Compact archive December 2006

New Year´s Eve at the Old Town Square

The Old Town Square in the center of Prague offers a program for both adults and children on New Year´s Eve. The program for children starts at 5 pm, then the celebration for adults will follow at 7 pm.

Children can see a magician´s performance there and learn how to conjure. Also a fakir will perform there and children can compete in singing.

The program for children will be replaced by a concert of various Czech bands in the evening. Humorous performances will be part of the show. Visitors can buy mull, punch or traditional champagne to drink while listening to the music.

Entry is free. Visitors are asked not to bring any pyrotechnics or drinks in glass to the square.

Dramatic incident on Prague airport

Czech police was afraid, that it could be a terrorist attack: a Russian airplane had to make a forced landing on Prague airport Ruzyne because of a man, who threatened with hijacking the plane.

The incident happened yesterday around quarter past 10 am. A passenger of a plane flying from Moscow to Geneva came to the pilot´s cockpit and threatened, that he will blast a bomb. He seemed to be drunk. He demanded that the plane has to fly to Egypt.

The pilot with a help from other passengers managed to pacify and bind the man. The plane landed immediately on the nearest airport, which was Prague Ruzyne. A counter-terrorism commando and two fighter planes arrived quickly at the airport to check the situation. It was found out, that it was really “just” a drunken passenger and not a serious attempt to hijack a plane.

It is not clear, if the man will be committed to Czech or Russian authorities. He was accused of threatening safety of a plane and he may be imprisoned for 15 years.

A new shopping centre in Prague-Vysocany

Prague quarter Vysocany is not a very nice place for living at the present time. All that people see from their windows is a huge sports arena Sazka, a parking lot and desolate surroundings. All this should change in coming years. New commercial and administrative buildings, entertaining centre and a park will be built there. The whole area will be called the “Green Island”.

The first building, a parking house, will be built in 2007. The existing parking lot will be then overbuilt by the shopping and entertaining centre. Also a hotel and a sport centre are planned there. There could be possibly an ice rink or a venue for cultural events.

At the present time, the inhabitants of the area have no proper place to go shopping, they have to go to the far centre in Cerny Most. A park should be built around the new houses, so the name Green Island will hopefully be fitting.

Theme:

Better tram service in Prague in 2007

The public transport by trams in Prague will be improved in the coming year. New trams will be bought, some more will be modernized. A new tram line, leading to undergroung station Radlicka, will be built.

There are already 10 low-floor trams in service in Prague. At least 20 new low-floor trams Skoda, designed by Porsche, will be bought and 6 trams will be modernized. These changes will cost 1.27 billion CZK. Also underground trains, going on the B line, will be modernized.

The trams in Radlice, which terminate in the Laurova stop at the present time, will be extended to the underground station Radlicka.

Another pleasant change is that there will be conductors in some night trams since the second half of January. They are supposed to ensure the safety of passengers.

The Stefanikuv most (bridge) in the center of Prague will be repaired and therefore it will be closed for eight months. It will affect the transport in the area – trams will not be in service there at the time.

Theme:

Charles Bridge will be restored at last

The restoration of Charles Bridge, one of the most important historical monuments in Prague, will start in spring 2007. The bridge needs a repair for forty years already and it has been planned for a long time.

The restoration will have two phases: the stone parapet will be reinforced, the bridge will get a new paving and the isolation of the whole bridge will be improved in the first phase. It should take about a year. The second phase, renewal of the whole Charles Bridge, will follow and it will last for about 10 years.

Visitors of this historical monument needn´t be afraid: the bridge will stay open to public and only one tenth of it will be repaired at the same time.

Gas lamps will be given back to the Charles Bridge and most importantly, the bridge will be saved from the water, which runs inside because of bad isolation.

Theme:

Safer pedestrian crossings in Prague

An original system how to protect pedestrians from irresponsible drivers was installed in Prague 13. When some car will approach a pedestrian crossing near the school or near a bus stop too fast, the traffic sign will start to twinkle intensely to warn the driver.

Safer pedestrian crossings are already in Prague quarter 6: there are special large coloured surfaces on the roads in front of the crossings, where most accidents happened in the past. The coloured surface is rough and it enables the drivers to stop the car more easily. It is 20 metres large and it can be seen for example in Sarecka street or Ankarska street.

There are also special lights reacting to movement of pedestrians on several crossings. These lights start to twinkle when a person is crossing the road.

Nevertheless, the best solution for safer pedestrians in Prague would be more traffic lights in the city. It is planned to install 200 new traffic lights in 10 coming years.

Theme:

Last chance to see a multimedia exposition

An interesting art happening takes place in the River Town Prague area: an international workshop of contemporary interdisciplinary art. There is a variable multimedia exposition with participation of artists from various countries.

You can see theater performances there, interactive works, hear music and much more. There are videos, extraordinary pictures and paintings on the walls, all conceived as a living artistic organism.

The symposium takes place in the hall No.40, River Town Prague (Holesovicka trznice), Bubenske nabrezi (quay). It is open to visitors from Monday to Thursday between 11 am and 8 pm and from Friday to Saturday between 6 pm and 1 am. It is open till the 1st January 2007.

Theme:

Prague music clubs on New Year´s Eve

Do you already have a plan, where to go on New Year´s Eve? What about a celebration in some of the best Prague music clubs? Here is a selection of program on New Year´s Eve for your inspiration…

Roxy (Dlouha street 33) – “Return of the King”: probably the best music club in Prague offers dance music with some of the most popular Czech DJs.

Palac Akropolis (Kubelikova street 27) – “Festa Da Madrugada”: the cult club in Zizkov quarter will celebrate in latin, funk, reggae rhythms.

Mecca (U Pruhonu street 3) – British DJ Lee Dagger will play house music in this club

If you are into dance music, you can also visit Radost FX club(Belehradska 234), or Karlovy Lazne club (Smetanovo nabrezi 198). Rock music will be played in Vagon (Narodni 25). You can expect reggae music in Matrix (Konevova 13).

Transport changes in Prague on New Year´s Eve

Several important roads in Prague will be closed for transport on New Year´s Eve and also during the fireworks on New Year´s Day, 1st January 2007.

The closure of Prague roads on 31st December will be the same as last year. There will be no transport permitted in the streets Parizska (from the Siroka street to the Old Town Square), Jachymova, Mostecka, Josefska, Ve Smeckach, Vodickova, Stepanska, the slip-road from the trunk road to the Wenceslas Square, and a part of the Jindrisska street in direction to the Wenceslas Square.

During the fireworks on the New Year´s Day, the Letna Gardens will be closed from 10 am to the next morning. The quay road between the Stefanikuv most (bridge) and Klarov will be closed just for half an hour, from 5:50 to 6:20 pm, as well as the Dvorak Quay between the bridge and Jan Palach Square. There will be no tram service between Narodni divadlo and Cechuv most and between Staromestska and the crossing by the Stefanikuv most between 5:30 and 6:30 pm.

Theme:

Cheaper shopping in Prague

Big sales of winter goods started in Prague just after Christmas. Winter clothes, shoes, sporting goods and electronics are up to 50% cheaper now and it will be up to 70% later. These sales will continue at least till the end of January.

For example stores such as Tesco or Electro World offer big sales at the moment. There will be more and more discounted goods later and the reduction in price will be higher. Furniture will be on sale around the end of the year.

There were problems with the lack of the announced discounted goods last year. That´s why the stores are now obliged to announce the beginning and the end of the sales and also to specify the quantity of the discounted goods, if there is not enough of it in stock.

Living Nativity Scene at the Prague Castle

A charitable performance called “Living Nativity Scene” took place by the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle few days ago. You can see it there once again on 6th January 2007. The profit of the event will go to the foundation “Help the children”.

The show is performed by students of dramatic art. It is inspired by biblical stories and there are scenes from old Czech folk-plays. Also Christmas carols, those well-known and also some less-known ones, are performed there.

Joseph and Maria, the three Magi, angels and the devil play a role in the performance. Only Infant Jesus is replaced by a doll. The Living Nativity Scene takes place there for a fourth time already and it caught attention of Prague Castle visitors and tourists.

Theme:

Fireworks on New Year´s Day in Prague

The traditional New Years´s Day fireworks will be fired from the Letna Gardens this year. It promises to be a spectacular show with almost 7 000 flares, lasting 15 minutes.

