Czech Republic. Parliament made a controversial decision
in January to tax the compensation that churches and Jewish
parishes receive for property seized during the communist
era. The equivalent of about SEK 24 billion is to be paid
out over 30 years, and according to the new law, the sum is
to be reduced by close to one fifth. The churches reacted
angrily and the matter was taken to the Constitutional
Court, which rejected Parliament's decision.
CountryAAH, air pollution in Czech cities is a growing problem. In
Prague at the beginning of the year, the city decided on
free public transport on the days when the smog is worst,
hoping that commuters should leave the car at home those
After a preliminary investigation into corruption, the
police ordered charges against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš
for fraud. He was accused of spending € millions in EU
grants for small businesses in 2008 for his own corporate
empire. Babiš said he was innocent and described the charge
as politically motivated.
Protests erupted in Prague when President Miloš Zeman
appointed a new Minister of Justice, who was suspected of
being a tool for removing the legal threat to Babiš. The
protests grew with tens of thousands of participants.
In the elections to the European Parliament in May,
Babiš's ruling party won ANO (Disgruntled Citizens 'Action)
by just over 21% ahead of the opposition party ODS
(Democratic Citizens' Party) by 14.5%. The pirate party got
close to 14%.
The EU Commission's auditors found a conflict of interest
between Babiš business empire Agrofert and Babiš's role as
head of government. According to the report, Babiš companies
were not entitled to EU contributions.
The message triggered giant demonstrations in Prague,
where, according to organizers, about 250,000 people
demanded Babi's departure. It was described as the biggest
protest since the fall of the Communist regime in 1989. The
opposition demanded distrust of Babiš in parliament in June,
but there was no majority to convict him.
Prosecutors announced in September that the investigation
into corruption against Babiš was closed without
prosecution. However, the matter would be examined by the
prosecutor. The opposition accused Babiš of exerting
pressure on the judiciary.
In November, 30 years after the fall of the Communist
regime, a new giant demonstration was held against Babiš and
President Zeman, when about a quarter of a million people
participated. Keywords were heard that reminded of the
protests in 1989 and speakers from then participated again.
Babiš and Zeman were accused of being Prorian and
threatening democracy. Babiš had belonged to the Communist
Party before 1989 and had contacts with the Czech secret
The prosecutor in December decided that the corruption
investigation against Babiš would resume, after the EU
Commission demanded that the Czech Republic repay EU grants.
Tens of thousands of people went out again in Prague
demanding the departure of Babiš.
The drummer singer Karel Gott passed away during the
year. He was selected as the Czech Republic's most popular
singer over 40 times, recorded hundreds of albums and was
beloved in Eastern Europe and the German-speaking countries.
Karel Gott turned 90.
Prague - architecture and museums
In Prague you will find some of Europe's best preserved buildings and urban
areas from the Middle Ages and 1600's. The district of Hradčany, with the royal
castle in the center, has been built from 800-t. and has predominantly preserved
its medieval structure. Among the few preserved Romanesque buildings is the St.
George Monastery (grdl. 925) with the basilica. The royal castle dates from the
1200's, and was extended with new buildings in the late Gothic style 1333-1502.
Construction of the Gothic cathedral of St. Veit began in 1344 with Peter
Parler as builder 1353-99. Hradčany was later expanded with a number of baroque
mansions, just as there are several baroque buildings below the castle area,
Loretaklosteret with its church; Church Baroque façade built by C. and KI
Dientzenhofer 1722. In addition, Černínpalæet listed in early Baroque in the
latter half of 1600 T.; today it is the seat of the Ministry of Foreign
After extensive fires, the Malá Strana district was rebuilt as a wealthy
neighborhood with many churches, including Jesuit Churches Sv. Mikuláš (Sankt
Nikolaj, 1752) by C. and KI Dientzenhofer, in addition to almost 200 noble
palaces in Renaissance and Baroque, including the Wallenstein Palace, built in
1630 by Italian builders. The Charles Bridge with the Gothic Bridge Tower is one
of Europe's oldest stone bridges. Its construction was started in 1357
by Charles IV. with Peter Parler as architect; the bridge was later adorned
with statues of saints.
The center of the medieval district, Staré Město, is the square Staroměstské
náměstí with the old town hall, a larger building complex (1300-1500); here is
the Jan Hus monument (1915) and a famous astronomical clock from the 1400's. Next
to the square is the Týnský chrám (Týn or Tejn Church), a mighty Gothic edifice
built from the mid-1300's, and completed in 1511, though with later baroque
additions; Tycho Brahe was buried here in 1601.
The Late Gothic gunpowder tower (1503) is part of the old fortification. The
Josefov district, formerly Jewish, was completely redeveloped in the late
1800's, and only twelve buildings, including six synagogues, were preserved,
including the Old New Synagogue, Staronová synagogue, which was built in the
1200's, and is the oldest in Central Europe. Here you will also find the old
Jewish cemetery with 12,000 tombstones from 1300-1800.
On the border of the Nové Město (founded 1348), the commercial center of
Prague, one finds the Obecní dům (City House, 1911), the Prague House of Culture
with concert hall. After countless demolitions, Nové Město appears as a
modern district, where especially the Art Nouveau style paints the street scene,
eg Grandhotel Europa (1906) on Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square), Prague's
A residential complex in Neklangaden, built in 1913 by J. Chochol
(1880-1956), is a rare example of Cubist architecture. Prague has a number of
significant buildings in international modernism, such as the Veletržní palác
(Trade Fair Palace) from 1928, designed by J. Fusch (1894-1979) and O. Tyl
(1884-1939). Today, the building houses the National Gallery's collections of
modern Czech and European art. In the 1990's, an office complex by Frank Gehry and V. Milunić.
Among the city's museums can be highlighted the large state collections in
the Národní gallery (National Gallery), which are scattered in a number of
buildings in Prague, including with Baroque and Mannerist art in St. George's
Monastery and medieval art in St. Agnes' Monastery. In addition, the Sternberg
Palace with older European art, the National Museum, the Jewish Museums in
Josefov as well as the Alphonse Mucha Museum and the Franz Kafka Museum.