St. Barbara Cathedral in Kutná Hora, photo: Štěpánka Budková

Today's Mailbox includes: Topics: cards, photos, etc. from listeners. Is there a DX program on RP? Holocaust survivors, St. Barbara Cathedral in Kutna Hora, prostitution in the Czech Republic. Quotes from: Hidemitsu Miyake, William Cookson, Bradley Allen, D.M.Cook, James Witherman, John Mellington,

Dean, you seem to be holding onto something that looks like a reproduction of a Japanese painting?

Yes, it's a typical Japanese scene from what, judging by the photos, must be the folklore and traditional architecture museum in Hiroshima. Hidemitsu Miyake, of Hiroshima City, Japan, who sends it says:

"Enclosed is some literature about my city. As an expression of my friendship, please accept it as a souvenir."

Thank you very much but it really is a shame that the whole text is only in Japanese, I'm afraid our command of the language isn't up to learning more about it. But thanks, anyway, and we do think the reproductions are lovely.

Now, while Mr Miyake's Letter in Japanese was difficult to understand, the name of this Welsh seaside resort, which William Cookson, our listener in Kidderminster, England, sends a post card from is difficult to pronounce. The place, I believe is called Llangranog. Here's what Mr Cookson had to say:

"For a change, instead of a picture from the Cotswolds, I thought I'd send this of a small seaside place in Wales. My wife and I have holidayed there at various places and have had some good times there."

And we also received a lovely card from Bradley Allen, in Whitstable, Kent, England. It shows a wind mill in his home town. Mr Allen also asks:

"I was wondering if Radio Prague possibly has a media news/DX program along the lines of "Sweden Calling DXers which was broadcast by Radio Sweden until 1990."

No, we do not have a special program for DXers. We did, some years ago, but like most short wave stations, it was discontinued. You yourself say that Radio Sweden hasn't had it on the air since 1990.

But I think the reason is more obvious. With new, more modern technology the old DX traditions are becoming more and more rare, and interests only a decreasing minority of listeners.

Many stations have even stopped broadcasting on short wave altogether, which Radio Prague certainly does not intend to do. We have had our station's director Miroslav Krupicka confirming that on our programs a number of times.

And every once in a while we also have our short wave expert, Olda Cip answer specific questions from listeners about short wave listening in their part of the world. I'm afraid that's the best we can do at this point.

We cannot possibly mention all the booklets and cards in this pile of mail, I'd just like to sum up by saying we do appreciate them - and thank you.

And a special Thank You to D.M.Cook for the recording he sends us. It's a programme broadcast on January 21st on BBC Radio Scotland about a Czech lady artist Marian Grant who was born in Prague and now lives in Glasgow. She is a concentration camp survivor and from February 23 there is an exhibition of her concentration camp paintings in Edinburgh.

One question we keep on getting from our listeners is what places are worth visiting in the Czech Republic.

And it's not an easy one to answer. One thing is quite clear, though, you should certainly not limit your stay to Prague, even though it is so crammed with historic sites that every visitor admires. But other places are just as lovely, and if you have a look at the map, the country isn't all that big and you can visit many of the sites within a single day.

Among visitors who'll gladly back this advice is James Witherman from Melbourne, Australia:

St Barbara Cathedral in Kutná Hora,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
"During my much too brief visit to your fantastic country, I did find time to visit the old mining and mincing town of Kutna Hora. And I wouldn't have missed it for anything. The city is beautifully kept and the locals told me that this was the doing of the past few years. But they were worried about the future of the St. Barbara Gothic Cathedral, which badly needs major repairs. Has the money needed been found at long last?"

Yes, it finally has and everybody has heaved a sigh of relief. Even though it is the property of the Church, the money will be coming from the state budget - most of the over one hundred million crowns is needed just to repair the roof and the outer walls.

And when you realize the enormous number of historic monuments in bad need of repair, no wonder it has taken so long.

But Kutna Hora's St Barbara Cathedral is really special. It's one of the loveliest gothic churches with a very interesting history. It was started in 1388 and the original backing came from the local miners - St. Barbara is their patron saint. There was gold and silver in Kutna Hora, the royal mint was there, and the progress of construction work on the huge cathedral mirrored the ups and downs of the town's wealth and mining success, especially the declining deposits of silver.

A number of times construction work was discontinued - even though the church did serve its purpose and for example, until this day you can find lovely medieval statues of miners with their lanterns inside the cathedral. But in 1558 construction work was stopped altogether, and for more than 300 years nothing was done. Final construction work ended in 1905, more than 500 years after it had been started.

Which is part of the reason why it's in such bad need of repair.

The church is on the UNESCO list of historic cultural monuments, which does not bring any financial aid, but is proof that it's well worth the investment.

A fact the Kutna Hora inhabitants fully realize and they have started a collection among themselves to help. The church is the main attraction for foreign visitors, some 80 percent of them come to Kutna Hora in order to see the church - that's some 150 000 visitors a year.

Moving on to a completely different topic. A rather drastic move from the church to prostitution. Well, John Mellington from Vancouver, Canada asks:

"Is prostitution legal in the Czech Republic?"

Prostitution is neither legal nor illegal in this country. The laws simply do not deal with it. Under the old communist regime it was pretty straightforward. Everybody had to have an employer, with a stamp in his identification card to prove that he or she was making an honest living. Married women were an exception so all you had to do, if you wanted to earn money through the oldest profession, was to get somebody to formally marry you.

Now all that has changed and prostitutes, if they are not causing any trouble can go right ahead. Neither their state of health nor incomes are checked in any way and of course, they do not pay any taxes.

There have been a number of attempts in Parliament to change that, but they have never received the necessary backing. The last unsuccessful attempt to bring some order into the issue, was in 1999 but that bill wasn't passed, either.

Now it seems that the law makers are reaching a more promising consensus. If so, prostitutes would register like any other professionals, they would be under regular medical control, their incomes would be taxed. The state would actually profit from that as it's no small income. The estimated 10 or maybe 11 thousand Czech prostitutes make some 6 billion crowns a year. However, they don't get most of the money as it goes to the organizations - to put it mildly - and individuals who look after them.

Under the new system, they themselves would be getting a higher percentage of the money.

And, of course, the state would be getting some 2 billion crowns in taxes.

So, if the law finally is passed according to current plans, there will be law and order in the prostitution business - and the Czech Republic would be the third country in Europe, right after Germany and Holland, where prostitution is officially legal.

Well, it is here where we have to end today's edition of Mailbox.

Just a quick reminder of our contact information. You can send us your letters to the Radio Prague English section, 12099 Prague 2 in the Czech Republic or e-mail us to [email protected].

And don't forget about our webiste. Log onto for transcribed versions of our programmes, the live broadcast and other useful information on the Czech Republic.