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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Terezin Concentration Camp

Terezin was founded in 1780 by Emperor Joseph II of Austria. It was originally a star-shaped military fort, which was built to defend against the Prussian danger. The fort was named Terezin in honor of emperor’s mother – Marie Terezie. By Imperial decree in 1782 Terezin was granted the status of free royal city. Military administration settled there mainly the civilian craftsmen who were necessary to maintain the fort and life of the crew.

The fort has never fulfilled its original mission. The outbreak of the French Revolution gave way to disputes between Austria and Prussia in the background. Nevertheless, the fort was with a view to the possible threat of French invasion, maintained in tenable condition.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the fort was abandoned by the army, and the “Small Fortress” was turned into a prison and held this function until the sunset of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Terezin was also imprisoned (and later here died) Gavrilo Princip who was sentenced for the attack in Sarajevo against Franz Ferdinand d’Este.

On June 10th 1940 the Terezin Small Fortress was taken over by Gestapo and a police prison was established here. Already on the second day came here first prisoners, who started working on the construction of prisons. Proportional to the rising number of prisoners during the occupation the construction of new buildings and facilities continued. In October 1941, Terezin was selected as a suitable place to set up an assembly camp – a Jewish ghetto. In the summer of 1942 has ceased to be sufficient capacity of barracks buildings and Czech civilians had to leave. Terezin became a transfer station on the way to extermination camps and until the end of the occupation passed through here almost 160,000 people (33,000 through Small Fortress), from which about 35,000 people, including many children, mainly Jews, died here.

The city was liberated on the night of 8 to 9 May 1945 by the tank army of General Rybalko, which passed through Terezin to Prague.

On May 6th 1947 the government of the Czechoslovak Republic decided to create the Terezin Memorial, with the aim of conserving and preserving the site as it was during the period of the Nazi occupation. Today, the Terezin Memorial comprises a collection of individual monuments. The visit includes the Museum of the Ghetto where are exposed the historical documents and photographs; the Magdeburg barracks, built along the lines of the original prison; the cemetery with the crematorium; and the Small Fortress, which is dedicated to the memory of political prisoners.

If you are interested in this part of history than Terezin is definitely worth a visit. The city of Terezin is located some 60km north of Prague. If you decide to visit this place you have basically two options. The first one is to go there by your own, for example by bus from Florenc bus station. The second one, which I recommend, is to take some organized tour. During this tour you don’t need to walk between the locations and what is most important you will get a guide who can answer your questions and will tell you more than book can say.

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50 CZK banknote is not valid

50 CZK banknote is not validFor the last few years we had two means of payment in high of 50 CZK. It was the banknote and the coin. But from the 1st April 2011 there is a change and the 50 CZK banknote is not valid anymore.

But don’t worry, if you have some 50 CZK banknotes from your previous visits of the Czech Republic you can visit any bank in the Czech Republic and they will change it for you to valid means of payment without any fees till the end of March 2012.

More information about Czech currency, exchange or payments in Czech Republic you can read our older post.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Useful information

 

City of Telc (UNESCO)

Telc aerial viewIn the 13th century in the Czech kingdom the cities began to develop. Originated either at the site of the old urban settlements, or the still vacant places.
In this period was also established the Old Town in Telc, which gradually merged with the castle courtyard and church.

In 1339 Oldrich of Hradec has bought the town, and although there is no document is believed he has have founded the New Town. Oldrich of Hradec was a member of an important family Vitek, which was settled in southern Bohemia.
The founders gave to the city ​​a number of rights, to make it independent, including litigation, but also a right to have a market, produce beer, etc. The centre of Telc was formed by the market surrounded by narrow houses. The marked was every week attended by traders from the neighborhood, but during the holidays came also the foreign traders.

After a fire in 1530, which destroyed part of the square, the town hall and the residence of Zacharias of Hradec are two other important moments in the development of Telc.  Zacharias of Hradec, a great politician and economist, has restructured the Gothic castle, creating a Renaissance residence. Even in the city fared well: the bourgeois houses were restored, the aqueduct and hospital were built…

In 1604 the town ownership passed into the hands of Svalatas from Chlumec. For the history of the town is important Jachym Oldrich Slavata’s wife who invited the Jesuits to built the college and the church of Jesus. The Jesuits remained until in Telc 1773 when the order was canceled by Pope Clement XIV.

