Telč is situated at the south-west tip of Moravia, half-way between Prague and Vienna. According to legend the foundation of the city is associated with the victory of the Moravian Prince Otto II over the Bohemian King Břetislav in 1099. It was this victory that meant the building of a chapel, later to become a church, and a settlement which forms today’s Staré Město (Old Town). The city saw its greatest period of expansion under the rule of Zacharias of Hradec in the 2nd half of the 16th century. At the beginning of the 19th century Telč played an important role in the entire south-west region of Moravia, which was still growing with the arrival of the railway. Because the historical centre of the city, surrounded by fish ponds and city gates, has retained its unique shape over the centuries, in 1992 it was inscribed in the UNESCO List, which brought with it increased interest and a subsequent influx of tourists from around the world.
The Czech Republic is a cool little landlocked country south of Germany and Poland, with a national addiction to pork and beer. Potatos, cabbage, and dumplings are close behind them, and they also have this great bar food called "utopenec." It means "a drowned man," it's pickled sausage with onions, perfect with some dark wheat bread and beer. The Czech bread is legendary, like a meal all by itself.Czechoslovakia first became a sovereign state in 1918 when it declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The state of Czechoslovakia lasted until the "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, which created Slovakia and the Czech Republic.It was occupied by Germany in WWII but escaped major damage, unlike most other European cities. The nation's capital, Prague, retains some of Europe's most beautiful Baroque architecture as well as one of the largest medieval castle complexes still standing. The President of the Czech Republic has his offices in the Prague Castle even today.There was a coup d'etat in 1948 and Czechoslovakia fell under Soviet rule. For fifty years Czechoslovakia was a Socialist state under the USSR, subject to censorship, forced atheism and even the arrest of jazz musicians!In 1989, communist police violently squashed a pro-democracy demonstration and pissed everybody off so bad that a revolution erupted over it, finally ending the Communist rule.The next twenty years saw rapid economic growth and westernization. Today in Prague you can eat at McDonald's or KFC, shop for snowboarding boots and go see a punk rock show.The Czech Republic took over the presidency of the European Union in January 2009. This instantly created lots of political drama because the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, is a renowned Euroskeptic.We anxiously await the outcome of "President Klaus vs. the Lisbon Treaty", a world heavywieght fight sceduled for spring 2009.Text by Steve Smith.