The challenge of turning unsightly parts of the cityscape into small oases of greenery and community in the Czech capital has been taken up for the first time by a Prague architect and his project to launch an urban allotment in the industrial district of Holešovíce. While the urban gardening concept is already mature in cities as far apart as Melbourne, New York and London, Matěj Petránek’s inspiration came from photographs of the phenomenon in Helsinki.
It is easy to walk past the ubiquitous plaques in the Czech capital that mark the victims and heroes of World War II and not notice them. But each May, on the anniversary of the Prague Uprising and the end of the war, the city districts that have inherited them — the duty had been in the hands of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters (ČSBS) — make an effort to bring their memories to life again.
Here in the Czech Republic, the two classic Easter baked goods are mazanec and beránek. Mazanec is a sweet, though not cloyingly so, bread filled with raisins and often topped with almonds. Beránek is a cake baked in the shape of a lamb. Many commercial varieties are covered in chocolate.
With the year almost at a close, it's normal to wonder what the new one has in store. While some of us make resolutions, Czech folklore leaves the future to chance, seeing destiny in how a thrown shoe lands, the arrangement of seeds in a sliced apple or in the shapes formed by lead poured into water.
In today’s Czech Republic, it’s ever more likely holiday celebrations will include a family member from another country. Alongside the carp and potato salad that Czechs traditionally serve up on Dec. 24 (in lieu of a Christmas goose, turkey or ham), what are the festivities like for ‘mixed couples’? And how do their kids see the gift-bearers Ježíšek (baby Jesus) and Santa Claus?
The Czechs boast the world’s largest mechanical nativity scene — Krýzovy Jeslíčky — which is among the most impressive examples of a vibrant subculture that still produces and exhibits ‘betlémy’ in a bewildering array of styles and materials (from carved fish to gingerbread). The passion for nativities dates back to their banning from churches by Emperor Joseph II.
An alternative to the hectic holiday shopping experience, DesignSUPERMARKET 2011 will offer quality porcelain, glass, fashion, paper, books and jewelry from a hand-picked selection from young Czech designers, in a pleasing atmosphere.
Geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunting game in which participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden geocache, took off in 2000, shortly after Washington lifted restrictions on civilian access to satellite signals used by the US military. The Czech Republic is now fourth in number of caches in the EU and the third most-active globally.
The Average Czech is named ‘Petr’ or ‘Jana,’ has trouble sleeping and dreams of work or sex (which takes 14 minutes), eats pork and drinks beer like there’s no tomorrow, hates shaving and fizzy soft drinks, sometimes goes biking, drives a Škoda Felicia and takes it on holiday to Croatia. While Petr would love to put it to a buxom air hostess, Jana dreams of being ravished by randy foreigners. Meet the ‘Nováks.’
For the average non-fashionista, choosing shoes for the day is a one-minute deliberation on the way out the door. The still young but tight-knit Czech community of sneaker aficionados — sneakerheads, as they call themselves — is looking to show the public otherwise by spotlighting rare sports footwear at the country’s first-ever sneakers exhibit, opening Friday, June 10.