It will be a colourful performance of 20 “pictures”, including traditional flower motifs, large geometric effects and a big finale. It will be possible to watch the fireworks from the quays of the river Vltava, from bridges and all the high places in Prague. The ideal place for watching it is the Cechuv most (bridge) and the quay around it.

These fireworks will take place on 1st January at 6 pm. It will be soon after dark, so it is possible to enjoy it even if you are a family with children.

Fireworks on the New Year´s Eve at midnight will take place at the Wenceslas Square.

Cuban music in Roxy Club tonight

Do you fancy spending a night dancing to Cuban rhythms? There is a party of Cuban music, called Fiesta Latina, in Roxy Club tonight!

The music group “SANTY y su Son de Cuba” will certainly draw you into dancing. Their music combines several styles, such as salsa, merengue, guanguanco, afro and others.

You can also see an afro-latin dancing performance there, as well as a thematic film projection, and enjoy Cuban drinks.

The party starts tonight at 7:30 pm and the entrance fee is 100 CZK. The Roxy Club is situated in Dlouha Street 33, Prague 1. You can go there on foot from the Old Town Square, or from the nearest underground station Namesti Republiky.

Theme:

Prague - a popular Christmas destination

Prague is one of the five most visited places in the European Union during Christmas. There are about 50 – 60 000 tourists in the city these days. They enjoy especially the Christmas markets. About two thirds of the tourists are from the countries of the EU.

While Prague citizens were in a hurry to buy some Christmas presents when they can, tourists came to the city to relax and that´s why they mostly enjoyed the Christmas events in Prague more.

The Christmas market in the Old Town Square was full of tourists, who chose Christmas goods there and watched the killing of carps with surprise: many of them didn´t know, that it is a Czech tradition, to have a carp to dinner on Christmas Eve.

The traditional Czech Christmas Mass by J. J. Ryba was performed at the Old Town Square and people listened, drinking mull – the hot spiced wine.

About 70% hotel rooms in Prague were full during Christmas and it will be even more on New Year´s Eve – there will be no vacancy left in the city.

Theme:

Czech Cubist architecture exhibition

You have a chance to visit an exhibition of extraordinary Czech artistic phenomenon these days: the exhibition of Czech architectural Cubism in the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Prague.

Prague was a second European centre of Cubism after Paris, since 1909. Czech artists, inspired by the Parisian Cubists, developed this style in architecture and design, and it evolved in the unique Czech architectural Cubism.

The exhibition focuses on the most important period between 1911 and 1914 and it introduces the outstanding personalities such as Pavel Janak, Josef Gocar, Vlastislav Hofman, Josef Chochol and Emil Kralicek. The exhibition shows Cubist buildings realized in Prague and also in several other Czech cities. You can see Cubist design there and also some projects, that were not realized.

The exhibition lasts till 11th February 2007. You can find the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery in Betlemske Namesti (square) 5a, Prague 1.

Theme:

Open clubs during Christmas

For those who want do not want to spend Christmas Eve in the warmth of their home (or a hotel), we bring some tips for Prague’s clubs open on that day.

Rock Cafe in Narodni trida (Narodni 20) is open on 24th December from 23:00 to 5:00. The entrance is free. You can dance to music by Veselej DJ. Palace Akropolis (Kubelikova 27)organizes show call “X-massive: Santa Klaus leave da house!”. The show starts at 22:30. Vagon Club (Narodni trida 25) plays from 23:00, entrance fee is 100,- CZK.

Smaller Akord Club (V Celnici 4) offers Christmas band. Jazz you can hear in U stare pani Club (Michalska 9). You can also visit Punto Azul music club (Kroftova 1) in Prague-Smichov or Cross Club (Plynarni 23) in Prague-Holesovice.

Theme:

Conductors on night trams in Prague

As we have already informed, the travelling by night trams in Prague should be safer next year thanks to the presence of conductors on board. The Prague Public Transit Company announced that the conductors will appear on the trams for the first time between 10th and 15th January 2007.

The conductors will be Prague police officers, sometimes together with ticket inspectors. They will be not in every tram, but only in selected lines. They will be responsible for the safety of passengers and absence of homeless people sleeping on the trams.

In the future the Prague Public Transit Company wants the police officers to give fines to people without a valid ticket. Nowadays only ticket inspectors can do it.

Theme:

New software development centres in the Czech Republic

American technology company Quadbase Systems from Silicon Valley will build a branch in the Czech Republic. The workers in the branch will develop internet applications Java. The Czech Republic is sought for its talents in software developments and good technological infrastructure. American companies cover 60% of investments to research and development in the Czech Republic.

International companies opened more than 40 technological, development and distribution centres in the Czech Republic. E.g., branch of American Sun Microsystems Company was opened in Prague this year.

The world’s biggest software company, Microsoft, decided to open European business support center for mobile technologies in the Czech Republic. The centre will provide services to leading European mobile phone providers and manufacturers of mobile equipment.

Also Prague has a good change to win the seat of the navigation system Galileo. According to Tomas Hruda from CzechInvest, the Czech Republic has many experts in space and satellite technologies. Also the favourable geographic position of Prague in the centre of Europe and good infrastructure make it a good candidate.

What to do in Prague during winter holidays

If you are going to spend the coming holidays in Prague, there are many things what to do in the Czech capital. On 24th December you can taste Czech traditional fish soup on Old Town Square or visit St. Vitus Cathedral whose entrance is for free from 12:00 to 16:00 (you can get the Bethlehem light there). At midnight you can attend a Christmas service there.

On 25th and 26th December families with children can visit Prague Castle for free. The Royal Garden is exceptionally open from 25th December from 9:00 to 17:00. If you like ice skating, you can go to Ovocny trh every day from 10:00 to 21:30.

On New Year’s Eve you can go to Wenceslas square to enjoy the New Year’s Eve party of Czech commercial TV Nova. The show is for everybody for free. The coming of the new year will be celebrated by a firework above Wenceslas Square. If you want to join the celebration in Prague, better keep your car out of the city centre. Some streets will be closed.

Theme:

President rejected proposed government

Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolanek, went to Prague Castle yesterday to give President Vaclav Klaus a list with the names of the new ministers in the three party cabinet (Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and Greens). President has rejected to appoint the new government so far.

According to Vaclav Klaus this government would not have broader support in the lower house and it should not win the confidence vote just because of a few opposition members. According to Prime Minister this government is the only solution out of the political crises.

Institutional experts now debate whether Klaus’s rejection of the proposed government is against the law or not. Vladimir Balas from The University of West Bohemia thinks that President can express his reservations but he cannot reject the proposed government.

Irish evening in Prague

All the fans of Irish dance music are invited to celebrate 10 years of Irish music in the Czech Republic. The celebration takes place in Prague’s T-mobile arena on 25th April 2007 from 19:00. Visitors can look forward to performances of Czech groups Shannon, Rinceoiri and Coisceim. The star of the evening will be Irish group Altan.

Altan belongs now to the most prestigious group of traditional Irish dance music. Their latest 10th album commemorates the 20 years from the foundation of this popular group. Their characteristic style has many admirers around the world.

During the evening you can taste traditional Irish drink and learn some steps of Iris dances. Tickets for the Irish evening in T-mobile arena (Za elekrarnou 419 street) can be bought through Ticketpro for 490 CZK. If you buy the ticket before 31st December, you can save 100 CZK.

Theme:

Changes at Tesco store?

Everybody who wants to buy presents for Christmas has to wait in long queues before the cash desks now. The department store Tesco which has many shops in Prague (e.g. in Narodni street), is developing now a new system of the cash desk – without the cashiers.

Instead of the cashier the customer will be welcomed by automates that will charge the goods thanks to the barcodes. Customers will be able to pay cash or by credit card.

The system should discourage people from not paying for the goods. Each cash desk will contain information about the exact weight of every product. The system will check whether the weight of the goods in the basket correspond to the weight of the goods already paid by the customer.

Theme:

Modernization of Prague's trams

The Prague Public Transit Company (Dopravni podnik mesta Prahy) announced that there will be 20 more low-floor trams in 2007. By 2009 there will be 60 more of these trams.

The average age of Prague’s trams is 16 years, which is too much. That is why the Prague Public Transit Company want to buy 10 new trams and to modernize 50 trams next year. The total costs will be 1,3 billion CZK. Every year they want to modernized 60 trams in Prague.

In 2006 there are 972 trams in Prague running in 26 day lines and 9 night lines. The Prague Public Transit Company employs 1360 drivers and have transported 49,5 million people. The average speed of trams is 19 km/h. There was 1513 tram accidents in the year 2005, 440 of which were caused by the Prague Public Transit Company.

