Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World Summary


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Text Only

Help

Site Map

Tuesday, November 18, 1997 Published at 15:08 GMT



World

Prague's most famous cafe re-opens with Havel's blessing

President Havel - the re-opening represents one more piece of the "natural structure" falling into place

Cafe Slavia, the foremost watering hole of Czech intellectuals, has reopened with a glittering ceremony.

The cafe, whose fame stretched from the 1930s into the communist era, had been closed since 1992 due to a complex legal dispute - much to the irritation of the Czech intellectual elite, including President Vaclav Havel.

The ceremonial reopening, coinciding with the eighth anniversary of the "Velvet Revolution" which ended Czech communist rule, summed up what is special about the Cafe Slavia. It is hard to imagine where else government ministers would be seen mingling with tattoo covered anarchists, or where managers of financial institutions would have a chat with cloth-capped jazz musicians.

President Havel emphasised this unique quality in a message sent to the assembled guests, saying the re-opening of the Cafe Slavia was a victory of "reason over stupidity". The President was unable to attend the opening in person as he is currently ill in hospital were he is receiving treatment for pneumonia.

The Czech President was a regular at the Slavia in the 1960's during his days as a young dissident playwright and he said it's re-establishment was a step towards renewing the natural structure of Czech spiritual life, stressing the cafe's role as a meeting place for various artistic streams and currents of opinion.

Mr Havel also said he looked forward to coming in, sitting down in a quiet corner and gathering his thoughts.

Some people at the grand re-opening asked whether the Slavia really could recover its position as the watering hole of choice for Prague's intellectuals. But its new owners have done their best to recapture the atmosphere of the 1930's, the period of its hey-day, and have also pledged to keep prices down so the place doesn't become a mere tourist trap.

And Mr Havel also had a message for anyone with similar worries - the Slavia need not degenerate into another seedy Prague bar frequented by dubious Mafia types - if you come here he said, they will not.






Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

Related Stories

The velvet revolution

Internet Links

Czech information centre


The BBC is not responsible for the content of these internet sites.
In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named





World Contents

Middle East
Africa
Europe
Americas
South Asia
From Our Own Correspondent
Letter From America
Asia-Pacific