The aftermath of the EU Referendum here in the UK has left me even more nostalgic about my home country than I usually tend to be. Without burdening the blogging community with my opinion on the political shambles that the UK’s found itself in, let’s talk Czech for a minute. Czechs, including me, are a peculiar bunch. We have some very strange traditions (that raise many eye brows both to the West & the East of the country), we have some even stranger believes (not believing in absolutely anything and anyone being one of them) and we eat things that are bordering on not edible (yes, looking at you raw meat and lard!). Here’s 6 things you perhaps didn’t know about the infamous land of beer & football!
🇨🇿 Czech Republic has two distinct regions – Bohemia & Moravia. Each region is miles apart from the other one, and of course, I’m not speaking geographically. Bohemians is much more reserved (ironic, ay?), very fond of beer and Prague. Moravians are very open and friendly, with wine cellars in every house and a bunch of traditions I’ve never even heard of. And their accent is so different too! The country is literally split in half by this invisible border where the Western part – Bohemia is much more Germanic if you like and the Easter part – Moravia is much more Slavic in nature. Both equally as beautiful but strikingly different.
🇨🇿 Traditional Czech cuisine is full of guts. Literally. Traditionally farmers and small town people, we used to rely on pork meat as a base for our diet. One of the strangest (and perhaps the most morbid you’ve ever heard of) traditions is a pig slaughter. These are not as popular anymore but you can still come across these in autumn when travelling around rural villages. Traditionally you gather a whole family, buy a pig (usually from your neighbour) and butcher it in your garden. From scratch to finish Czech people will get use out of every single part of the pig – be it the snout, the ears or the tail, everything gets cooked, pickled, dried, roasted, grilled, preserved… It’s ruthless and culturally inappropriate for many, but traditional in the Czech Republic.
🇨🇿 There are over 2,000 castles, chateaus and forts in the Czech Republic. This is apparently of the highest densities in the world! Czech castles are stunning and proper old but I do have to admit that when you’re a child and get to visit a different castle every weekend (a popular Czech weekend activity for families) they all blur into one. Only now I’ve been living abroad I can truly appreciate the beauty of them. Most of them are entwined in local festivals and traditional workshops on how to make a wicker basket or cut out a flute out of a twig. You can even get a little castle passport and collect stamps from each and every castle you’ve visited!
🇨🇿 Czech people don’t believe. Czechs are non- believers, one of the most atheist countries in the world – to be exact, only 19% of Czech population apparently claim to be religious. Despite this, there’s a surprising amount of catholic churches in the country. From the most beautifully decadent ones with gold ceilings and diamond encrusted crosses and churches filled with human bones to proper horror movie like churches with stone floors and cold, cold church pews with Bibles from the 1800s.
🇨🇿 The largest castle in the world is in Prague! Yes, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. The first stone was laid in 880AD and today it covers over 7,000 sq ft of land. Prague Castle is definitely one of my favourite places in Prague – I’ve seen it more than a dozen times and will never get boring for me.
🇨🇿 Selfridges in Birmingham has been designed by a Czech architect. True story. Jan Kaplicky – known for his Neo-futuristic designs, designed the iconic landmark of Birmingham. Boom!