Theme:

Bethlehem light in Prague

The light of friendship that is lit in the place of Jesus Christ’s birth, travels every year from Israel to Linz from where it is distributed to 25 countries of the world as well as to some institutions, such as the European Parliament or the UN.

The Bethlehem light is taken by the Scouts to several towns in the Czech Republic. Tomorrow at 13:00 it will be given to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. At 17:00 it will be given to the hands of Prague’s Lord Mayer Pavel Bem in Old Town Square. He will spread the flame among people in Prague.

On Christmas Eve at noon the Lord Mayer of Prague together with the town councillors will serve traditional Christmas fish soup on Old Town Square.

Theme:

New Year's celebrations

On New Year’s Eve the street of Prague are crowded by people of all nationalities celebrating the coming of the New Year. Prague’s rescuers are going to take their rescue truck, often used for mass accidents, to Wenceslas Square. It will stand near Stepanska street.

Ambulances will be visible in many parts of the city, especially in the centre. Normally rescuers go to 250 cases during 24 hours, on New Year’s Eve they have to treat the same number of people during 5 hours around midnight.

Fireworks on the New Year’s Eve in Prague will be above Wenceslas Square, on 1st January 2007 at 18:00 above Letenske sady. You can get there e.g. by trams 12 and 17 (stop Cechuv most).

Prague sights during the holidays - Part 1

Here is a list of the most visited monuments in Prague and their opening times during the holidays:

  • Prague Castle is closed on 24th December. On 25th and 26th families can visit the Castle for free. From 25th December to 7th January all objects at Prague Castle are open from 9:00 to 18:00.
  • Petrin Observation Tower and the Maze are open from 23th December to 1st January every day from 10:00 to 17:00. Only on 24th December and 31st December it is open from 10:00 to 15:00.
  • Old Town Hall can be visited from 15th to 31st December every day from 9:00 to 18:00 (Monday only from 11:00). On 24th December from 9:00 to 14:00 and on 31st December from 9:00 to 16:00.

Prague sights during the holidays - Part 2

If you want to visit the most visited museums and churches in Prague, check this list for opening times during the holidays:

  • National Museum in Prague is closed on 24th December. On 25th December it is open from 11:00 to 17:00, on 26th from 9:00 to 17:00, on 31st from 10:00 to 16:00. Other day see regular opening hours. On 1st January the museum is open for free from 11:00 to 15:00.
  • Prague City Museum is closed on 24th and 25th December, as well as on 31st December and 1st January.
  • The only changes at Vysehrad are in the opening hours on 24th and 31st December – it is open from 9:30 to 13:00.
  • St. Nicholas Cathedral is closed on 24th December. On 31st December it is open from 9:00 to 14:00. Other days see regular opening hours.
  • Loreta is open during holidays: on 24th December from 9:00 to 12:15, on 25th from 13:00 to 16:30, on 26th from 9:00 to 12:15 and 13:00 to 16:30, on 31st from 9:00 to 12:15 and on 1st January 13:00 to 16:30. (see Part 1)

Ship for homeless people in February

A ship with at least 250 homeless people on board will be visible soon on the Vltava river. The city will get the ship at the end of January 2007. The ship will be maintained by workes of humanitarian institutions. The annual service costs will be 8,5 million CZK.

The project is run for people from Prague only. All Prague homeless people will be provided by chip cards that will enable them to enter the ship. For one night on this ship they will have to pay the most 100 CZK.

“In case the homeless people want to cooperate and work seasonally, they can use more services on the ship,” said the councilman Jiri Janecek. Even though the ship provides 250 beds, there are about 5000 homeless people in Prague.

Exhibition of torture and prison services at Prague Castle

The exhibition of torture and prison services started yesterday in the tower Daliborka at Prague Castle. The exhibition will introduce torture techniques and prison services in Prague Castle from medieval times to the last quarter of the 18th century.

Visitors of the exhibition will learn about the history of the tower, about the living conditions of prisoners and about interesting people being kept in the tower. The exhibition also displays replicas of torture instruments used by jailers and executioners.

The entrance to the exhibition is included in visit tours A, B, C. From 1st January the entrance to the tower will be included in both the big and the small tours.

Theme:

Prague before Christmas: pickpockets' paradise

The time before Christmas is the “golden time” for shops but also for pickpockets. People trying to get some Christmas presents are not so alert to their belongings and they become easily the victims of pickpockets.

Half of the crimes of pickpocketing takes place in Prague. According to the police, the pickpockets also come to Prague from other states before Christmas and then they continue to Paris, Rome or other cities. The only way how to get pickpockets into prison is to catch them in the act. It is not so easy before they usually work as a organized gang of five or six people and they inform each other about police officers.

The police warn against pickpockets in public transports (especially tram no. 22 running in the centre) and at the stations and tram stops. People should be also pay attention to their belongings in large shopping centres. In case they become the victims of pickpockets they should immediately inform the police.

Sean Lennon's concert in Prague

The son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, will perform in Prague soon. Sean Lennon is now on his tour through the USA and Europe after he released his second album called Friendly Fire.

On this album Sean Lennon worked with some other children of famous people – Harper Simon, the son of Paul Simon or Bijou Phillips, the daughter of John Phillips from The Mamas and Papas. Sean Lennon started very early, he recited on his mother’s album Season of Glass in 1981 or contributed to the song It’s Alright on the album Every Man Has a Woman when he was nine.

The concert of Sean Lennon in Prague takes place in Lucerna Music Bar (Vodickova 36) on 5th February 2007. Lucerna’s booking office is open every weekday from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00.

Theme:

Fight against the overcharged taxi services

A sad incident happened at the end of the last week when a foreign tourist refused to continue the journey in a taxi after she had seen on the taxi-meter that she had to pay 128 CZK for 300 meters. The taxi driver was rude to her and demanded the money.

Accidentally, the Deputy of Lord Mayer passed by. She backed the tourist up. According to her, the taxi driver breaks the edict that says that the maximum rate is 25 CZK/per kilometer. Drivers that overcharge, sometimes even several times, are fined by the municipal authorities. However, the drivers lodge an appeal and the cases last long. The warning against bad behaviour and high prices of Prague taxi drivers is even in foreign tourist guidebooks.

The municipal authorities want to change the road law so that taxi drivers can be punished easily. Also in Old Town Square taxi drivers with the rate of only 28 CZK per kilometer will stand from 1st January. They should be a good competition to the overcharged taxi drivers.

Theme:

Name a tree in Stromovka park in Prague

If you like walking in Prague’s park, one of the places you can go is Stromovka – Royal deer park. It is situated near Prague’s Exhibition Ground (Vystaviste) and Prague’s planetarium.

At the entrances to Stromovka you can see now a wooden figure that is about 2 meters high. It is one of the artefacts made by artist Kurt Gebauer. On the figures you may notice a practical map of Stromovka showing the routes of the park.

In this “tree park” (as Stromovka is called in Czech) you can also buy one of the trees, that has been planted lately, for 10 000 CZK. After bying the tree, you can place a note with your name on it.

Charles Bridge Museum

Charles Bridge, one of the most significant monument in Prague, will have its museum. The exposition will be very near Charles Bridge, in the monastery of the Knights of the Cross, and will be probably open in June next year.

Visitors of this exposition can learn more about Charles Bridge, its construction, changes during centuries and sculpture works there. Visitors can also learn more about the predecessor of Charles Bridge – Judith’s Bridge. The creator of the museum has already launched the web pages of the museum at www.muzeumkarlovamostu.cz (only in Czech).

Charles Bridge was founded by the emperor Charles IV. on 9th July 1357. It was called Prague Bridge or Stone Bridge, since 1870 the bridge has been called Charles Bridge.

Theme:

Tenor singer Rolando Villazon back in Prague

The world’s most desirable tenor singer Ronaldo Villazon is coming back to Prague after his great success here last time. Villazon will perform together with Prague Philharmonic conducted by Italian conductor Daniele Callegari in Smetana’s Hall of Prague’s Municipal House on 27th February 2007.

He is considered by the world’s press as the biggest star on the current opera scene. In Prague he will sing arias from operas by Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Tchaikovsky, Massenet and Gounod. He will add also Spanish and Latin American songs.

Tickets are on sale in Prague’s Municipal House (nam. Republiky 5) or through Ticketpro from 4995,- CZK to 395,- CZK. Tickets from the cancelled concert planned for last April are still valid.

