August 12, 1978: Prague metro’s A line connects some of city’s iconic monuments

Prague’s metro A line passes under Prague’s iconic monuments, has a uniform design and vestibules featuring figures of Czech kings. No wonder one its stations, Staroměstská, was ranked by the CNN among the most beautiful metro stops in Europe.

Staroměstská | Photo: Martin Vaniš,  Radio Prague International

Prague’s metro A line, most frequented by tourists who visit the Czech capital, is indeed unique. When it opened on 12 August 1978, it had seven stations and ran from Vítězné náměstí to Náměstí Míru. Today it has 17 stations, it is 17.3 kilometres long and the train travels the route in 32 minutes.

A journey into the history of the Czech state

When travelling on Metro A line, one is supposed to feel as if moving back in time. The station vestibules are decorated with figures of Czech kings and the Czech signs are replaced by Latin. A special lighting system was designed for the A line to evoke the magic of the places of old Prague. But the most striking element is the distinctive tunnel walls covered in bubble in a square aluminium panelling, either convex or bulging. The bubble wrap design actually has more than just an aesthetic function. Their curvature is calculated to break up the sound waves generated by the original heavy Soviet trains. The author of this technical solution was Jaroslav Otruba, and the graphic design was created by Jiří Rathouský. The colours are unique for each station and have become a basic distinguishing and orientation element.

The Prague metro underwater

Staroměstská metro station during floods in 2002 | Photo: Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy

Floods in August 2002 dealt a heavy blow to the metro. The Staroměstská, Malostranská, Můstek and Muzeum stations were flooded by the Vltava River, with the total length of the flooded section exceeding three kilometers. The transport company only managed to restore complete operation on line A at Christmas 2002.

Currently, the Jiřího z Poděbrad station is out of service and undergoing extensive reconstruction.