) in the US this movie was released under the name The Emperor and the Golem.

And of course, Golem’s story was many times featured in literature; we could mention a Nobel Prize holder Isaac Bashewish Singer’s short novel Golem or very interesting mysterious novel of the same name by Gustav Meyring. There is even featured a ballet show in the National theatre, inspirited by Meyring´s novel.

And, Hybernia Theatre prepared a musical about Golem, the show is in Czech, but with subtitles, thought might be interesting also for foreign visitors.

Beside all those books and shows, Golems also appears in the name of few restaurants and companies, which is just another prove of his popularity.

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Petrin Hill

Sep 17, 22:28 (Filed under: Prague sightseeing )

Rose Garden on Petrin Hill If you are in Prague, Petrin Hill is definitelly a place which is worth visiting. This hill, which is located in the very centre of Prague, is really popular among both Prague citizens and visitors. Not only because it is a big green area, a piece of calming nature in the bustling city, which would be enought to make it a popular place, but it has even more to offer.

Petrin has 327 metres of height. The name of the hill can be dated back to the 12th century, when Czech chronicler Kosmas wrote about it in his chronicles as about rocky place. Since he wrote it in Latin, and Latin word for rock is “petra”, Czechs started to use the modification Petrin to name the hill aftewards.

Petrin is among Czechs also known as a place for lovers. It is hard to say why exactly, but Prague lovers do not ask why, just go there for romantic walks or dates. There is even a sculpture of Karel Hynech Mácha, a kind of lover´s patron. He was a famous Czech poet, his dramatic love poem Máj (May) is probably the best know Czech poem ever and almost every Czech knows its first verses by heart.

But of course, Petrin is not a place only for couples in love, it´s trees, areas of grass or flowers planted here can please everyone. And as I said already, there are also other attractions.

Very famous is Petrin Observatory Tower, one of dominants in Prague´s views (from Charles Bridge for example…). It was buitl in 1891 as a 5 times smaller model of Paris Eiffel Tower. If you go up, you can enjoy fantastic view over the city and even further.
Very close to the Tower is situated a Petrin Maize. If you go in, you fill find yourself between mirrors caricaturing your appearence, in one you will look extremely slim, in another too short and so on.

On Petrin Hill, there is also located Stefanik´s astronomical Observatory and old Saint Lawrence Church. And there is even a possibility to refresh oneself in Nebozízek Restaurant. It is just the great place if you want to escape the rush of the city streets for a while.

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The Shooter’s Island (Strelecky ostrov)

Sep 16, 15:21 (Filed under: Outside Prague )

View from Strelecky Island to the National Theatre Last week I’ve visited a concert on the island. It was a Czech band, “Sto zvirat”, a fast-paced, feel-good kind of music, strongly inspired by ska, though there is an influence of the music sung in Czech pubs as well as pop music or big beat. Anyone interested in these should be able to enjoy their shows. The lyrics are in Czech, but, frankly, the lyrics are not the main, nor the strongest part of their music, which relies rather on energetic, well- handled rhythmic play and catchy melodies.

The idea of having a concert on a Prague island (this one being the largest) is a pretty good one. It’s not only large and capable of hosting a large number of visitors, it also offers impressive sights, placing the listener in the middle of the river Vltava, with the city centre almost within the reach of a hand. No wonder it’s popular with actions of this kind: it’s the main body of the annual United Islands of Prague concert series. There’s also a smaller-scale tradition of film shows, supplied by the “Kinematograf of the Čadík Brothers” (this being a translation, not an official name). It usually shows semi-independent and generally more interesting films than the mainstream production offers, the projections being held at night (around ten PM), among the shining sights of the city and its river, covered with reflections of the many lights of the night- time Prague.

The only drawback concerning the concerts is the fact there’s no way of reducing the noise produced during the shows. The result is that these are restricted by the 22:00 deadline, which, of course, does not apply to music clubs.

A quick mention of its history: first mentioned in the 12th century, it changed hands several times until sold to the Old town magistrates in 1472. Its name is inspired by its common use- it served as a shooting range for city guards. It was always a somewhat strategic place, often being a base of resistance to intruders trying to reach the Old Town. Its ceremonial-friendly position became more apparent in the later years.