Theme:

Christmas cribs in Liechtenstein Palace in Prague

Liechtenstein Palace displays an exhibition of the traditional Christmas Cribs. The exhibition is organized by the Czech State Administration, it was open last Saturday by Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Mirek Topolanek.

Visitors can see old Christmas cribs borrowed from the National Museum, cribs from children’s houses and cribs made by students of The Academy of Arts, Architecture And Design in Prague from glass, ceramics, porcelain, metal and jewel.

The exhibition is open in Classicist Liechtenstein Palace (U Sovovych mlynu 4 street) in Prague’s Kampa every day from 10:00 to 18:00 until 20th December. The entrance is free.

Theme:

Public transport in Prague during holidays

If you are going to spend Christmas holidays or New Year’s Eve in Prague, you might be interested in the timetables of public transport those days. Here is a short summary.

On Christmas Eve the metro will go until 19:00 according to timetables for Saturday. From 19:00 it will run in intervals of 20 minutes. The number of trams will be cut down from 16:30, between 18:00 and 19:00 the trams will start to follow timetables at night (until 7:00 the next day). On 25th and 26th December the public transport will follow timetables for Sunday.

From 27th to 29th December the metro and trams will follow timetables for holidays. On New Year’s Eve metro will go according to the timetables for Saturday, trams and buses for Sunday. Some buses will end between 20:00 and 21:00. From 20:00 to 01:30 the metro will run in intervals of 20 minutes.

Theme:

Prague ZOO open during holidays

Zoological garden in Prague is open during winter. There are approximately 40 to 50 thousand visitors during winter. Prague ZOO is also open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Visitors can bring food those day and feed the animals together with the breeders.

Prague ZOO is open during winter from 9:00 to 16:00, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day only till 14:00. In cold season the Prague ZOO displays an exposition Nothern Forest with reindeer and elks.

Prague ZOO also celebrates these day 2nd birthday of the first gorilla born in Czech ZOO. At the end of January gorilla Kamba will have her first baby, in May gorilla Kijivu will give Moja a little brother or sister.

Theme:

Christmas decorations and fireworks in Prague

Prague, especially the centre of the city, is full of Christmas decorations on every step. The city devoted plenty of money to create the special Christmas atmosphere. Probably the most beautiful atmosphere is in Prague Old Town Square with a large Christmas tree and Christmas markets. Just the tree cost 1 million CZK.

The decorations on Na Prikope street in the centre of Prague cost 1,1 million CZK. Even though the city has to pay a lot of money on Christmas decorations, it has big profits from hiring open spaces for Christmas markets. Even the smallest towns and villages try to have some Christmas decorations.

On the other hand, the towns in the Czech republic do not want to spend so much money on New Year’s fireworks. It is up to private companies to organize fireworks. It is different from 1999, at the start of the new millennium, when the towns wanted to show off. Buying pyrotechnics is legal in the Czech Republic.

Theme:

Drug addicts move from the main railway station to the city

The necessary reconstruction of the main railway station in Prague has already started. The station will be reconstructed to become an attractive place for shopping, spending a free time and pleasant travelling. But the reconstruction has already brought some negative affects: drug addicts moved from the main station to the city.

The main railway station was a place with a high number of drug addicts, prostitutes and homeless people. With the reconstruction they come back where they used to be before – near the metro stations, especially Flora, Muzeum, Mustek, I.P.Pavlova, namesti Miru or Karlovo namesti.

Prague, as any other big cities, attracts drug addicts for its anonymity, easy accessibility of drugs and money. There are about 8 – 10 thousand drug addicts in Prague.

Trams will be back in Wenceslas Square

Trams in Prague has been running here for 113 years. The first tram in Prague went from Letenska restaurace to Kralovska obora on 18th July 1891. In the 70’s of the 20th century the trams were almost abolished, metro was suppose to take over the transport. However, trams are still here as a necessary part of the city transport and the city plans to build even more tracks these days.

It has been 26 years since the last tram went along Wenceslas Square, on 13th December 1980 to be exact. Before that the trams had been going on Wenceslas Square for more than 100 years. The city council plans to return trams to this famous sguare, near the National Museum. The trams should come back after finishing the building of the city ring.

Also the Wenceslas Square will look different. According to the project of architect Jakub Cigler, who won the competition for the new look of Wenceslas Square, the square will have wider pavements, more restaurant gardens and shops. There will be only one traffic lane for cars which will park in an underground garage.

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Cheap flights to Brussels and Mediterranean countries

Prague airport will increase the number of the flights to the countries at Mediterranean Sea and the Belgian capital in summer next year. The summer season starts at the end of March.

Slovak carrier SkyEurope announced flights to Brussels and, for the first time in history, the direct flight from Prague to Sicily. Nowadays only two air carries, CSA and SN Brussels Airlines, fly to Brussels and the tickets are very expensive. From March SkyEurope will go also to Catania, Burgas, Athens, Thessaloniki and Copenhagen.

Another air low-budget carrier Smartwings plans to fly to Cyprus, Majorca, Crete and Malaga. Last year the low-budget airlines had 12 percent of all passengers travelling from/to Prague, this year it is already 20 percent.

Theme:

52 casinos will be closed

The Ministry of Finance abolished the licence for two companies running the net of casinos. That means that 52 casinos will do the business no more and the number of casinos in the Czech Republic will be 30 percent lower (129 casinos).

The number of casinos in the Czech Republic is higher than the average in advanced countries. According to the police, the casinos are used for laundering money. Some people are paid to come to the Czech Republic and lose all the money from illegal business in casinos.

The players in casinos in the Czech Republic bet 10,1 billion CZK and won back 8,1 billion CZK last year. The Ministry of Finance has established stricter rules for running casinos in the Czech Republic recently.

New aquapark in Prague before Christmas

A new aquapark in Prague-Barrandov will be most probably open on 22nd December this year. Visitors can look forward to a 25-meter-long swimming pool, 2 slides, a sauna, a whirlpool bath and a restaurant.

The swimming pool will be managed by a private company. The building of the aquapark cost 200 million CZK. The entrance fee will be probably 99 CZK for 90 minutes and 150 CZK for 3 hours.

To Barrandov you can get from Smichovske nadrazi (metro yellow line B) by trams 12, 14 and 20 (stop sidliste Barrandov) or by buses no. 246, 247, 248 (stop V Remizku).

Christmas organ music

The lovers of Christmas music can look forward to Christmas Organ Concerts that take place in St. James’s Basilica (Mala Stuparska 6 street) in Old Town in Prague. The programme offers three organ concerts of Christmas music performed together with vocal and instrumental chamber groups.

The first concert is held on 26th December performed by Ensemble Inegal, second on 30th December by Corni di Praga and the third by Pavla Vykopalova and Irena Chribkova. Each concert starts at 16:00. The tickets are available through Ticketportal for 290 CZK, or one hour before the concert in front of the Basilica.

On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve you can also enjoy the concerts of organ music performed by Irena Chribkova. The concerts starts at 10:00 in St. James’s Basilica, entrance is free.

Theme:

Reconstruction of the National Museum

National Museum in Prague is going to be under reconstruction. At the same time it will get a new building just next to the museum – the seat of present Radio Free Europe.

The reconstruction of the National Museum into a modern complex suitable for exhibitions, lecture-rooms or restaurants will start soon. Also the exterior of the National theatre in Prague will be restored.

Special care will be given to one of the symbols of the National theatre – two statues of horses driven by the goddess of victory on the roof of the theatre. The experts say that the statues need to be fixed on the roof, because the transport down the roof would be too complicated.

The statues are 6 meters long and had to be supported by textile bands. On of the horses stands on his left leg, the right leg is breaking. Also the golden crown on the roof is in bad condition. The new facade is estimated to cost 160 million CZK.

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New exhibits in the sea world in Prague

The biggest Czech exhibition of the sea world is expanding. Today it commemorates 4 years since the ceremonial opening and at the same time presents two new tanks.

The first tank is 3 meters high and the perspex is 15 centimeters wide. It contains a model of historical ship Bounty. At the edge of the tank you can see a map showing the route of this famous ship. The other container contains a model of one of the most world famous lighthouses from the cap Hatteras in North Carolina. You can also see aggressive barracudas, the fear of scuba divers, or poisonous rays or moray eels.

The exhibition also contains floor animations of fish and tortoises, and a 25-meter-long coral cave. The permanent exhibition can be found in Prague Exhibition Ground (Vystaviste) in Prague-Holesovice. It is open every day (including holidays).