The Lichtenstein-Kastelkorn are the last noble family related to the town of Telc; arrived in the year 1681 and remained until the end of World War II in 1945, when they had to leave the country.

Since 1970 is Telc a part of the national heritage and since 1992 is the city of Telc UNESCO listed.

 

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Vysehrad Castle (Upper Castle)

Vysehrad aerial viewAmong the many monuments in Prague, we should also remember the Vysehrad castle … one of the old fortresses that protected medieval Prague.

The castle on the Vysehrad rock, originally called Chrasten, was founded sometime during the 10th century, certainly later than Prague Castle.

The period of its greatest glory was in the 11th century, when the castle became for a time seat of the first Czech king Vratislav I, whose successors ruled from Vysehrad until in 1140. Rebuilding the original timber castle in stone with the establishment of new churches or religious chapter at Vysehrad changed nothing in his subordination to the Prague Castle.

After the mid-12th century the importance of Vysehrad declined.

Another key moment in the history of Vysehrad arrives in the 14th century, during the reign of Charles IV of Luxembourg. He decided, in deference to his ancestors, to restore the importance of Vysehrad. He wrote the new Regulation of the Coronation, which obliges the future sovereign to make a pilgrimage to Vysehrad on the day before the coronation in St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle.
On a place of a derelict Roman court, the king built a royal palace with a luxurious high arcades and next to it houses for the castle staff, water supply and school. From 1348 to 1350 new walls with battlements, towers, portal, and two gates where built.

Later, especially during the Habsburg period, Vysehrad begins to lose its importance and gradually turns into a ruin, in a symbolic way, reflects the political situation in the Kingdom of Bohemia.

The present appearance of Vysehrad was largely determined in the second half of the 19th century. It was led by a number of nationalist-oriented provosts; of these, the most important in terms of the development of Vysehrad were Vaclav Stulc and Mikulás Karlach, who decisively determined the present appearance of Vysehrad and its major landmark, the church of St. Peter and Paul was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style according a design made by J. Mocker and F. Mikes that respected the disposition of Charles IV’s Gothic construction. It was then that the idea arose of founding a national cemetery at Vysehrad on the site of the parish graveyard. It took many years to build the Pantheon. The present Vysehrad Cemetery is a unique artistic whole, harmoniously fitting its surroundings. It is the final resting place of over 600 personalities from the fields of culture and education.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2011 in Castles and Palaces, Prague Sights

 

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Souvenirs from Prague

Bohemia CrystalThe center of Prague is full of shops selling “souvenirs of Prague.” In fact, I have not seen anywhere in the world so many tourist shops selling, among other, the same things. And of course these souvenirs in many cases has nothing to do with Prague and the Czech Republic.

There’s a lot of Bohemian Crystal shops that sell goods varying quality …some products are really beautiful and have great value, but then there are also goods of poor quality (at the end some shops are hoping that tourists buy anything)! Despite this fact, the Bohemian crystal souvenir of Prague is one of the most important … you just have to rely on honest negotiations!

Custom shirts, bags, etc. … everything with “Prague”. Well, this is a classic souvenir all around the world -Chinese products at low prices. Nothing against, if you like this kind of souvenirs and are aware that have nothing to do with Prague, buy it without any problems…

Czech GarnetAmber and garnet in Prague: garnet is a semiprecious stone that is mined in some parts of Bohemia. But the amber we import from Poland. So buy it if you like but keep in mind that has nothing to do with Prague. By the way if you like garnet I can recommend you to visit the Museum of garnet in Prague (Maiselova Str. 1)… it is one of the few places in Prague where you can be sure not to buy a piece of glass or PVC.

 

Among the many souvenirs of Prague I love the wooden toys and brain teasers. Wooden toys are really beautiful and fun and then, the Czech Republic has a long tradition of their craft production. Among the most typical brain teasers belongs undoubtedly the “Hedgehog in a cage (in Czech Jezek v kleci).”

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Things To Do, Useful information

 

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