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Tábor is a city in South Bohemia. It is named after Mount Tabor, which is believed by many to be the place of the Transfiguration of Christ; the name however became popular and nowadays translates to "camp" or "encampment" in the Czech language.
The town was founded in the spring of 1420 by Petr Hromádka of Jistebnice and Jan Bydlínský of Bydlín from the most radical wing of the Hussites, who soon became known as the Taborites. The town is iconic for the years in which it flourished as an egalitarian peasant commune. This spirit is celebrated in Smetana's "Song of Freedom", made famous in the English-speaking world by Paul Robeson's recording in Czech and English.
The historical part of the town is situated on the summit of an isolated hill separated from the surrounding country by the Lužnice river and by an extensive lake, to which the Hussites gave the biblical name of Jordan. This lake, founded 1492, is the oldest reservior of its kind in Central Europe. The historical importance of the city of Tábor only ceased when it was captured by King George of Poděbrady in 1452.
The Jordan is fifty three hectares in size and is used for swimming in the summer.
Though a large part of the ancient fortifications has been demolished, Tábor (or Hradiště Hory Tábor, the castle of the Tábor Hill, as it was called in the Hussite period) has still preserved many memorials of its past fame. In the centre of the city is the Žižka Square. Only very narrow streets lead to it, to render the approach to it more difficult in time of war. First-time visitors may not even suspect that there is an ingenious labyrinth of tunnels under the houses and streets here. The townspeople dug cellars under their houses and these were subsequently interconnected; an approximately 1km long section of the tunnel system is open to the public.
In the centre of the square is the statue of Jan Žižka, the greatest of the Hussite leaders. Here also is the Dean Church of Lord's Conversion on Mount Tabor, built in 1516 in the style of the Bohemian Renaissance, and the town hall, in connection with which a museum has been founded, which contains interesting memorials of the Hussite period, such as farm-carts which doubled as battle wagons. Major parts of the ancient fortifications and the ancient Kotnov tower and gate of Bechyně near the tower still exist.
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.