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Czech Christmas And School exhibition

Pedagogical museum J. A. Comenius (Pedagogicke muzeum J. A. Komenskeho) in Prague displays an unique exhibition of Czech traditions before and during Christmas.

The exhibition offers a unique view on Christmas traditions in school children’s eyes. You can see photograph and paintings of children preparing for Christmas and observing traditional Christmas customs and playing winter games.

The museum seats in the building opposite Wallenstein Palace in Valdstejnska 20 street. It is open every day (except Monday) from 10:00 to 12:30 and from 13:00 to 17:00 until 7th January 2007. You can get there by trams 22, 23 (stop Malostranska) or by metro green line A (Malostranska station).

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Prague airport served 11 million travellers

The biggest airport in the new EU member states, Prague International Airport Ruzyne, celebrated another success. Yesterday it welcomed 11 millionth customer.

The traveller is Petr Zykmund who picked up his boarding ticket at 11:04. Last year the airport served 10,8 million travellers, this year it will be around 11,5 million.

Prague airport opened a new terminal Sever 2 last January and now it can serve 20 million travellers a year. The airport management think that the airport will reach this number in 2020. First it has to buy extra land for an additional runway.

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Strict border controls with Slovakia?

The Czech Republic together with the other new EU member states should cross the borders with the old EU member states without passport controls from 31st December 2007. Slovakia has the biggest problems to fulfil the criteria needed for implementing the Schengen Agreement now.

In case the Slovak Republic does not manage to fulfil the criteria in time, the Czech Republic is prepared to create strict border controls on the Czech-Slovak border. The biggest problem for Slovak is the border with Ukraine and the airport without corridors for EU citizens.

Other states that are prepared to create strict border controls are Poland and Hungary. According to Jan Kohout, the Czech representative to the EU, the cost of having strict border controls with the Slovak Republic would be much lower then keeping border controls with the old EU member states.

Prague among candidates for Galileo

A meeting of Ministers of Transport did not find the solution about the seat of Galileo, a satellite navigation system, said the Finish Minister of Transport, Sasanna Huovinen. There are many European countries who want to have the prestigious and lucrative seat in one of their cities. One of the candidates is also Prague.

Galileo is is project of the European Commission and the European Space Agency. It should be an alternative of American GPS and Russian GLONASS. Twenty-seven satellites will provide navigation services from 2011.

Eleven candidates for the seat are mainly from old EU member states, which is, according to Jan Kohout, the Czech Permanent Representative to the EU, against the signed agreement from 2003 that all new EU institutes will be in new member states. Old member states now call attention to security measures, even though all eleven candidates fulfil the basic criteria.

Education project to support tourism in Prague

To present Prague as a safe tourist place – that is the aim of the educational project TouristEduca organized by The Economic Chamber of the Czech Republic this year. The project was dedicated to police officers, owners and employees of travel agencies.

About 2,94 million tourists came to Prague in the first half of this year. 60 percent of them went to Prague. In many foreign guidebooks or on TV Prague is presented as a city with a high level of criminality, especially pickpocketing, car stealing or distribution of drugs. According to Petr Duben from Prague police, the rumours are exaggerated. Criminality in Prague is similar or even less than in other European metropolises.

The programme taught the police officers how to assist the tourists who were the victims of a crime, or show them the right way. The tourist guides were informed, among others, how to warn tourist against pickpockets.

Charles Bridge on a virtual CD

A lot of information and more than six hundred pictures of Charles Bridge in Prague will be issued on a virtual CD soon. Charles Bridge will be the first Prague monument in a series of CD’s.

Besides the pictures made from various angles and views (made also from a platform 30 meters above Vltava River) the CD will contain also a lot of legends or views on the monument from many places in Prague.

The CD will be distributed for free to schools, travel guides or Czech centres abroad in spring next year. This CD can also help during the reconstruction of Charles Bridge. The bridge will be not closed completely during the reconstruction. It will get new insulation, a stronger balustrade and new paving in the first phase of the reconstruction.

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Prague is popular for congresses

Prague Congress Centre hosted 110 000 people and there were 375 conferences last year. With the number of planned congresses Prague is in the 6th position in the world before Hong Kong and Berlin.

Among successful conferences were the conference of astronomers who decided to withdraw Pluto from the list of planets in our Solar System and change the textbooks of millions of students. Another successful conference was the symposium of 4000 delegates discussing about calcified tissues. This symposium was in the chart of Top 100 European congresses.

A hotel with the biggest congress hall in Prague is Hilton hotel with 1500 seats. The hotel belongs to the top ten congress hotels in the world according to the Conference&Incentive Travel Magazine.

Prague can offer 10 000 seats for congresses but it is not enough for very big conferences. But the number of middle and small congresses taking place in Prague is rising. In 2008 Prague will host a psychiatric congress with 10 000 delegates and in 2009 a dermathologic congress with 7 000 delegates.

Changes in taxi services in Prague

Taking a taxi in Prague will be probably more expensive from January next year. One kilometer will cost 28 CZK instead of present 25 CZK. One minute of waiting will cost 6 CZK instead of 5 CZK.

The present rates have been valid since July 2004. The city council decided to increase the prices but at the same time increase the quality of services. Taxi drivers will have to wear pleasant clothes, not to smoke or bother other people with loud music. They will have to use only cars with air conditioning and not more than 8 years old. There will be only one colour – yellow – for all taxi cabs in Prague.

Also the reputation of Prague’s taxi drivers should get better. There are about 15 percent of taxi drivers in Prague who charge more than they should (in contrast to 65 percent in 2002). The Lord Mayer promises further improvements. Overcharge or not giving the receipt will be considered as the breach of the law and can lead to very high penalties or losing the licence.

Theme:

Newly renovated parks in Prague

Prague has invested more than 40 million CZK to the reconstruction of Prague’s parks. These parks should become places for relaxation and children’s games.

The reconstructions of Bezrucovy sady should be finished at the end of this year. Visitors can expect more green areas, more trees, nicer paths and benches around a large fountain in the northern part of the park.

Other parks that will be renovated soon are parks Formanka and Ztracenka. The city plans children’s playgrounds, more fountains and in park Ztracenka also an outside amphitheatre. It will be used for theatre performances or concerts in summer.

Villa Tugendhat will probably change the owners

The only Czech modern building written on the list of UNESCO World Heritage is villa Tugendhat in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. It belongs to the city of Brno and it is managed by The Museum of the City of Brno. Now the original owners of the villa want it back. They want to do the necessary reconstructions and make a museum of it.

The owners, for whom the vila was built by famous architect Mies van der Rohe, lived in that house for 8 years. It cost them 5 million CZK. For this amount of money they could have built 10 houses. Then they had to escape to Switzerlands after the Natzi occupation. Since the Communist times the villa has decayed.

Villa Tugedhat was also a place where two prime ministers of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar, talked face to face. Four months later the country split up into two independent countries. In 2001the villa was added to UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Working and living in Prague in numbers

Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is the centre of government, economics and culture. It attracts people who want to build a career. About one sixth of all Czech people work in Prague. This number is growing every year. The unemployment in Prague is falling every year- from 3,9 percent last year to 3,5 percent this year.

However, there are less people living in Prague than in 1989. It is caused by rich Prague citizens moving into large houses in the villages around Prague who just commute to Prague every day.

The Czech Republic also notices the higher number of foreigners living here. This year there are 310 049 foreigners in the Czech Republic, which is about 30 000 people more than last year. 89 997 foreigners live in Prague. They are mainly from Ukraine, Slovak, other EU countries and Vietnam.

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Film studio Barrandov: the biggest in Europe

Prague has the biggest film studio in Europe now. The new complex of soundproof studios Barrandov is situated in the southwest of Prague. It cost about 200 million CZK, which is the biggest investment in last 60 years.

The new complex consists of 3 halls having together 4 000 square meters. They can be connected together. The highest hall is 14 meter high. The biggest film studio used to be British studio 007 in Pinewood. It burned down while finishing the new James Bond movie.

Film studio Barrandov has contracts with foreign productions for a year, but it seems now that the studio will be busy the next three years. New films Babylon A.D. and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will be shot there soon.

Among films shot in film studio Barrandov are, among others, Casino Royal (2006), The Omen (2005), Hostel (2005), The Illusionist (2005), The Brothers Grimm (2003), The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2002), The Bourne Identity (2001), Hart’s War (2001), A Knight’s Tale (2000) or Jeanne d’Arc (1999).