The island lies halfway between the National theatre and Újezd, connecting these places with the Legion brigde (Most legii). For further information see www.strelak.cz.

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World Press Photo 2007 in Prague

Sep 15, 14:07 (Filed under: Culture )

It all starts in Amstedam in April, and this splendid exhibition then wanders around the world and here it comes again: this year’s winning pictures of World Press Photo contest will drop in Prague on September 14, as usual at Karolinum, strictly speaking Cross Corridor of Karolinum Gallery (the address is Ovocny Trh 3). At the same day, the exhibition starts in Moscow, Zurich, and Valetta, and they all finish on October 7. The tickets in Karolinum cost 90 CZK, students pay 50 CZK

So Prague people and visitors have a chance to see how the world best press photographers work, how they give us the picture news, and what happened throughout the world last year.

World Press Photo of the year 2006 was taken by Spencer Platt and it captures young Lebanese driving through a bombed neighbourhood in Beirut in a red convertible. Twelve of the best photographers were honoured, and the book “The Press Photographer’s Year 2007” was published.

It is worth seeing, but don’t worry if you miss it, two months later, there will be another exhibition from local photographers prepared for you: Czech Press Photo.

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Vinohradske Vinobrani – Grape Harvest Festival

Sep 14, 11:22 (Filed under: Prague events )

Taste young wine in Vinobrani Again this year, and for the eleventh time in a row, Prague district Vinohrady is about to celebrate grape harvesting on Friday September 21. This open air event will take place both at Namesti Miru square and Jiriho z Podebrad, and also at Havlickovy sady.

A market place will be built at Namesti Miru (in front of the Church of St. Ludmila), and wide range of events will be prepared for visitors: stalls will be offering different wine products like burcak (young wine), exhibitions of traditional medieval skills and crafts will be ready as well as several art performances. It all starts at 14:00. In the evening, live concerts are prepared.

It is said that this year the festival will be much different than previous years. Havlickovy Sady, the park around Grebovka, will play a major part as the whole area will host the celebration. For wine lovers, there is a large-scale program prepared, including wine tastings. Namesti Jiriho z Podebrad will also take a significant part in the whole event as it offers various singing, dancing, and swordplay performances.

No matter which place you decide to go to, be prepared to drink vast amounts of burcak there.

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Bodies… The Exhibition

Sep 13, 08:16 (Filed under: Culture )

This exhibition could be called “Bodies… The Controversial Exhibition”. Why controversial? This world famous exhibition, especially in the Czech Republic, has been getting vast publicity, though not always positive opinions. This exhibition was opened on 5th May 2007 in Prague at the Lucerna and lasts till the end of October 2007.

On the official websites of this exhibition you can read that “The Exhibition features real, whole and partial body specimens that have been meticulously dissected and preserved through an innovative process”. You can see yourselves from the inside, your bones, your muscles, your organs…

Some people see the main problem in that there are the real bodies exposed. They say these dead people did not give the permission to expose their bodies after their death. It is violation of their memory. On the other hand, what about mummies? These are exposed as well and no one does not think over the fact if these dead kings and aristocrats gave some permission to exhibit their dead bodies. Everyone will make own opinion if goes and visits this exhibition. Certain is that this exhibition was seen by more than 16 million visitors in Europe and Asia. Prague is the first city of European eastern bloc where the exhibition has been presented.

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1620 - Battle of White Mountain Reconstruction

Sep 12, 11:30 (Filed under: Prague events )

Next weekend, on September 15 and 16, we will remind one event that happened in 1620 on a hillside just outside Prague and that every Czech student has learned in detail, the Battle of White Mountain. This battle actually happened in November, but the tradition is to reconstruct it earlier, probably because it’s warmer now.

So on Saturday, 2 pm, the battle will begin. Whereas in the original battle, up to 50 thousands soldiers fought, this time, around a thousand soldiers and dozens of horse riders and cannons will struggle, all in period costumes, and it should last for an hour (the real battle last only 2 hours). All these will be accompanied with a traditional market, musicians, dancers, performances and shows of live style and training of common soldiers, etc. One can come and try to wear armour, or practice shooting on a target. The event will take place on a flat plain near Obora Hvezda. It is easy to get there by tram (no. 15, 22, or 25) or by bus.

