Looking to ride Prague City Hall’s paternoster? From June it will cost you 250 crowns

Prague City Hall’s paternoster

Perhaps you’ve seen one in the Charles University Faculty of Law building – the old wooden ‘infinity’ elevator known as a paternoster. The vintage ride has become quite a tourist attraction, especially the one at Prague’s City Hall. But the influx in visitors poses disruptions to the work at the Municipal building and damages to the lift itself. From June, Prague City Tourism will be operating the paternoster at Prague City Hall, charging 250 crowns for a spin. Lenka Davidová, spokeswoman for Prague City Tourism told me more about the decision.

Prague City Hall | Photo: Kristýna Maková,  Radio Prague International

“The decision to charge people to ride the paternoster is happening because of the inflow of tourists that come to look at this technical monument. Very often, tourists don’t respect the safety instructions or capacity limits. The excessive loads are damaging the elevator, and the presence of many people in the City Hall is complicating its operations. Staring from June, the elevator will be operated by Prague City Tourism, and we will also be organizing guided tours there.”

Is the charge only going to be in place for the high tourist season, or will this be ongoing?

“It will be ongoing. We will start in June with a pilot scheme, but I suppose it will be in place year round.”

Of course Prague City Hall is a functioning work building for hundreds of people. How were tourists getting in the way of day-to-day operations of the space?

“Tourists not only damage the elevator, but also disrupt the operations of City Hall. They weren’t respecting the safety instructions, and the excessive loads are destroying the elevators. Also, the presence of a large number of people wandering through the building complicate the daily operations of the City Hall.”

What has been the response so far? Are people angry with this change, or supportive?

“It starts in June, so we will see how people react then. But I think it’s an understandable change. This is a technical monument, and this is a way to deal with mass tourism. At the same time, we are still giving people the opportunity to visit the paternoster and take a ride in it. We hope that people will understand.”

How is the 250 crowns that is being charged for a ride going to be spent? Is it to maintain the elevator?

“Correct – the 250 crowns will be used to cover the costs of providing tourists the services.”

Roughly how long will the ride be in the elevator? Is it 250 crowns for one spin through the elevator, or is five minutes?

“It is not only a ride in the paternoster, it will also be a guided tour. You won’t only ride the elevator, you will also visit some of the representative halls as well. It will be a guided tour of the complex.”