January 16 marks exactly 54 years since Czech student Jan Palach’s self-immolation at the top of Wenceslas Square that would lead to his death in hospital three days later.
Through his sacrifice, the student of Charles University, who was only 20 years old, hoped to rouse his fellow citizens from apathy and resignation months after the Soviet-led invasion that had crushed the Prague Spring.
About half-past one, Jan Palach doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire near the fountain at the National Museum in Wenceslas Square in Prague. After several minutes, those passing managed to extinguish the living torch.
The seriously burnt student was taken to the Faculty Hospital in Vinohrady, but the injuries were so serious that he had no hope of surviving.
He left a letter at the site explaining the motives of his terrible act: “As our nation is living in a desperate situation, and its reconciliation with fate has reached its utmost stage, we have decided that in this way we will express our protest and shake the conscience of the nation …ˮ He died three days later, on 19 January 1969.
Palach called himself “Torch no. 1” in his letter, giving the impression that he was a part of a larger group which in fact did not exist. But several others followed his example in Czechoslovakia and other eastern bloc countries.
“People must fight against the evil they feel equal to measure up to at that moment,” Palach said before he died in hospital on Jan. 19.
Palach’s death did not change the gradual, almost total resignation in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. For almost twenty years, the name Jan Palach could only be whispered in public.
His life story immediately got into “forbidden” songs or strongroom literary works. Only after a change in relations in the autumn of 1989 could historians, documentarists or artists officially and freely present it.
Palach was not the only person to protest via self-immolation. Student Jan Zajíc followed on Feb. 25, 1969, also on Wenceslas Square. In April in the town of Jihlava, Evžen Plocek set himself on fire, though this was less publicized.
A memorial bronze cross on a small rise in the sidewalk is in front of the National Museum on Wenceslas Square.
There is a square in Prague named after Palach, náměstí Jana Palacha, where the Rudolfinum concert hall; Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (VŠUP); Museum of Decorative Arts In Prague (UPM); and Philosophical Faculty of Charles University are located.
There are also streets and places named after him in other Czech towns, as well as in Luxembourg, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Bulgaria.
Embers of change
Jan Palach did not die in vain. Two decades later, a group called the Movement of the Children of Bohemia — a self-described “monarchist-anarchist” initiative — took inspiration from his activism and called for new protests.
These activists, like the thousands of others who would prove crucial to putting an end to Soviet rule in Czechslovakia, had been children when Palach set fire to himself in 1969. But on January 15, 1989, they took to Prague’s Wenceslas Square to commemorate his incredible protest and the sacrifice he had made.
They flocked to the square every day for a week, in what later became known as “Palach Week
National park Bohemian Switzerland is a great hiking destination. You might already hear about Pravčická gate or iconic viewpoints around Jetřichovice.
If you decide to explore more about this hiking paradise, you need quality accommodation. I tried several pensions in this area, but I can recommend only one – Krásná samota. It means “beautiful solitude,” and once you visit this place, you understand why.
Bohemian Switzerland is my favorite place where I like to take my foreign friends for hiking. Our main destination is usually hiking trek to Pravčická gate, unique stone formation in Europe.
However, I always had an issue finding appropriate accommodation that would allow us to stay for several days and explore the area more. Don’t take me wrong, there are some hotels in Hřensko or pensions in typical Czech cottages, but there was always something that I would not completely recommend it. Until I found Krásná Samota, thanks to Amazing Places recommendation.
Two hundreds years of history
Despite the fact, that pension is really a solitude outside of the civilization, we found it through villages and forest thanks to well-prepared signs. Once we arrived, we were welcomed by friendly dog Lajla and by Marcela with her little daughter Magdalenka. Michal just had a yoga lesson in the attic. Marcela showed us our double room, breakfast area with a fireplace and a huge garden. It was about sunset time, and I cannot help myself and start photographing, it was just magical.
Pension used to be a farmhouse founded in 1818. However, it deteriorated over time, especially during the communist period when private farming was prohibited. In 2013, Michal found this place and started with reconstruction. The whole building is made of natural materials such as wood, sandstone, and clay plasters.
During five years of reconstruction, Michal combined it with his regular job as a hairdresser. Today, he is not pursuing a professional career anymore, and rather enjoys life in the countryside. However, you can still take advantage of his professionalism and have a new haircut.
Krásná samota was finally open in 2018 when Michal and Marcela had a one-year-old girl Magdalenka. If you are wondering how they come up with this suitable name, the responsible one is the little one. Although she was not speaking at this time, she brought a book with this name at the moment when her parents were discussing the name. And here it is, the beautiful solitude.
Today, you can find accommodation in one double room or three apartments, each one with a private kitchen and bathroom. You can prepare food by yourself or have a vegetarian breakfast by the fireplace downstairs. The pension can accommodate up to 17 people.
