Central Europe is not very popular for work placements abroad! And even if the Czech Republic is a little more popular than its neighbours, the number of people we send abroad on placements is still anecdotal. You really do have a lot of internship opportunities there and the people speak pretty good English! What’s more, they’re very Francophile because we share a lot of the same history; our countries are indeed closely linked. This Central European country is full of little stories and peculiarities, some of which are quite unique. Today, we’re giving you the chance to read a top 10 list of anecdotes about the country, to give you a taste of your work placement in the Czech Republic! The International Horizons team, after a few visits to the country – you can read about our experience if you like! – has selected the best ones!

  • Prague Castle: a world record

Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world. It covers 70,000 square metres. It is Prague’s most visited tourist attraction, with 1.8 million visitors every year; the Eiffel Tower, next door, welcomes 7 million. When you’re in Prague, you can’t miss it: it overlooks the city on the Mala Strana side. You can go there during the day, walk back down the hill through the old town and take advantage of the opportunity to visit the many wine cellars ? The area is truly sumptuous. And for the more sporty, there are two tennis courts accessible below. In fact, the whole district, and Prague city centre in general, is really sumptuous: there’s lots of entertainment, free cultural events and lots to do, all year round!

  • The astronomical clock: a new record

The Prague Astronomical Clock was installed in 1410, making it the oldest working astronomical clock in the world. And it is splendid. It is located on the Town Hall, Old Town Square, in the heart of Prague’s historic quarter. Every day, the 12 apostles march past at a fixed time, in a quite exceptional ballet. The history of the clock is shrouded in legend: the Master Clockmaker, Hanus by his elegant name, is said to have had his eyes gouged out so that he could not produce a similar clock elsewhere. However, astronomical clocks do exist elsewhere, and in France we have plenty of them. But the one in Prague is absolutely exceptional, and well worth the diversions.

  • And another record …

The country has the highest density of castles in the world: more than 2,000, some of which are in ruins. The country is so rich in heritage that it is difficult to keep them all in good condition. It’s not uncommon to come across sumptuous castles in ruins as you drive along the roads of the Czech Republic. My favourite to visit is the baroque castle of Vranov nad Dyji, located in the heart of the Podyji national park, which is renowned for the diversity of its flora and fauna. In fact, there are 4 national parks, all rivalling in beauty and diversity: 2 are in the very north of the country, while 2 are in the very south.

  • Beer as an emblem

The Czechs are among the biggest beer consumers in the world, drinking no less than 150 litres per capita per year. The Bretons had better watch out ? And you soon realise when you set foot in the country: beer is everywhere. Even Topito has devoted an article to it with the Top 10 beers in the Czech Republic to drink when you’re in the country: I’ll leave you to discover. And you won’t break the bank: in Prague, which is the capital, you can still find pints of beer for €1. And that’s a strong argument for a work placement abroad ? The most famous Czech beer is certainly Pilsen: you can find it just about anywhere in the Czech Republic, including, of course, in the town of Pilsen: it’s only 1 hour 22 minutes by car from Prague.

  • The sad legend

During the Second World War, an atrocious rumour was spread, and became a legend. Hitler was said to have planned to preserve the Jewish quarter of Mala Strana. Not just for fun, of course, but to turn it into a giant museum of an “extinct race”. Only 14,000 Jews survived the deportations from Bohemia-Moravia, and 153 of the 202 communities disappeared. In our history lessons, we focus a lot on Western Europe, but the countries of Eastern Europe suffered their share of horror, and the worst certainly happened in Lithuania and Hungary. Two museums, in their respective capitals, Vilnius and Budapest, are dedicated to them. I strongly advise you to visit both of them, they are very tough, but striking, and really well constructed.

  • Josef Ressel

The name may not ring a bell, and that’s because of France. Yet Jossef Ressel was a great Czech inventor who revolutionised the world of shipping: he invented the concept of propeller propulsion, and even went so far as to create his first ship. Unfortunately, after an initial unsuccessful attempt, he was robbed by French merchants who even registered the patent in their name. Other of the country’s inventors are widely famous: Antonin Holy, whose work was used in the search for a drug to combat AIDS, or Jan Janksy, to whom we still owe the classification of blood… The Czech Republic holds a few records in this area and is reputed to have a very efficient university system, and above all the highest number of young people in higher education.

  • Holasovice

This is an authentic local village. It has always been inhabited, and has even been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village is very special, with its Baroque architecture and colourful houses. The village is easily accessible by car from Prague, which is only 2 hours 15 minutes away, and is close to the university town of Ceske Budejovice: for the anecdote within the anecdote, this university is in partnership with that of Lorient for university exchanges and academic semesters.

  • The legend of the Prague Golem

In Jewish mythology, the Golem is a being generally made of clay, with no free will and, above all, who obeys only his master. And Prague had its own: it’s certainly one of Prague’s most popular legends! In the 17th century, when the atmosphere was particularly anti-Semitic – Jews were accused of performing rituals involving murder – Rabbi Juda Loew Bezalel decided to create a Golem to protect the population. The Golem was awakened by incarnations in Hebrew, and was simply meant to protect the population.

But a good legend without blood… is not a good legend, is it? The Golem took a liking to blood and the murders continued, so the rabbi was forced to kill his own creature. But the rabbi’s son is said to have brought the Golem back to life, and it is still roaming Prague’s Jewish quarter…

  • Czechs are Francophiles

Czechs are Francophiles, yes yes! In fact, our two histories are closely linked, not least thanks to one of the most famous kings the Czech Republic has ever had, Charles the Beloved, or Charles IV. He spent a large part of his education in France, and despite his love of Bohemia, he never forgot France. Something that made a big impression on me when I was a presenter in Ibiza (20 years is a long time ? ) was the Czech language. There were about 80 Czechs a week who came to the hotel, and despite the difference in our two languages – they really have nothing in common! – I found the accents quite similar.

  • Museum of sex machines

The Museum of Sex Machines in Prague is well worth a visit: 600m2 and 3 floors right in the heart of the historic district, entirely dedicated to sex machines. And I can assure you that you’re going to be very surprised by some practices that go back hundreds of years. Por*nHub hasn’t invented a thing ah ah. The Czech Republic, like Romania, is still famous today for its many pornographic studios and other small family atmospheres, strip tease bars, and so on.

You’ve got it: during your work placement in the Czech Republic you’ll have plenty to discover. Between the legends, the people, Prague, the beers and the castles, you’ll have a great time. And if you’re having trouble finding an internship abroad, the International Horizons team is here to help, so get in touch!

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.