What happened and where? The Battle of White Mountain was an early battle of the Thirty Years’ war where protestant Bohemian Estates’ army was defeated by catholic Hapsburg army, soon afterwards, 27 Prague leaders were executed at the Old Town Square, protestants fled and freedom of religion in Bohemian lands came to an end.

The aim of the reconstruction is to resemble the real event as much as possible. After all, this might be more interesting than seeing a historical war movie in TV.

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National Museum in Prague

Sep 11, 15:41 (Filed under: Culture )

The main building of the National Museum in Prague National museum has more divisions, but its main builing is situated in the very centre of Prague, on the top of Wenceslas Square. You can get there were easily by metro, you just need to get off on the Muzeum Station, which is on the crossing of red and green line.

Museum´s main building holds both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Permanent exhibions are those: Prehistory and protohistory of Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia, Mineralogical and Petrological Collections, Palaeontological Collections, Zoological Collections, Anthropological Exhibition. There is one long term exhibition – Decorations and Medals of European Countries in the 19th and 20th Century. And there are various short term exhibitions, only till 16th of September it is possible to visit a presentation called Madagaskar: The laboratory of Gods, till 14th of October there is an unusual exhibition Bryozoa: Hidden Beauty, which aims to show, through models and macro photographs, beauty of those recondite animals, and finally, till the end of September you can visit Black and White ‘60s: Legends of the Czech Sport Photography.

National Museum in Prague has pretty extensive collection and can offer something interesting for everyone, which makes it an ideal place where to go with the whole family. Through Antropological Collections you can get to know a lot about a daily life of the Czechs in passed times. If you are more into natural science you can get amazed by a huge sceleton of a whale and others exhibits of such kind.

Opening hours are as follows: from May till September is opened daily from 10:00 to 18:00, from October till April also daily, from 9:00 till 17:00. Because of the fact that museum is extensive, it is always better to reserve more time for its visit. Entrance fee is 120 CZK full price and 70 CZK reduced (for seniors, students and children over 6 years), children younger 6 years can visit it for free, family ticket costs 150 CZK. Every first Monday in a month is a free entry for everyone.

I should also mantion that every first Tuesday in a month, museum is closed, in September it will be closed on 17th and 18th.

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Cubism in Prague

Sep 10, 21:20 (Filed under: Culture )

House of the Black Madonna Cubism emerged as an important artistic movement in painting and sculpture in the beginning of 20th century. Pablo Picaso made his The Young Ladies of Avignon, regarded as the first cubistic painting in 1907. The movement quickly spread throught Europe, but only in Prague became so much influential, that was reflected even in the architecture.

The story of Czech Cubism is easy to be dicovered if you visit the Musem of Czech Cubism, a part of the National Gallery, which is situated in the House at the Black Madona, Ovocný trh Street, nr. 19 (close to Mustek Metro Station). The building itself is built in the cubistic style. Sharp edges and dynamical diagonales were used by the architect Josef Gocar to design such a unique building. It was built in 1911-1912, to be used as a department store.

Now, a wide-range collection of cubistic artefacts made by Czech autohors is held. There are not only paintings (by Emil Filla, Bohumil Kubišta, Antonin Prochazka) and sculptures (the most noble author is Otto Gutfreund), but also pieces of furniture or ceramics in cubistic design (Pavel Janak, Josef Gocar, Vlastislav Hofman) and even architectonic designs for different buildings. There is also situated stylish Grand Café Orient.

The most famous building in the cubistic style is the already mentioned House at the Black Madona, but it is not the only one. There were even plans to made a whole housing estate in Prague Vysehrad, which was not fully realized, but there are few buildings. Or also so called “Dum Diamant” (House Diamond) could be noticed, made by Emil Kralicek and situated in Spalena Street, this house is also striking example how cubism was applied to architecture.

Promising development of this style in former Czechoslovakia was disturbed by the break out of the First World War. But after it´s end, cubism was again remembered, now in so called “National Style”, full of colouful circles and arcs. The famous example of this style is the bank in Na Porici Street by Josef Gocar.

