Government and City Hall officials planning to transform the city centre

Wenceslas Square today

Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Prague Mayor Pavel Bém on Tuesday signed a memorandum on a proposed makeover of the Prague city centre. The plans include revamping the Czech capital’s somewhat jaded main thoroughfare Wenceslas Square and redirecting the busy four-lane road (the so-called magistrála), at its top end. The ambitious project could be launched in three years’ time.

Pavel Bém
“Thirty years ago a different prime minister opened the four-lane road with pride and I am now equally proud to say that I will alleviate Prague of this burden,” Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek declared before signing the memorandum that should ultimately redirect a significant amount of traffic out of the city centre. The project is a joint-effort by the Czech government, Prague City Hall and the ministries of culture and transport to make the centre of Prague a friendlier, cleaner place both for locals and visitors. Apart from reducing traffic, the plan also envisages a complete renovation of the National Museum building and a radical transformation of Wenceslas Square. Mayor of Prague Pavel Bém:

“It’s definitely a crucial decision, a promise by the government of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall to solve a 30-year-long problem. We have a project that will bring the historical building of the National Museum back to Wenceslas Square; a project that will definitely solve the tragic problem of traffic congestion in Prague.”

Traffic congestion in the city centre has been a matter of debate for years and although the memorandum is not legally binding, it is an important step towards finding an effective solution to the problem. According to Mayor Pavel Bém, the project could be launched in 2011 at the earliest and the most optimistic visions see it completed by 2014.

Wenceslas Square today
When completed, the project should see Wenceslas Square turned into a modern city boulevard with wide pavements lined with trees. It should be dominated by the National Museum at its top end and easily accessible from the above district of Vinohrady. The city hall also plans to re-introduce trams to the lower part of the square. I asked Mayor Pavel Bém how he envisages the future of this place:

“It will be a city boulevard, with administrative buildings and shopping centres; but mainly with intelligent infrastructure. So this part of the city will dramatically change and will offer the citizens of Prague as well as tourists new services, new functions and a cultural centre.”

Mirek Topolánek
Prime Minister Topolánek says he envisages a more user-friendly Wenceslas Square.

“The aim is to make Wenceslas Square more accessible for the citizens of Prague and visitors, to offer better conditions for tourism and change it into a cultural centre. I think it’s a very good decision and I am proud that I am the prime minister who is making these changes to the city centre.”

Photo: Gerald Schubert