Obliged to close their doors to the public during the coronavirus pandemic, a wide range of Czech cultural, historical and religious institutions have begun offering an extended range of virtual tours and online programmes. Among the latest to do so is the magnificent St Wenceslas Cathedral in Olomouc – which is developing a 3D virtual reality tour with English-language commentary – while the annual Prague Spring international music festival, whose programme, of course, needs no translation, will broadcast live.
The Czech state railways administration has been quietly developing a new, uniform audio announcement system that will do away with unique station jingles, beloved by train-spotters and many a nostalgic commuter. Over the past two months, such jingles – directly associated with specific destinations – have disappeared from Frýdek-Místek, Pardubice, Hradec Králové, Valašské Meziříčí and even Brno. But a petition is afoot to stop the move in its tracks.
The Bohemian town of Kladruby is famous worldwide for its horse stud farm, founded by the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II. It is also home to a spectacular 12th century Benedictine monastery where the martyred saint of Bohemia, John of Nepomuk, was tried and tortured. An effort is now afoot to have the cloister and Czech Baroque Gothic style church named a European Heritage site.
One of the most frequent woes of foreign tourists in the Czech Republic is being ripped off when changing money. The Czech National Bank has just revoked the licences of three currency exchange offices in central Prague for violating their obligations under a 2019 amendment to the Foreign Exchange Act. So how much has the situation actually improved since the new regulations protecting clients went into force? A question for journalist Janek Rubeš who exposes Prague scams in his Honest Guide videos.
In 1987 a Czechoslovak Tatra truck set off on a trip around the planet that was to take in no fewer than 67 countries. The crew were treated like heroes when they left. However, by the time they returned communism had ended and interest in their adventures evaporated fast. Now long-lost footage from the trip is to be shown for the first time at Czech Radio.
Prague City Hall is pushing ahead in its efforts to fight visual pollution in the Czech capital. After banning giant bubble blowers and ‘street artists’ wearing animal costumes from the city centre, Prague councillors have now focused on excessive commercial advertising and shop window design, which harm the visual image of the historical centre.
The region of Eastern Bohemia has for centuries been celebrated for its fine textiles and traditional lacework. Last week, the Ministry of Culture added a specific type of Czech lace to the intangible cultural heritage list, a step towards such recognition by UNESCO. Meanwhile, an exquisite example of lacework – a lady’s cape comprised of 21 metres of lace – has just been restored ahead of the 750th anniversary of the town in which it was discovered.