Prague Castle buildings sought by Church to remain in hands of state

Prague Castle, photo: Filip Jandourek

Nine buildings at Prague Castle sought by the Roman Catholic Church under a highly-publicised restitution deal with the Czech state will remain in state hands. According to Czech TV, the property sought within the extensive Castle complex, overlooking the Vltava River, will not be returned for reasons of security.

Prague Castle,  photo: Filip Jandourek
Property at the Prague Castle compound which was sought included the Church of All Saints (connected to Vladislav Hall, the ancient coronation site of Czech kings), several buildings in Vikářská Street, adjacent to St Vitus Cathedral, the Powder Tower known as Mihulka, and a pink-coloured house at the beginning of Golden Lane. By appearances, none will be returned to Church organisations for security reasons. Prague Castle is notably the seat of the head-of-state, meaning that the broad castle complex must to be monitored accordingly.

The spokesman of the Office of the President, Jiří Ovčáček, told Czech TV that in any case a return of the property would also have gone against existing agreements signed with the previous Nečas government as well as with former president Václav Klaus.

Church of All Saints,  photo: Francesco Gasparetti,  CC BY-SA 2.0
“The demand for the buildings to be returned would go against the diction of the law overseeing the church-state settlement as well as go against an agreement signed by President Klaus and Cardinal Dominik Duka in 2010.”

The latter deal put to bed an 18-year long property dispute over St. Vitus Cathedral and nearby property, agreeing joint-administration of the historic site by the Church and the state, and agreeing to put to bed additional property disputes.

Under the Church restitution bill, church organisations are to see the return of real estate worth an estimated 75 billion plus an additional 59 billion crowns in compensation for unreturned property over the next 30 years. Even denied the buildings at Prague Castle, the Church says there is no need to take up the matter in court. The Prague Archbishopric’s Milan Badal:

Milan Badal,  photo: Khalil Baalbaki
“I think that going to court is out of the question. In fact, a deal is being prepared that should deal with the whole problem.”

According to reports, a new agreement between Cardinal Dominik Duka and President Miloš Zeman could be completed by the middle of next year; whether they will include the transfer of different administrative buildings – in return for those kept by the state – is not yet clear.