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Did you know that

- the first sugar cube was made in Dačice?

In 1829 the brothers František and Tomáš Grebner established a sugar refinery – using sugar beet – in Kostelní Vydří near Dačice. After realising that neither the climate nor the soil in the area was suitable for growing sugar beet, František decided to establish a refinery that formed raw sugar into various shapes and textures – icing sugar, caster sugar, coarse sugar, sugar loaves, sugar cubes, and chips.

In 1840 Swiss-born businessman Jakub Kryštof Rad became the director of the Dačice refinery. His wife gave him the idea and in 1841 he manufactured the first 300 white and pink cubes of beet sugar. Rad moulded them in an apparatus he himself had made. Thus an invention was born, whose practical use was soon to be discovered by the whole world. More at www.dacice-mesto.cz.

 - the most often visited historic landmark in the Czech Republic is Prague Castle?

In the year 2007 alone, this architectonic jewel was visited by 1.42 million visitors. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest populated castle in the world. According to archaeological findings and the oldest written sources, it is inferred that the Prague Castle was founded around 880 by the duke Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty. Apart from being the seat of the Head of State (the President), Prague Castle is also a significant cultural and historical monument. The crown jewels, the remains of Czech kings, precious Christian relics, artistic treasures as well as historical documents are kept here. More at www.hrad.cz.

     

- Czech Taťána Kuchařová won the title of Miss World in 2006?

In 2006 the Miss World international competition for the most beautiful woman in the world took place in the Polish capital, Warsaw, and the then 18-year-old Taťána Kuchařová won the title. The competition started in 1951, and it is the oldest international beauty contest for girls from the whole world. In 2006 there were 106 contestants. More at www.missworld.com.

- the world’s largest stadium is in Prague?

The Strahov Stadium with an area of 63 000 square metres is the largest stadium in the world. The construction work started as early as in 1926. It was first used by members of the Sokol gymnastics organisation and later by members of sports associations. At the moment, there is FC Sparta training centre there. On occasion, concerts of famous stars such as The Rolling Stones are held there.

- the most famous Czech song is the Beer Barrel Polka?

The Beer Barrel Polka, or Roll Out the Barrels, is probably the best known Czech song in the world. It has become popular in many countries during the Second World War. It was composed in 1927 by Jaromír Vejvoda as an instrumental piece of music. He adapted it in 1929 and in 1934 Václav Zeman wrote the Czech lyrics and called it Škoda lásky (Wasted Love).  It became a popular song with the allied armies as well as Czechoslovak pilots in the Battle of Britain. Its popularity is testified also by the fact that it accompanied astronauts on the Discovery Space Shuttle; it was also played in the popular series M.A.S.H. The Vejvoda family archive records 14 names of the song and 27 versions of lyrics in various languages. More at www.j-vejvoda.cz

- the Czech Republic places first on the list of beer consumption per capita?

Beer is considered the national drink by the Czechs; there are almost 500 kinds of beer. Among the most popular are top-quality light and dark lager beers. According to the Czech Statistical Office, each Czech consumes 163 litres of beer per year.

 -  the first radioactive spa was established in Jáchymov?

The Jáchymov Spa is a very famous spa centre, where the first spa with radioactive waters was established. At the beginning of the 20th century strong radioactive springs were discovered there and subsequently in 1906, the first radon spa in the world was estbalished. The spa was established after Pierre and Marie Curie, Nobel Prize winners, had isolated the first radioactive elements - polonium and radium - from the waste from the Jáchymov uranium ore, the uranite. The thermal and radioactive springs improve the condition of patients with metabolic disorders, ailments of the nervous system, locomotive system disorders. Metabolic illnesses (diabetes and gout) are also treated here as well as age-related illnesses. More at www.jachymov.cz.

 - the oldest university in the Central Europe is Charles University?

Prague University was founded by the Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1348 as the first university (studium generale) north of the Alps and east of Paris. It followed the example of the universities in Bologna and Paris and shortly it became internationally renowned. Today there are 42 000 students studying there. More at www.cuni.cz.

