Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Montessori School

This little infants' school for children from two-and-a-half years of age and upwards opened in the Vršovice neighbourhood in 2009 and is one of two Montessori schools in Prague. English, as well as Czech, is spoken, so that children from different countries can be welcomed to the community. In accordance with the founding principles of Maria Montessori, the school teaches children to have respect for others' needs, talents and responsibilities, as well as their own; and to this end children are encouraged to initiate their own opportunities for learning and playing, under the observation and guidance of their teachers.

Apart from the specialized Montessori educational programmes the pre-school also offers post-lunch creative activities such as art, English, drama and music classes.

Pictured here with older brother Peter and proud mum Lena is young Misha, who has been going to the 'Montessori Dům' for a year or two, before he enters the Czech high school system in the autumn.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sunlight on an old wall, Košická

At the end of Košická stands an old house which has somehow survived the grand sweep of history, even though the rear elevation, seen here from the neighbouring Na Královce, is really quite dilapidated.

I have no idea of the history of the building, but the hexagonal turret (on the right of the picture) has always struck me as an unusual and interesting feature, and the two gaping windows and fallen plasterwork amplify the air of abandonment, even - perhaps especially - in the summer sunshine.

This is a quiet, unprepossessing area of town. The unusual cottage next door is now a Montessori school, and I shall be showing some pictures of it soon. It has a small picturesque garden, inhabited no doubt by fairy-folk. But if it's real ghosts you're after, this is surely the nearest you'll come to a haunted house.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Galerie Deset (Waldes Museum)

In December 2009 I posted a picture of a billboard advertising Koh-i-Noor, the manufacturer of press-studs, buttons and fasteners, and its famous trademark of the winking girl. The founder of the company, Jindřich Waldes, was born in 1876 in Nemyšl u Tabora, and set up his first business in Holešovice before establishing a new headquarters in Vršovice.

Opposite the church of St Wenceslas, on the corner of Moscow Street and Slovenia Street, is a smart town house that was originally built for Waldes in 1911 as commercial premises for the company. In 1918, the building was re-branded as the Waldes Museum of Buttons and Fasteners, and gained this smart new entrance and an allegorical statue representing the Sciences by Čeněk Vosmík (whose work also adorns the National Museum).

With factories in Vienna, Paris and New York, Waldes soon became a rich man, but, despite having paid the almost unbelievable sum of 8 million crowns to the Nazis as a ransom to get his family out of the country in 1939, he himself died two years later in Havana under mysterious circumstances which have never been solved. One colourful account suggests he was poisoned. Today the 'Waldesovo Muzeum' is a smart modern art gallery, Galerie Deset ('Gallery Ten').


Koh-i-Noor press-studs,
showing Frantisek Kupka's
famous design, Miss K-I-N

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Building vocabulary

We're all familiar with these rather pedantic signs, the international  icons of the health-and-safety brigade, but you may not have seen them in Czech before. Although they may be good for little else, notices like these are nevertheless one way to pick up some useful vocab. So here goes. From left to right, visitors are reminded to use protective gear at all times, to enter only if wearing a hard hat, and that unauthorized entry is forbidden; and on the bottom row, that there's a danger of injury, danger in the area of the crane, and danger of falling down holes.

The most useful word here for everyday use is 'nebezpeči' (danger). 'Bezpeči' from 'bez' (without) and péče (care) is the exact equivalent of the French 'sans souci', so the word for danger means, literally, 'not-without-care'. An interesting technical term is 'jeřáb'. Just like English 'crane' and French 'grue', the word refers to both the bird that stands on one leg and its mechanical equivalent used in construction.

This notice is fixed to the metal hoarding around the splendid 19th century pile known as the Rangherka, which dominates Vršovice Square (Vršovické Náměstí) and is currently being converted into accommodation for the elderly. The original plan, for a hotel and restaurant, was put on the back burner after the global financial crisis caused a fall in tourist numbers, but there is still some debate as to how a project as big as this will pay its way.

Today's City Daily Photo theme is 'Under Construction'. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants