Tuesday, March 16, 2010

City Facts about Prague

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Nicknames for Prague have included Praga mater urbium/Praha matka měst ("Prague – Mother of Cities") in Latin/Czech, Stověžatá Praha ("City of a Hundred Spires") in Czech or Zlaté město/Goldene Stadt ("Golden City") in Czech/German.
Situated on the Vltava River in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural and economic centre of the Czech state for more than 1100 years. For many decades during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was the permanent seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, the city proper is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.1 million international visitors annually.
Prague is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events. There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. Prague hosts Music Festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival and the Prague International Organ Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Prague also hosts the Prague Writers' Festival, the Summer Shakespeare Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival as well as hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.

Monday, March 15, 2010

City Facts about Vienna

The Bob Cole Conservatory Choir is going to visit Vienna during the Performance Tour 2010. Incantato Tours discovered some interesting facts about the Austrian city:

Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.7 million (2.3 million within the metropolitan area, more than 25% of Austria's population), and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 10th largest city by population in the European Union. Vienna is host to many major international organizations such as the United Nations and OPEC. Vienna lies in the east of Austria and is close to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Founded around 500 BC, Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2005 an Economist Intelligence Unit study of 127 world cities ranked it first equal with Vancouver for the quality of life. This assessment was mirrored by the Mercer Survey in 2009.
Art and culture have a long tradition in Vienna, including theater, opera, classical music and fine arts. The Burgtheater is considered one of the best theaters in the German-speaking world alongside its branch, the Akademietheater. The Volkstheater Wien and the Theater in der Josefstadt also enjoy good reputations. There is also a multitude of smaller theaters, in many cases devoted to less mainstream forms of performing arts, such as modern, experimental plays or cabaret.
Vienna is also home to a number of opera houses, including the Theater an der Wien, the Staatsoper and the Volksoper, the latter being devoted to the typical Viennese operetta. Classical concerts are performed at well known venues such as the Wiener Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Wiener Konzerthaus. Many concert venues offer concerts aimed at tourists, featuring popular highlights of Viennese music (particularly the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss).
In recent years, the Theater an der Wien has become widely known for hosting premieres of musicals, although it has recently devoted itself to the opera again. The most successful musical by far was "Elisabeth", which was later translated into several other languages and performed all over the world. The Haus der Musik ("house of music") opened in 2000.