- many famous personalities are of Czech origin?

For example the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was born in Prague (in 1937) in the family of the Czech diplomat Josef Korbel. Miloš Forman, the film director and winner of two Academy Awards for the films Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, moved to the United States in 1968.
The list of famous people in the cultural sphere includes composers Bedřich Smetana, Leoš Janáček, Antonín Dvořák (his symphony “From the New World” accompanied the first man on the Moon), and Bohuslav Martinů, writers Franz Kafka, Karel Čapek, Jaroslav Seifert (Nobel Prize laureate), Jaroslav Hašek, Bohumil Hrabal and Milan Kundera, and mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená.
Athletes of world renown include Emil Zátopek, Věra Čáslavská, Petr Čech, Pavel Nedvěd, Dominik Hašek, Jaromír Jágr, Jan Železný, Roman Šebrle, Kateřina Neumannová, Kateřina Emmons, Barbora Špotáková, both Martina Navrátilová and Ivan Lendl are Czech-born as well. Speed skater Martina Sáblíková is a double winner from the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, and from the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. In 2011 and 2014, Petra Kvitová won the Wimbledon women’s singles tennis title.

- the words robot and dollar are of Czech origin?

The word robot was first used in 1920 in a dramatic play R.U.R. - Rossum's Universal Robots, written by the well-known Czech playwright and journalist Karel Čapek. The word was suggested to him by his brother Josef, after Karel asked him what name he should give to the artificial being. The originally intended “labor” sounded too artificial. The word dollar is close to the Old Czech word tolar, which is related to the German Taler, a shortened version of the original Joachimstaler, meaning “of Joachimstal (St. Joachim’s Valley)”. This was the name of a silver coin which Count Shlik started to mint in 1518 in Czech Jáchymov.

- many inventions and discoveries such as contact lenses were made by Czech scientists?

Otto Wichterle, Czech chemist and the founder of the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in Prague, was the inventor of soft contact lenses. He is also considered the founder of macromolecular chemistry and is the author of about 150 inventions. In 1993 one of the planetoids was named after Wichterle. The physicist and chemist Jaroslav Heyrovský was the first Czech scientist to win the Nobel Prize. It was awarded to him in 1959 for the discovery of the polarographic method and its use in electroanalytical chemistry. The outstanding Czech orientalist Bedřich Hrozný, who lived at the turn of the 20th century, became famous for deciphering the ancient Hittite language. In November 1915 he announced that he was able to read the writing of the ancient Hittites, the official language of the Hittite empire. The first sentence he deciphered was: “Now you shall eat bread, and water you shall drink…”

- the unique nanospider technology originated in Liberec?

Nanospider is a unique technology enabling the production of nanofiber textiles on an industrial scale. Nanofibres are fibres measuring 20 to 500 nm in diameter. The use of these materials is wide, they can be used in medicine, in car industry, power engineering and other fields such as construction, cosmetics, environmental protection, for protective equipment etc. Nanofibres and their application are considered material of the third millennium by specialists from around the globe. Professor Oldřich Jirsák and his team from the Department of Nonwovens at the Technical University of Liberec were the first in the world to design machinery for the production of nanofibre textile on an industrial scale. More at www.elmarco.com or www.vslib.cz.

- medicine against cancer was invented by a Czech scientist?

In 2004 Antonín Holý, chemist from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Czech Academy of Science, presented the result of his collaboration with American colleagues. It is a tablet which significantly prolongs the life of AIDS patients. In 2008 a new substance intended for treating lymphoma and chronic leukaemia came under testing at five Czech and five American clinics. Professor Antonín Holý co-developed six drugs used worldwide and sixty Czech and foreign patents. In 2007 he was proclaimed the best Czech scientist. More at www.uochb.cas.cz.

- the largest equestrian statue is on Vítkov?

The largest European equestrian statue cast in bronze stands on Vítkov Hill in Prague. The statue of the Hussite leader Jan Žižka of Trocnov weighs 16.5 tonnes and is 9 meters high, 9.6 meters long, and 5 meters wide.