What you can do and see at Krásná samota
The pension itself is a great place for relaxation. You can explore the garden with growing flowers and vegetables, range with sheep and goats, fireplace under the stars, grill place under the shelter or hammock under the trees. In the middle of the garden is a pond with various fishes. Close by; you can even find a beehive thanks to which Michal can provide you, homemade honey.
During the winter, the garden is still charming, but you can take advantage of fireplace and choice of local wines, have a yoga lesson with Michal, enjoy the sauna with wellness and massages or relax with your book, anywhere you like.
Therefore, Krásná samota is a great place to relax and active holiday for the whole year. I would highly recommend hiking to Pravčická brána (about 30 min drive to Hřensko) and hiking to viewpoints around Jetřichovice (about 20 min drive). Pension is a great starting point for bikers and cross-country skiers. If you prefer just a relaxing walk, the nearby village Chřibská is full of charming timbered houses.
How to get to Krásná Samota
You can drive to Chřibská by highway direction to Dresden and then turn North to Česká Kamenice and village Chřibská. It is about 2 hours drive. In Chřibská, you can find several signs on the way that will take you through the forest to Beautiful Solitude…
Address: Horní Chřibská 84, Chřibská, 407 44
The Czech Republic is imposing a new series of restrictive measures in response to a record surge in coronavirus infections.
From midnight on October 14, all restaurants, bars, and clubs will be closed until the end of the emergency. Takeaway orders will still be available until 8 p.m.
Furthermore, all schools will be closed until November 1, with the exception of schools for the children of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers. Kindergartens will remain open.
Citizens need to wear face masks at public transport stops. A maximum of six people can gather in public and a ban on drinking alcohol in public spaces has also been put in place.
“If the average reproduction number per week will be reduced to 0.8, the measures taken today will be relaxed,” added Babiš.
“We see that the growing trend has the same parameters as other countries such as Israel or the United Kingdom, where there has been the introduction of comprehensive measures. We have to do it, we have no other chance,” said Prymula, adding that “we must change the trend, otherwise the capacity of hospitals will be filled”.
A 30-day state of emergency has been implemented on October 5.
There was a new record high of 8,618 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday, marking the fourth straight day last week of a new record for single-day coronavirus infections.
Government data shows the Czech Republic has had 119,007 confirmed cases with 1,045 deaths, on Monday. Of them, 256 people died last week.
Po jednání vlády jsou přijata tato opatření. pic.twitter.com/PNp2Rr9eIL
— Roman Prymula (@profesorPrymula) October 12, 2020
Po jednání vlády jsou přijata tato opatření. pic.twitter.com/PNp2Rr9eIL
— Roman Prymula (@profesorPrymula) October 12, 2020
On World Cleanup Day, 19 September 2020, millions of people in over 150 countries will stand up against global waste pollution by cleaning up communities, parks, forests, and beaches.
Thousands of communities will act together as one, creating a powerful ‘green wave’ of cleanups spanning from New Zealand to Hawaii and lasting for 36 hours.
“During World Cleanup Day last year, nearly 18 million volunteers from 157 countries around the world managed to collect 82,000 tons of waste,” said Miroslav Kubásek, National Coordinator of World Cleanup Day for the Czech Republic.
The aim of World Cleanup Day is not only to pick up waste, but to also raise awareness of the severity of the global climate crisis, drive behaviour change towards less consumption and induce companies, organizations, and governments to adopt more sustainable environmental policies.
World Cleanup Day is organized by Let’s Do It World – a global movement that supports and connects a new generation of community leaders, who are ready to act together to find lasting solutions for the waste problem in their countries.
Taking place on the third Saturday every September, National CleanUp Day was founded to rally volunteers to better our environment by collaborating with one another to improve their local communities.
Any individual, group or organization can start their own cleanup by simply going to the event’s site and signing up.
You can check out the cleanup map and join an event near you. If there is no event organized near you, in your city or neighborhood, take your own initiative and organize a public cleanup yourself.
Ukliďme Česko is a voluntary cleaning event that takes place all over the Czech Republic (and even in a few places outside of it). Its purpose is to clean up illegal black dumps and mess. The event is organized by NGO Ukliďme Česko z. s. in cooperation with other organizations.
The Czech authorities recorded 506 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the highest number of new infections in one day since the outbreak began.
Czechia has so far reported 21,551 confirmed cases of the virus, with 411 deaths, including 19 over the past week.
The Czech government was among the first in Europe to introduce curbs on movement and business as the outbreak took hold. It began to lift restrictions since May but has reintroduced some measures as cases rose in recent weeks.
Face masks will once more be compulsory on public transport, at health and social care facilities, and in state office buildings from Sept 1, but the government rowed back on a requirement to wear masks in shops, restaurants, and common areas of schools.
Outdoor public events including soccer, which start new league season this week, may be attended by up to 5,000 people, if separated into sections of 1,000, and indoor events can host up to 5,000 in separate sections of 500.
The government plans to further relax restrictions on public events from September.
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