Compact archive July 31, 2006

Prague's architectonic landmarks in need of restoration

Prague is world-famous for its beautiful architecture. Nevertheless, or maybe mainly because of the large number of cultural landmarks, some of them need renovation urgently. More than fifty valuable buildings necessitate financial resources to improve their poor state. Should the restoration of all the objects take place simultaneously, a sum reaching almost three billion crowns would be necessary.

The endangered landmarks include among others precious houses or parts of town’s crumbling walls. One of the threatened ones, Salmovsky Palace, is to be found opposite to the entrance into Prague Castle in one of the most glamorous squares of Prague – Hradcanske Square. Luckily, the renovation of this Classicist building, which will be turned into an art gallery at a cost of quarter of a billion crowns, will start next year.

The cause of the disturbing situation lies in the ownership of the objects. Either the owners are simply not aware of how precious their possessions are, or in the case there are more owners, it proves difficult or even impossible to arrive at an agreement how to save the landmark. Another reason may be speculation – the buildings are intentionally left to fall into disrepair so that they can be then rebuilt. Fortunately, this scenario seems to be only very rare.


Another open-air cinema in Prague

“Summer in the town” project will have in August a part that will certainly be appreciated by all movie-goers. Namesti Miru in Vinohrady quarter will turn three times into an open-air cinema.

On three August Wednesdays (concretely 16, 23 and 30) the square will turn into a cinema offering very interesting films. The first film will be Stesti (Happiness) followed by Divoke Vcely (Wild Bees) and for the last evening the organisers planned Fahrenheit 9/11.

Given the lovely architecture of the buildings surrounding the square such as the Vinohrady Theatre or the dominant brick Neo-Gothic Church of St Ludmila in conjunction with the interesting programme, the open-air cinema does certainly need not fear a lack of interest.

In the case you would like to have a pleasant break in the middle of the week, it must be added that all of the films start at half past eight and the entrance is free.


CzechTek almost over

The estimates of the number of people coming to Hradiste in Doupovske mountains for Czechtek 2006 were confirmed – altogether there were around forty thousand techno fans there. CzechTek thus became one of the biggest events of its kind in the whole Czech Republic. The participants travelled also from the neighbouring Austria, Germany and Slovakia as well as from further away – for example England or Italy.

During Sunday but mainly in the evening and throughout the night almost two thirds of all of the participants left. Practically half of the sound systems is gone as well. Nevertheless, the area is rented for one more week. Therefore, the party still continues for some.

Some of the interviewed people complained that the festival loses its atmosphere. Certainly without the secrecy about its location till the very last minute the festival is accessible in a much easier way. Therefore, some commented that some of the dancers would not have come, had CzechTek not been officially pre-announced. There were also observations that the festival attracted much more young people.

This year’s CzechTek will be remembered for its smoothness. Nonetheless, the doctors were rather busy treating almost two hundred injuries. The most serious seems to be the claim of a 17-year-old girl who fears someone might have abused her while she was asleep.


Opera The Bartered Bride (Prodana Nevesta) in an open-air theatre

Divoka Sarka valley (free translation: Wild Sarka) was the location of the famous open-air theatre from the beginning of the last century. The tradition will be revived on Sunday 3 September, when the visitors will have the opportunity to listen to the soloists from the National Theatre performing their interpretation of one of the most famous operas by Smetana – The Bartered Bride.

The out-door theatre opened one year before the First World War and offered a possibility to combine a trip to a lovely nature park with an unforgettable cultural experience till the year 1922. It was very popular and offered varied programme including theatre performances as well as operas. Ten thousand viewers could take a seat and further eight thousand could watch the performances whilst standing.

This year’s performance of the Bartered Bride is not the first one since the tradition, aiming to bring life to the formerly unique area, started last summer. Nevertheless, this one was said to be very likely the last one. Therefore, the opportunity for all those who love opera or want to experience something unusual should not be missed.


The beauty of the Czech Language and Culture

Around two hundred students from forty different countries including Japan, China or The United States came to Prague to study the Czech language and culture. The jubilee fiftieth Summer School of Slavonic Studies organized by the Charles University will also include the fifth symposium about the Czech language.

The participants were divided into different groups given the level they are at. The beginners could choose the language they want to be taught in – for example English, French, German or another Slavonic Language. This suggests that there are both beginners, who are just starting with the Czech language, but also advanced students desiring to deepen their knowledge. The teaching staff consist of professors and will also include specialists from the Czech Academy of Science.

The motivation of the participants differs – some of them are children of emigrants or simply people with Czech roots who do not want to loose their cultural heritage. Apart from the language courses, lectures and seminars of choice, there will also be very entertaining cultural programme such as evenings with music and films or trips to different parts of the Czech Republic. The focus of the summer school is not only language but also literature, history and other aspects of culture.

Prague Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses

Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses took place at Strahov stadium this weekend. There were altogether twenty thousand believers, who travelled to Prague from all over the world – there were reportedly eight thousand English-speaking members. Others came from Estonia, Croatia or for example Greece.

The programme of the convention included baptisms of approximately 150 new members – majority of whom were female. The baptisms took place in two pools since the whole body must plunge into water. There were also a lecture and a theatre performance.

An intense campaign took place prior to the convention during which the members tried to invite as many people as possible. This infamous missionary door-to-door work became associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses. With over six million followers worldwide they are often considered to be a sect.

One of the criticisms is that the organisation cuts the social links of the members with the outside world – the so called separation. Their infamous customs include refusal to take a blood transfusion under all circumstances. They also cannot own or even salute to national flag or to stand for national anthem. Jehovah’s Witnesses also do not celebrate birthday or holy days such as Easter or Christmas.

New hall for Prague Exhibition Grounds

Incheba Prague will invest more than half a billion Czech crowns into the Exhibition Grounds till the end of the next year. The investment will be directed into the construction of a new exhibition hall with more than fifteen thousand square metres for presentation and exhibition purposes.

The works were supposed to be finished already by the end of this year but the company still lacks some of the needed documents to start the project. The building works thus had to be postponed. The hall will also require complementary infrastructure such as roads.

The current appearance of the grounds will be affected not only by the new hall itself. For example, the area around the famous Krizik Singing Fountain will also be altered.