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
The entire construction was completed at the beginning of the 15th century.
The foundation stone was laid down by Charles IV on the 9th July 1357 at 5:31 a.m., and the date and time have not been selected randomly.
When we write the numbers down as follows: 1 3 5 7 (year) 9 (day) 7 (month) 5 3 1 (time), we get an increasing and decreasing scale with number 9 at the top:
In addition to this sequence, time was also chosen with respect to the position of the planets – all of the known planets were above the Sunset, which was Lion’s ascendant sign, the Heraldic symbol of the Kingdom of Bohemia. According to the legend, bridge builders added the egg mortar.
Work on the bridge went ahead but Charles IV died long before its completion; in 1378 while the bridge was finished in 1402. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the first of many famous statues were added which came to define the appearance of the famous structure.
From 1883, there was a horse tram passing across the bridge, replaced in 1905 by electrical line. In order to preserve the artistic view of the bridge and not to ruin it with wires leading at the top, Frantisek Křižík came with a special line through the bridge deck.
Yet the heavy carriages vibrated the construction and thus were replaced by buses in 1908. Even the buses were not ideal, so the transport was again stopped the next year, to be renewed in 1932 using buses on tires.
Public transport operated here until World War II, cars stopped driving across the bridge in 1965.
Charles Bridge along with its rich history became one of the most visited, most beautiful, and most valued monuments in Prague.
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
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 National Theater in Prague has announced Divadlobraní 2020 campaign. Everyone can purchase tickets with a 40% discount for any performances that will be held from August 10 to September 30.
The promotion applies to performances not only in the National Theater but in its other buildings as well: National Opera, Nová scéna (New Stage), Karlin Musical Theater, Stavovsky Theater.
To get a discount:
– if you buy the tickets at the box office of the National Theater, specify the password “40% Divadlobraní”;
– if you buy the tickets online on the official website, choose the discount “Divadlobraní” from the menu and enter the code “20202021” (without quotes). The system will automatically recalculate the final price.
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