Nov. 17, 2022: What's open and where can you enjoy free admission?

Here's everything you need to know about the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy and International Student Day.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 16.11.2022 13:00:00 (updated on 16.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Nov.17 marks a national holiday in the Czech Republic, the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy, and International Student Day. This year, it commemorates the 33rd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

With the holiday comes a day off work as well as the opportunity to visit a number of public institutions for free. Unlike other national holidays, however, Nov. 17 will not see store closures, though opening hours may be affected.

Why do Czechs celebrate this day?

On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 17, 1989 a large group of students staged a demonstration in Prague. Estimated crowds of between 10,000-15,000 students attended a memorial service at the Slavín cemetery at Vyšehrad, where they commemorated the murder of student Jan Opletal by the Nazis and celebrated World Students’ Day.

During the course of the demonstration, there were calls for the democratization of Czechoslovakia and the resignation of the General Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, Miloš Jakeš.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

The demonstrators then decided to move the protest to Wenceslas Square. The crowd swelled to an estimated 55,000 students as it turned up Národní Třída where it was met by a barricade of riot police. After an hour-long peaceful standoff, the police were given the order to break up the march. The students at the head of the march were then brutally assaulted by the police.

This chain of events and the subsequent protests surrounding it would become known as the Velvet Revolution and would eventually lead to the overthrow of the communist party.

Are shops and other services affected by the State holiday?

The law prohibiting sales on selected public holidays, in place since 2016, is not in effect for the November holiday. Stores can remain open without restriction and all major grocery chains and shopping malls should be open. Opening hours, however, may be affected in comparison to days of normal operation. Shorter hours or in the case of smaller shops complete closures can be expected.

Nov. 17 is the last public holiday this year when large stores can remain open. 

The long holiday weekend will see the closure for repairs of the section of metro line C from Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, to Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. A substitute XC bus service will run between Florenc and Pražského povstání.

Open days and other events will mark Nov. 17

Read our guide to Thursday's lineup of commemorative events, which includes a parade, brunch, concerts, and a host of other events to mark the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, here.

The National Museum is open to visitors with free admission on Nov. 17. The NM has a newly opened exhibit in its New Building devoted to the spread of communist propaganda through museum institutions. Buildings that are not normally opened on Thursday will not open for the holiday.

The National Gallery is open for free on Thursday as well. Entry to all of its buildings, exhibits, and collections is free.

Hrzánský palác in Prague's Hradčany quarter will open its doors to the public, for free, as well. Visitors can go on a guided tour (in Czech) of the interiors, and see the long-term exhibitions Symbols of the Republic and My State. Don't forget to check the view from the terrace, admired by the palace's most important tenant, Czechoslovakia's first President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who lived there between 1894-1896.

The National Technical Museum is offering a reduced entry fee at its main building.

The National Agriculture Museum in Letná has free admission as well; its most recently opened exhibition is Making a Forest. The newly opened Gastronomy exhibition is also a must-see, as is the scenic observation roof.

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