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Czech music awards Cesky slavik

The biggest music event in the Czech Republic, Cesky slavik (Czech Nightingale) Awards, took place in Prague State Opera last Saturday.

These awards are given every year to the best singers and a band in the Czech Republic. Cesky slavik awards do not represent the opinion of music experts but of ordinary people who send their votes to their favourite music star. In recent years the event was visited by several music stars, such as Vanessa Mae or Kurt Nilsen.

The best male singer 2006 is Karel Gott popular also abroad who got this prize for 32 times. The best female singer is for the second time the winner of music competition Superstar (Czech version of Pop Idols), Aneta Langerova. The best Czech band is Divokej Bill.

The extend of corruption in the Czech Republic

According to the survey of Gallup International conducted for Transparency International 17 percent of Czech people gave somebody a bribe in the last 12 months. That is even more than in Russia, Philippines, Pakistan, India or Thailand. The average in the European Union is 2 percent.

Global Corruption Barometer 2006 is a public opinion survey that explores the extend of corruption through the eyes of ordinary citizen around the world. Among the world’s least corrupt countries are Finland, Iceland and New Zealand, the most corrupt country is Haiti.

Czech people think that the most corrupt institute is police and political parties. 40 percent of Czech people do not believe in the efficiency of government’s measures against corruption. 21 percent of Czech people think that the government does not fight the corruption, 21 percent think that the government even supports it.

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When (not) to pay the penalty on the bus?

If you travel in Prague, the fastest way is to use metro and trams. If you take a bus, you should be prepared that it might be delayed. And even tens of minutes. It is caused by traffic jams in the city.

But what if the bus is delayed and your ticket is therefore not valid any more? And the ticket inspector claims that you have to pay a penalty? According to Tomas Jilek from Prague Public Transit Co. Inc by buying the tickets you accept the contract conditions. However, the timetable is a part of the contract. If the bus is delayed, the inspector has no rights to penalize you. It is the Prague Public Transit who broke the contract, not you.

If the ticket inspector still insists you to pay the penalty after you have explained it was not your fault do not pay the penalty immediately. You can write to the Prague Public Transit company and explain the situation. When they verify your statement, the penalty will be forgiven.

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Prague airport launches websites in German language

German speaking travellers can open new web sites of Prague International Airport Ruzyne in German language. The airport responds to the increasing number of passangers to/from German speaking countries – Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

There were about 1,4 million passengers to/from these countries in the first ten months 2006 which is 11% more than at the same time last year. There will be even more flights between Czech and Swiss capitals – from 46 flights to 86 flights a week.

The websites are now available in three languages: Czech, English and German. Travellers can find there up-to-date information about arrivals and departures, an online map of terminals, an interactive map of destinations and many others additional services.

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More tourists in Prague at the end of the year

More than 200 000 tourists are estimated to come to Prague at the end of the year. There will be about 3% more tourists than the last year. More than 60 000 visitors will spend Christmas in Prague, about 100 000 will celebrate the New Year’s year there. The demand for hotel rooms is much higher than the capacity of Prague hotels.

Most tourists are expected from Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, France, the USA and Russia. There will be about 350 000 tourist in the whole Czech Republic.

Tourist going to Prague for Christmas cannot expect “white Christmas”. According to the weather forecast, it will be more likely rainy and temperatures about zero. Similar weather can be expected for New Year’s Eve.

A big show broadcast live by commercial TV company Nova is planned for the New Year’s Eve on Wenceslas Square. This show will be for free and accessible only for people who will come without guns, pyrotechnics and drinks in glass bottles. The organizers still need to get a licence for the show.

International Weekend of Women in Prague

Female music stars will perform together on the stage of Prague’s theater Archa tomorrow. III. International Weekend of Women with the subtitle World & Another Music will bring an evening full of music and energy.

The music festival is not devoted to a specific genre but it is open to any music style performed entirely by women. You can look forward to the performances of Yvone Sanchez, Jana Vebrova, Yellow Sisters, Rada Synergica, Zuzana Lapcikova, Tara Fuki, Erzsi Kiss, Autopilote & Yumiko, New Orchestra of Dreams & Tonya Graves and Sestry Steinovy.

The festival takes place in Archa theatre (Na Porici 26) tomorrow at 18:00 (the end is estimated after midnight). Tickets can be bought in Archa theatre for 280 CZK or through Ticketpro for 315 CZK. For the programme of the festival click here.

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Old unique photographs from distant journeys in Prague Rudolfinum

Prague Rudolfinum offers these days an unique exhibition of large photographs from the 19th century. The exhibition call Marine Diary of Erwin Dubsky (Namorni denik Erwina Dubskeho) shows unique black-and-white pictures from distant countries.

Erwin Dubsky was a noble man in 19th century who became a commander of Austro-Hungarian navy. During his journeys to Japan he visited many photo studios and bought the best works of that time. The photographs are in a very good state and show, among others, the way of living of local people and their habits.

First part of the exhibition of more then 150 pictures can be seen in Rudolfinum until 5th February 2007. It will be followed by the second part of the exhibition from 7th February to 15th April 2007.

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Low-budget airlines to Russia

The increasing number of Russian tourists coming to the Czech Republic keeps the lines between Moscow and Prague engaged. Low-budget air carrier Smartwings plans to open new lines to the Russian capital.

Smartwings would fly four times a week to the Domodedovo International Airport in Moscow. The air transport is regulated by the agreement from 1966 that says that there would be only one air carrier from each state between the Czech Republic and Russia. The only Czech company that flies to Russia now is CSA. Smartwings wants to ask the Russian Ministry of Transport for a concession for its flights.

Bigger competition and low-budget airlines would lead to much cheaper tickets. Travelling between the Czech Republic and Russia is very expensive now. Cheap tickets can be bought in Germany because Germany and Russia have an agreement about “open sky”.

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Christmas for children from children's houses with UNICEF

World organization UNICEF that helps children all over the world stars a campaign to support the observance of children’s rights. The postcard that is going to be signed comes from the former Czechoslovakia. It was drawn by eight-year-old Jitka Samkova in 1947.

The postcard enlarged to the format 2×1,8 m will be displayed in Prague’s UNICEF shop in namesti Kinskych (trams 6, 9, 12, 20; stop Svandovo divadlo). Everyone who wants to support this campaign can add their signature on this card until 22nd December.

Inhabitants and visitors of Prague can also help children from children’s houses make their dreams come true at Christmas. In Vinohradsky pavilon in Prague 2 (Vinohradska 50) they can pick up cards from the children with their names and the present they would like to get. Bought presents can be handed over to the volunteers of UNICEF near the Christmas tree until 18th December.

Prague's lampman is back

An old tradition comes back to the centre of Prague. At least before Christmas. If you walk at dusk in the streets of Old Town you may see a man with a dark coat, a grey hat and a long stick. This man is lighting up gas lamps on the streets.

This “lampman” walks every day about 4 o’clock along Celetna street to Old Town Square. From Monday you can see him also in Male namesti. Every day he has to light up 120 lamps. The lampman will walk in the centre of Prague until 23th December.

Gas lamps appeared in Prague in 1847. In the middle of the 20th century they were replaced by electric lamps. Gas lamps came back to Prague four years ago in some parts of the centre of Prague. Normally they are lit up automatically at the same time. Only on special occasion you can see a lampman doing this old job.

If you ask him, he will show you how to light up the lamps and you can try it yourself. This memory might be a nice souvenir to take home, don’t you think?

Theme:

Children's choirs in Old Town Square in Prague

The second Advent weekend in the centre of Prague will be devoted to children “connecting Europe”. The project Bridges Between Cities introduces children’s choirs from five big cities: Prague, Brno, Wienna, Krakov, Bratislava.

It is an exchange of children’s singing, dancing and folklore groups from associated cities in Europe celebrating Christmas together. The age of children is between ten to eighteen years old. One of the aims of the project is that the children get to know the visited cities much better.

People in Prague can see the performances of the children this weekend from 15:00 to 17:00 in Old Town Square full of Christmas markets.

Theme:

Exhibition of untypical pictures of Prague

Vaclav Spala Gallery displays an exhibition “Tomas Bican – Mesto” showing 50 large-sized black-and white photos by Czech photographer Tomas Bican. The pictures do not represent the traditional views on popular places in Prague but they concentrate on unique way of looking at the peripheries of Prague.

Panoramic photos of this exhibition show Prague architecture and the way of living in Prague. Bican’s photos were awarded in Czech Press Photo 2001 and Praha fotograficka. This exhibition closes 10 years of Bican’s work on Prague pictures.

