More than 600,000 tourists are expected to visit Prague during December, many of them coming especially to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in the city. Among the biggest highlights is the traditional Christmas market on Prague’s Old Town Square, which will open this Saturday with the lighting of Christmas tree. I asked Barbora Hrubá from Prague City Tourism to tell me more about what visitors to Prague can see and do during the festive season this year.
The Prague authorities have taken the first step to reintroducing tram
lines running down Wenceslas Square. At a meeting on Tuesday, the recently
elected council instructed the transport authority to begin preparations
for a connection between existing tracks on Vinohradská St. and those
crossing the lower half of the city’s main thoroughfare.
Deputy mayor for transport Adam Scheinherr says the lines could be in place within four years. Trams went from the National Museum down Wenceslas Square until the 1980s.
Another line running from Vinohradská St. past Prague’s Main Train Station is also planned for a later date, officials say.
Thousands of people demonstrated in central Prague on Friday evening,
calling for the resignation of Andrej Babiš’s ANO-led government. The
crowd gathered at Prague Castle and marched to Old Town Square, which was
almost full, repeating the scene at a similar demonstration on November 17.
The event was organised by Milion chvilek, a group that has held a number
of protests against Mr. Babiš’s this year.
The gathering took place shortly after the ANO government survived, as anticipated, a no-confidence vote. It was tabled by the opposition over a scandal surround Mr. Babiš’s son, who says he was taken to Crimea against his will so as not to be available to answer questions in an investigation involving the PM and alleged corruption.
The new Prague City Council is looking into investing some 80 million euros
from the municipal budget into creating new car parks and parking spaces in
the Czech capital.
Adam Scheinherr, the city’s Councillor for Transport, said solving the parking problem is among the Prague City Council’s priorities.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s recent tweet reinvigorated the discussion about creating a special Prague district for government officials, which he believes would create synergy and save the state money on rent. The prime minister’s vision is likely to run into obstacles however, as the future mayor of the capital, Zdeněk Hřib, says he is against creating mono-thematic districts.
A modern building ends the last row of houses at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. This is the ‘Euro Palace’ which neighbours two important functionalist buildings – the Astra Palace and the Bata department store. Originally a historical three story corner house stood on the spot, but it was demolished in the 1970s during the construction of the Prague metro.
In recent years, Prague has seen a surge in the number of people offering their rooms and apartments for rent. In fact, every fifth apartment in the downtown area is now rented out via Airbnb or similar services, according to a new study. But experts say fears of city centre depopulation may be exaggerated.
This Saturday marks exactly 100 years since the destruction of one of Prague’s then best-known landmarks, a Marian column on Old Town Square. The monumental Baroque structure was built in 1650 in gratitude for the end of the Thirty Year’s War. But more than 250 years later, it was torn down by an angry mob, which saw it as a symbol of the Habsburg takeover of the Czech lands.
Prague is the second most sustainable city in Central and Eastern Europe after Vienna, suggests the Sustainable Cities Index, put together by international consultancy company Arcadis. In comparison with major cities around the world, it has placed 23rd. The index, which is put together every two years, describes the Czech capital as a “balanced innovator.” I asked Jan Jurčíček, head of marketing at Arcadis, to explain what that means in more detail:
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