U for urban life

Prague quarter Vinohrady

Working our way through the alphabet, we have got as far as the letter U this week and as promised we will dive into the topic of urban life. The Czech Republic with its 11,000,000 inhabitants has only one city with more than a million people.

The population of the capital Prague is nearly 1,200,000 and judging by international standards, it's no real metropolis - metropole, but Czechs do see Prague as velkomìsto - that's the Czech word for metropolis or megapolis. Just like every large city, Prague has a centre - centrum - and outskirts - okrajové ètvrti. Another frequently used word for those is periferie. There you will typically find sprawling housing estates - sídli¹tì - with tower blocks made of prefabricated material. In popular language they are called paneláky. When they are particularly tall, they can be called vì¾áky - coming from the word vì¾ or tower. If they are even higher, they are called mrakodrapy - or sky-scrapers.

More and more people are leaving the inner city for the suburbs - pøedmìstí - to live in their own houses in a cleaner environment. Cities in the Czech Republic, too, have to deal with smog - smog (no need to translate that one) - noise - hluk, and traffic jams - dopravní zácpa. Twice a day, traffic slows to a crawl during the rush hour - dopravní ¹pièka, when the streets are congested with cars and different forms of public transport - hromadná doprava (literally translated as mass transport, which is rather fitting).

But cities have also their temptations. There are cinemas - kina, theatres- divadla, clubs - kluby, shopping centres - nákupní støediska and usually more work opportunities - pracovní pøíle¾itosti.

And that's all for today's programme. We've had enough of the rat race, I think, so next week, we'll move on to the letter V and the pastoral idyll of village life. Tune in again if you can. Until then na shledanou good-bye.

See also Living Czech.