You can visit the exhibition in Vaclav Spala Gallery (Narodni trida 30) every day (except Monday) from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 12:30 to 18:00 until 29th December 2006.

Theme:

Christmas markets at Prague Exhibition Ground

Christmas markets can be found on many places in Prague centre. Industrial Palace (Prumyslovy palac) at Prague Exhibition Ground (Vystaviste) in Prague-Holesovice offers Christmas markets with rich accompanying programme.

The Christmas markets starts tomorrow and will last until 22nd December. You can find variety of goods especially from small Czech companies. At the same time Dobry den agency will presents some records and curiosities concerning winter and Christmas in the left wing of Industrial Palace.

From 8th to 10th December food products with Czech quality label Klasa can be bought in the Middle Hall of Industrial Palace. Organizers promise tasting of the food and many interesting competitions.

From 15th to 17th December you can see the work of art potters, smiths, carpenters, glass makers, etc. On 15th December you can also hear Christmas fanfares (at 14:00 and 17:00 from right wing of Industrial Palace).

Christmas beer market is scheduled for 16th and 17th December. You can taste and buy many kinds of beer from the famous ones to more exotic ones.

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Big success of The Hunters of Mammoths exhibition

The exhibition of the National Museum called The Hunters of Mammoths enjoys a big success. Since October it has been visited by more than 110 000 people.

According to Radka Schusterova the exhibition is the most successful one in many years. The most visitors (4800) came on 17th November, which is a national holiday in the Czech Republic.

The most admired exhibit is The Venus of Dolni Vestonice. It was passed for Mona Lisa of the prehistoric age in New York’s exhibition four years ago.

The exhibition is open until the end of April 2007. This Monday and Tuesday the National Museum closes already at 15:00. Updated: the exhibition is prolonged until 2nd September 2007.

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Skype's development branch in Prague

Skype company that offers free or cheap calling through internet all over the world will open a development branch in Prague in early 2007. About 20 percent of the company’s product-engineering workforce will be represented in the capital of the Czech Republic.

About 30 software developers will be hired for the new development branch in Prague. “They [Czech software developers] are among the best in the world and have a lot to contribute to future generations of our product,” said Riina Einberg from Skype company.

Skype, based in Luxembourg, developed a software that enables transmission of voice, video or SMS through internet three years ago. It is used by more then 136 million people in 27 language versions.

Chronicles of Narnia in Prague's Barrandov

American film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has earned 750 million USD in the whole world. The continuation of the film called Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will be shot in Prague again. The premiere of the film is scheduled on 16th May 2008.

The film Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is based on C.S. Lewis’s novel Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, the second published novel in children’s fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Companies Walt Disney and Walden Media decided to use new Barrandov film studio in Prague, the biggest soundproof film studio in Europe, and Czech forest for many scenes. The film will be shot in Ireland and New Zealand as well.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is not the only American film that is going to be shot in Prague (by the way the budget is for the film is 100 million USD). Shooting of the film Babylon A.D. with Vin Diesel starts on 11th December.

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Czech people in statistics

According to the Eurobarometer of the EU most of Czech people (81%) are satisfied with their life. Nine out of ten Czech people are proud of their nationality, almost three quarters are proud to be Europeans.

According to the Public Opinion Research Centre of the Institute of Sociology of the Academy of Sciences 69 % of Czech people do not consider marriage useless. 64,4% single women and 63,6% single men want to get married.

In the chart of aims in life Czech people want to find a partner for life (1st position), have children (2nd), be successful at work (3rd), get married (4th) and have the highest education possible (5th).

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Filmmanie 2006: to the cinema for 50 CZK

Companies Palace Cinemas, Cinema City, Village Cinemas, Multiplex cinema Ladvi and several other cinemas want to attract people to go to their cinemas instead of buying presents or cleaning their houses. They offer tickets for 50 CZK to all their movies.

This offer is valid only from Thursday 7th December to Wednesday 13th December. The cinemas will show their regular programme with new premieres. Visitor can see, for instance, Casino Royal, A Good Year, Happy Feet, Asterix and the Vikings or Flushed Away.

The initiator of this action is Palace Cinemas owning the net of multiplex cinemas. The detailed programme of the cinemas can be found on their websites.

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The National Gallery open for free today

The National Gallery in Prague offers free entrance to all its expositions today. The gallery also offers lots of commented routes in Czech language by lectors and curators.

The National Gallery’s exhibitions are in Sternberg Palace (Sternbersky palac), St. George’s Convent (klaster sv. Jiri), Trade Fair Palace (Veletrzni palac), Kinsky Palace (Palac Kinskych), House At The Black Madonna (Dum U Cerne Matky Bozi) and Zbraslav Chateau (Zamek Zbraslav).

The National Museum announced that on Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th of December it will be open for technical reasons only till 15:00.

No controls at the borders from the New Year's Eve 2007

Travellers can go through Czech borders without showing their passports from the last day of the year 2007. That is the decision of the ministers of the inferior of the EU who met yesterday to talk about the Schengen Agreement. The Czech Minister of the Inferior, Ivan Langer, says that “it is a historical decision which means that Europe will not be devided between people of the first category and people of second category any more.”

The only thing travellers will notice will be a sign which the name of the state they are travelling to. To travel through the airport without controls will be possible from March 2008.

The Czech Republic together with other new EU member states (except Cyprus) will join the Schengen Information System I. which collects police data about citizens. The Czech Republic will invest 200 million CZK to the system.

Even though this obstruction to the united Europe will be gone soon, the Czech people still have to wait for Euro currency. The Czech Republic fulfilled only two economic criteria out of four so far. The first new EU member state who will accept Euro is Slovenia.

New highways in the Czech Republic

Travelling from Prague to other cities in the Czech Republic or Germany will be faster again. New sections of two highways will be open from Usti nad Labem to the German border and from Podebrady to Hradec Kralove on 21st December.

The present highways D8 from Prague to Usti nad Labem and D11 from Prague to Podebrady will be therefore prolonged to the big cities and the journey will be faster and more comfortable. At the same day the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, will open a new highway, A17, to Dresden.

There are about six hundred kilometers of highways in the Czech Republic. New highways will have been built in Moravia by 2009. They will connect the west of the country (from the German border ) to the east (to the Polish border).

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Archaeologists discovered an old burial ground in Prague

Prague archaeologist found a unique burial ground, more than 3200 years old. It happened during the construction works of a family house in Dolni Chabry in the north of Prague.

The graves are in many layers on each other so it means it used to be a Bronze Age burial mound. The archaeologists found also remnants of bones, ceramics, decorative items and a bead. Some of the items will be displayed in the City of Prague Museum soon.

It is not the first time this year that archaeologists found historical artefacts. They excavated remnants of an old village in Ruzyne, a toilet from the 12th century in namesti Republiky and this summer the basements of twenty houses with a big hole for mining earth in Dolni Chabry.

Winter sports in Prague

Lovers of winter sports do not have to go to the mountains to enjoy their favourite sport. There are several possibilities just in or near the centre of Prague.

One of the possibilities is to skate for free in Ovocny trh square in the centre of Prague until 1st January. Another skating ring is in Vitezne namesti in Prague 6. This attraction is open from 14th to 20th December. O2 Zlute lazne offers a skating ring for skating and playing ice hockey. Ice hockey can be also played in the multi-functional sport ground in Na Frantisku street (Old Town) on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 to 11:00.

When it starts to freeze you can visit the area of O2 Zlute lazne to ski on the cross-country track just next to Vltava river. Children can use a small ski slope with a ski lift or try to ride a snow scooter. You can get to O2 Zlute lazne by trams 3, 16, 17, 21, 52 from Palackeho namesti (stop Dvorce).

Exotic fruits and carnival costumes in Prague Botanical Garden

Do you want to see the biggest fruit in the world or the most stinking one? Visit these days the Botanical Garden in Prague’s Troja. The exhibition of the exotic fruits of various shapes and colours can be seen in the entrance hall of Fata Morgana greenhouse until 21st December. It is open every day (except Monday) from 9:00 to 16:00.

The exhibition will introduce more then 50 kinds of tropical and subtropical fruits. You can see fruits 1 meter long and half a meter wide. This fruit that can weight 25 kilograms comes from a breadfruit tree.

Besides the fruits you can also see an exhibition of pictures made during the expeditions of Botanical Garden. In the areal of Botanical Garden you can also visit the exhibition of carnival costumes and old Czech traditions, that were followed at the beginning of December, called Od Barbory k masopustu.

