Dilapidated Expo 58 restaurant in Prague receives no help

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Czech pavilions at world Expos seem to suffer from bad luck. After the recent problems in Hannover, where the Czech Republic's pavilion was disastrously misnamed the Chechen pavilion by the organisers, here in Prague, the most popular pavilion from Expo 58 has become dilapidated and has received no help to date. Alena Skodova has the story:

Several right-wing councillors recently criticised Prague Town Hall officials for turning down a proposal suggesting that the Town Hall buy the semi-dilapidated building of the Expo 58 restaurant. The restaurant was part of the Czech exposition at Expo 58 in Brussels, and with its Czech cuisine it was massively popular back then.

The restaurant, located in Letna in the Prague 7 district, which offers a spectacular view of Prague, now has a private owner, who wants to transform the restaurant into an office building. This has naturally met with protests from representatives of many cultural institutions. Prague city councillor Michael Hvizdala expressed his surprise that the city was unable to find the 58 million crowns needed to buy this important landmark. "On the one hand, Prague has been proclaimed the European city of culture for the year 2000, on the other hand we are not able to revive an important part of Czech cultural heritage," Mr. Hvizdala complained.

What is surprising is that the Department for Caring for Historical Monuments at the Prague Town Hall waited three years before it fined the present owner for neglecting the former restaurant. And what's even more strange is that they agreed with the proposal to transform it into an office building.

Prague's mayor, Jan Kasl, estimates that the renovation of the restaurant would cost some 180 million crowns, that's 600 thousand dollars. At this point, though, no-one seems to know what will happen next.