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Archive for czech republic

Guardian of the Flooded Village

By Linda Tancs

A 350-year-old Scots pine grows on the rocky headland of a reservoir called Vír in the Czech Republic. It’s known as “Guardian of the Flooded Village,” referring to the village of Chudobín, which was submerged after construction of the dam. The striking pose of this memento of the lost village earned it first place in Europe’s “Tree of the Year” contest. The contest is organized annually by a consortium of European environmental groups looking for trees with the most interesting stories.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Bathed in Lager

By Linda Tancs

The Czech Republic reigns year after year as the world’s top in per-capita beer consumption. But perhaps it’s surprising to know that beer spas are popular retreats. The beer isn’t fit for consumption—but it’s great for toning and relaxation, they say. One popular spa is in the town of Harrachov, where a local brewery offers a spa experience. The treatment entails sitting in a tub filled with light and dark unpasteurized beer in equal measure along with hop pellets and pure mountain water. And yes, you can drink beer (the potable variety) while you soak.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Prague’s Kafka

By Linda Tancs

Born in Prague, Franz Kafka was a novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature. It’s fair to say that the Czech city shaped his writing life even though he often did not explicitly identify those locales in his works. For example, St. Vitus Cathedral is generally understood to be the church featured in The Trial, and the path taken by Joseph K. in the last chapter of that book goes from the Old Town, across Charles Bridge to the outer limits of the Lesser Town. Literary sleuths also maintain that the view from Bendemann’s window in The Judgment is that seen from Mikulášská Street (today’s Pařížská Street), where Kafka’s family lived in 1912. These and other details of the writer’s life are illuminated at the Franz Kafka Museum. Located just minutes from Charles Bridge, the facility features a number of first-edition Kafka books as well as original letters, diaries and drawings.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Birthplace of the Dollar

By Linda Tancs

The U.S. dollar is the most widely used currency in the world. Do you know where it originated? The U.S. is obviously far too easy an answer. And wrong. To find its origin you’ll need to go to the unassuming Czech town of Jáchymov near the German border. Over 500 years ago the town minted the first Joachimsthaler coins, the predecessor of the U.S. dollar. Its high-purity silver content (derived from the mines in the region, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) made it a popular currency that spread across Europe and was renamed locally. The word “dollar” closely resembles the German thaler and the Dutch leeuwendaler. In fact, the Dutch colonists brought their coin to New Amsterdam (the colony at the southern tip of New York City), where it eventually became the nation’s official currency.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Czech Icon

By Linda Tancs

Founded in the 9th century, Prague Castle is one of the most important cultural symbols in the Czech Republic. Listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ancient castle in the world, it comprises palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles as well as knockout views of the city from the Great South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral. The castle’s season opening is on May 11, when you can visit for free. Be sure to see the falconry show in the castle gardens throughout the day.

Czech Functionalism

By Linda Tancs

In the functionalism tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright stands Villa Tugendhat in Brno, the Czech Republic’s second-largest city. It’s the only UNESCO-designated example of modern architecture in the country, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and completed in 1930 for Greta and Fritz Tugendhat. Due to heavy interest in tours, you’d best book several months in advance. Brno is a two-hour, high-speed train ride from Prague.

The Church of Bones

By Linda Tancs

It’s certainly not unusual for a church to have an accompanying graveyard. What is unusual is an unearthing of tens of thousands of bones—bleached, carved and arranged into decorations in the form of a chandelier, a pyramid, crosses and a coat of arms. That’s what you’ll find in an ossuary in Sedlec near Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. It contains the remains of over 40,000 skeletons, a popular resting place owing to the sprinkling of dirt from Golgotha in the Holy Land and a subsequent expansion resulting from victims of the plagues. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, it’s about an hour away from Prague.

City of a Hundred Spires

By Linda Tancs

Prague is known as the City of a Hundred Spires, its UNESCO-designated landscape in the Czech Republic dotted with spired churches. Its historic heart is in Old Town, bursting with Baroque buildings, Gothic churches and an astronomical clock. Drawing wonder for over 600 years, the clock adorns the southern wall of Old Town City Hall and gives an hourly performance featuring 12 apostles passing by the window above the astronomical dial and the movement of symbolic sculptures.

 

Under the Microscope in Prague

By Linda Tancs

At the Museum of Miniatures in Prague, Czech Republic, the exhibits are meant to be viewed microscopically. How else would you see a flea with golden horseshoes or the Lord’s Prayer written on a strand of human hair? Microminiature is an art form featuring works that typically range from a couple of millimeters to just a couple of tenths of a millimeter. Boasting one of the largest collections of microminiatures in the world, the museum can be reached by taking tram 22 to Pohořelec station.

Napoleonic History in Moravia

By Linda Tancs

Bounded by Bohemia on the west and northwest, by Silesia on the northeast, by Slovakia on the east and by Lower Austria on the south, Moravia is a historic region in the Czech Republic. In this land of chateaux and unique folklore you’ll find significant developments in European history, like the Battle of Austerlitz. Also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, it was a decisive engagement in the War of the Third Coalition, which was fought between the forces of Napoleonic France on one side and an alliance between the Holy Roman Empire, Russia and Austria on the other.  It represents arguably the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, who defeated the much larger Russian and Austrian armies in December 1805 near the village of Austerlitz in modern-day Slavkov. An annual reenactment takes place between Dec. 2 and Dec. 4, featuring military camps, concerts and costumed tours of Slavkov Château by Napoleon himself.

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