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More Czech monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List?

The Czech Republic has already 12 monuments on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List, which is for such a small country real success. Now it seems that more Czech monuments will be added to the list. The Ministry of Culture suggests 12 more culture monuments or protected territories.

One of the monuments is Villa Muller in Prague-Stresovice built in the functionalist style. This villa made by Austrian architect Adolf Loos is maybe a bit severe from the outside, but the interiors are very interesting and unique. The building was reconstructed to the way it looked in 1930, including the furniture. Now it serves as a museum of architecture.

Another candidate is Church of the Sacred Heart (kostel Nejsvetejsiho srdce Pane) in Jiriho z Podebrad Square in Prague made by Slovenian architect Josip Plecnik. According to the experts this church is one of the most important world religious building from the 20th century.

Other candidates for the UNESCO list are, for instance, the most popular Czech castle Karlstejn or mountain hotel and TV transmitter Jested near Liberec.

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The best restaurants in Prague according to Grand restaurant

One of the guides you can follow when deciding where to go for lunch or dinner in Prague is Maurer’s Grand restaurant (in Czech) with addresses and evaluations of many restaurants in the Czech Republic. The volume for 2007 is issued today.

More than 400 independent people evaluated the best restaurants in the Czech Republic for Grand restaurant. They evaluated the restaurants in three categories: the taste and quality of meals, services and the interior.

The best restaurants in the Czech Republic are mainly in Prague. The first position belongs to Allegro restaurant in Four Seasons hotel (Veleslavinova 2A, Prague). The average bill for dinner shows 1760 CZK. The second position belongs to Alcron restaurant in Radisson SAS hotel (Stepanska 40, Prague) and the third one to La Rotonde also in Radisson SAS hotel in Prague.

The best chef in the Czech Republic is Vito Mollica from Italy cooking in Allegro restaurant. The best meal can be found in Alcron restaurant in Radisson SAS, the best services in Allegro in Four Season and the best interior in Svata Klara (U Trojskeho zamku 35/9, Prague).

Historical models of cannons in Prague Castle

From tomorrow visitors of Prague Castle and the fans of military history can visit a new exhibition in Powder Gate Mihulka in Prague Castle. This exhibition, called “Historicke modely del”, is devoted to historical models of cannons from the 15th to the 19th century.

Visitors can see tens of historical models of cannons (such as cannons from the Napoleon’s wars) and projectiles. The exhibition includes graphics and drawings on the related theme.

The exhibition is open every day from 9:00 to 16:00 in Vikarska street in Prague Castle. The entrance fee is 50 CZK (reduced 30 CZK).

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Namibian products in Prague's stalls

Products from Namibia, the state in the south of Africa, can be bought in the stalls in the centre of Prague until the Christmas Eve. Customers can chose from a wide collection of dolls, animals, pillows, bags or charm bracelets made of ostrich shells or beads.

By buying these products you will contribute to the project of Clovek v tisni organization which opened Wake Centre workshop in Keetmanshoop in the south of Namibia. There are more then 50 employees in this workshop. Profits from the sale will go back to the people who created the products.

This project is a part of a larger project whose aim is to help people reduce the effects of pandemic HIV/AIDS in the south of Namibia.

St. Nicholas celebrations

St. Nicholas celebrations (Mikulas in Czech) start tomorrow. If you want to spend a nice evening full of games, competitions and singing and be surrounded by Czech Mikulas, devils and angels, go to Old Town Square tomorrow.

The meeting of Mikulases, devils and angels is at 17:00. Then, at 30-minute intervals, there will be competitions for the most beautiful angel, the best devil and the nicest Mikulas. Children and adults can look forward to the rich programme accompanied by fairy tale creatures.

Children can also expect some surprises in Strossmayerovo square in Prague tomorrow. Mikulas will give small presents to nice children from 16:00 to 17:30.

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Thousands of people wanted to see the Christmas tree

The Lord Mayer of Prague, Pavel Bem, lit up the Christmas tree in the middle of Old Town Square on Saturday and officially started the Christmas markets on this well-known square.

The play of lights took two minutes before the Christmas tree was lit completely. However, the Christmas atmosphere was spoiled a bit when thousands of people in Old Town Square were stacked with crowds of people in side streets who still wanted to see the Christmas tree. It took several minutes before the people could move from their places.

Another Christmas tree was also lit in Prague Castle by Livia Klausova, the wife of the President of the Czech Republic. She also started the charity collection for children in children’s houses. Today at 17:00 a Christmas tree will be lit in Kampa near the Charles Bridge.

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Christmas Prague

More than three weeks before Christmas you can already sense Christmas atmosphere in Prague. We bring you today a list of events concerning Christmas in Prague.

Tomorrow the Lord Mayer Pavel Bem will light up the 65 years old Christmas tree in Old Town Square. 80 000 small lights, 700 flashing lights and 50 silver snowflakes has been used to decorate the tree. Christmas trees are also lit in Ortenovo namesti, Andel or Strossmayerovo namesti. Also Prague Castle will have a Christmas tree. It will be lit by the First Lady Livia Klausova in Jirske namesti on 3rd December in 16:30. At the same time she will launch Christmas charity collection for children from children’s homes.

Traditional Christmas markets are in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The organizers of Old Town Square Christmas markets announced that a special souvenir can be bought there, a cup with the motive of Prague’s Christmas markets. Other Christmas markets are in namesti Miru, namesti Republiky and Avion Park in Prague-Zlicin.

Besides the markets you can visit many actions taking place in Prague. You have a change to skate on ice in Ovocny trh in the centre of Prague. 21th December is a Day of Records – you see a woman with the longest hair or a giant kettle in Old Town Sguare. From 10th to 20th December you will find a big tent in Vitezne namesti with a phone box inside connected to Jezisek (or Santa Claus?). The most visited actions every year are Ryba’s Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve and the evening programme on New Year’s Eve.

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No border controls in the CR soon

The Czech Republic and other new EU member states are getting closer to implement the Schengen Agreement soon. Schengen Agreement allows people to cross the border between Schengen countries without border checking and tourists with Schengen visas to access the area.

To connect new EU member states with the police database will happen probably in the middle of 2007. The obligation to show the passport at the border will be probably abolish in December 2007, the latest in January 2008.

The plan has to be approved by all EU Ministers of the Interior. The Schengen Information System can still absorb the police data from the Czech Republic and other new EU countries, so it is probable that these countries will be put into the system before a new software is introduced.

Less markets in Prague

While walking in Prague, you can find many markets (we do not talk about Christmas markets now) selling all kinds of goods. From 20th December there will be less market places in Prague, especially in the centre.

A new edict reduces the number of market place from present 568 to 529. It was decided that 23 market places in Prague 1, which is the centre of Prague, will be abolished.

The markets will disappear from many popular tourist destinations, such as Mikulasska street, Old Town Sguare behind the town hall, Wenceslas Square, Ovocny trh Square, Zelezna street, Celetna street, Betlemske namesti and Petrin.

Also the opening time of several restaurant gardens will be reduced.

Exhibition of the most luxurious cars in Prague

The big success of the last year brought the exhibition of the most luxurious cars back to the Trade Fair Palace (Veletrzni palac) in Prague. The most expensive cars at the exhibition this year are Rolls-Royce Phantom or Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano.

This most luxurious motor show in the Czech Republic, Mmotion 2006, displays not only cars from of the most prestigious brands but also motorcycles and luxurious goods. Among the presented brands will be Alfa Romeo, BMW, Cadillac, Corvette, Ford, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mercedes, Porsche, Harley Davidson, Suzuki, Sony, Swarowski, Bohemia Piano and many more.

The exhibition is open to the public tomorrow from 10:00 to 17:00. Tickets are available only in the box office in front of the Trade Fair Palace, NG building (Dukelskych hrdinu 47, Prague-Holesovice). The tickets cost 270 CZK.

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Prague's Lord Mayer is (again) Pavel Bem

Prague people know their new Lord Mayer. Yesterday 49 representatives out of 69 voted for Pavel Bem, who became Prague’s Lord Mayer for the second time. 20 votes were not valid.

Civic Democrat Pavel Bem was the only candidate for the post because Frantisek Hoffman from the Communist party stood down his candidature the last moment.

Since 1784 Prague has had 40 Lord Mayers. Pavel Bem, a phychiatrist, is the fourth man in such a long history who defended his post for the second time. He promises especially big changes in traffic.

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