Tourists brave new security measures at Prague Castle
Beefed up security at Prague Castle is leading to long queues, as tourists are forced to wait to have their belongings checked by a ring of police, soldiers and Castle guards. The latest measures, which have just come into effect, are causing major disruptions at one of the Czech Republic’s top tourist sights.
However, critics say the measures are unnecessary, and that the Czech Castle does not face the kind of terrorist threat which would necessitate such heightened security. Some have even accused Zeman of a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt. But President Zeman has stated that he believes the Castle is a potential terrorism target, and he has been provided an extra 100 million crowns by the government to beef up security.
“If you see all the other castles and attractions on offer to visitors in the Czech Republic, then it looks a little bit strange to have such measures at Prague Castle. We are not happy about it, but discussing such concerns with the people at the Castle and the president’s team is very difficult. So if they say they need it for protection, it’s very difficult to counter that.”
The entrance checkpoints, unveiled across all four entrances, are most evident at the main gate to the Castle. They have led to queues several hundred metres in length. Now, in peak season, fears exist that such measures could harm the tourist industry. Jan Papež remains pragmatic on this point:
“I think that in this time, in this world, these kinds of security measures have to be accepted. But, of course, time will show what was necessary and what was unnecessary.”
The president’s spokesperson, Jiří Ovčáček, says that the Castle will continue in its efforts to beef up protections in the ensuing months. However, efforts will also to be made to limit the inconvenience to tourists, he said.