Cubism had a really strong influence on Czech Arts, and local architecture in this style is something really specific which would be a pitty to miss out, if you are at least a bit into architecture.

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Oriental visitors to Prague

Sep 9, 22:06 (Filed under: Foreign influence in Prague )

Contacts with Persia (now Iran) were strengthened during the reign of Rudolf II (1575- 1611 king of Bohemia). He saw, just as other European rulers did at the time, great danger in the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) and any anti- Ottoman coalition was useful. The first Persian envoys arrived to Prague in 1597, so that they’d make preparations for the arrival of their shah, which took place three years later. They were welcomed in the “Star mansion” (Letohradek hvezda, the Na Vypichu district), a quite special building with symbolic features referring to astronomy, and accommodated in the Lesser Town. One of the leaders of the small delegation was Anthony Sherley, a British catholic in Persian diplomatic services. While present in Prague, he paid a visit to the Jesuits in Klementinum. The Jesuits were, by the way the order, which sent priests to the Orient (to China, for example), taking over much of the agenda the Franciscans were taking care of previously.

Czech- Turkish contacts were mainly supplied by Ottoman captives, but there were also cases of Europeans in Ottoman service and otherwise. After Rudolf’s unsuccessful attempt to win a war with the Turks, the international relations sort of normalized. In 1620 Prague hosted a Turkish delegate. The European strategy towards the expansive giant was based on economy rather than force from then on.

First coffee

Less internationally grave a matter, but significant for the Czech lifestyle was the emergence of the coffee drinking habit. Brought to Europe, it is said, in 1683, as part of the Turkish armies’ resources left behind after attempted conquest of Vienna, the substance was brought to Prague in 1705 by Georgios Deodatus el Damascus. At first he sold to pedestrians on the streets, later establishing the first Prague café in 1708. He was forced to change its site of residence a couple of times, operating in the Celetna street, in Lesser Town and ending up in the Charles’s street in the Old Town. He was increasingly popular with the citizens and very friendly towards the court, holding a pompous celebration after the birth of Charles VI son Leopold.

Jewels

Tight were the links with India, at least according to Panikkar, an Indian politician and historian. In the 1950s he was a guest in Prague and when examining the Crown of Saint Wenceslas, he discovered similarities with the oriental art in the placement of the precious stones. He claimed that many other medieval works show a connection between the two countries.

Other guests

Nehrú, the first Indian president, visited Prague on several occasions. During his first visit in 1938, he expressed strong depiction of the Munchen agreement and the western powers’ role in it. There were more visits in the following years and a close relationship was established.

The last mention goes to the Japanese historian R. H. Takahashi, who spent time in Prague in the 1950s. Comparing it to other European capitals, he emphasised the uniqueness of its character. Especially in comparison with US cities, which in his eyes lacked character, he stressed the importance of protecting the Old Town, the Lesser Town and Hradshin (Hradcany- the castle district) from intrusion of contemporary architectonic trends.

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Charles Bridge is being repaired

Sep 8, 13:10 (Filed under: Prague sightseeing )

Charles Bridge from the Vltava River Charles Bridge is propably the most popular attraction among Prague visitors. And this famous historical monument, which lately celebrated 650 years of it´s existance, is now about to be reconstucted. The reconstruction is planed to be extensive and should take a long time. But don´t worry, the bridge wont be fully closed because of it, they will do it part by part. And the fact, that people will be able to watch workers at their work is even supposed to be a kind of matter of interest for the vistitors.

First works on the bridge already started at the second half of August. In the beginning, works are focused on reparation of sewer system, then the bridge deck. Later the rail should be also repaired, and old-fashioned and romantic gas lightening should be lead in.

The repairs were prepared a long time in advance. They should cost about 220 millions Czech krowns and will be observed also by archeologists and conservationist, to make sure, that historical value of this wonderful bridge won’t be demaged anyhow. This repairs will be done always only from March till November, not in the winter, and according to the plan it should be finished by the end of June 2010. Let’s hope that it will go well and make the bridge even more beautiful.

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