Prague Castle to get larger security checkpoints

The existing shelters leave many police and soldiers out in the elements

New security check points will be built at Prague Castle, according to the president's chancellor, Vratislav Mynář. Aside from being a key tourist attraction, Prague Castle is the site of the president's office and other functioning offices.

The new shelters will take several weeks to build. They will be larger than the current ones and partially covered in glass. Due to the international situation, security at Prague Castle was increased in August 2016, and all visitors have to have their bags and possessions inspected before they can enter the castle complex.

Wooden sheds were built in the fall but they are small and can hold only a few police officers. Other officers and soldiers were left outside to face rain and snow.

Mynář said the new shelters will provide greater comfort and some protection from the elements. The main structure will still be wood and they will be larger than the existing shelters, but not of a size that they will detract from the Castle. The new structures will have windows on several sides so more people can be accommodated faster.

Preservationists have agreed to the designs, and each shelter will will cost tens of thousands of crowns, though exact prices have not been disclosed. The simple structures will be firmly attached to the ground.

The technical aspects of the inspections will remain the same for the time being, but in the future they may be fine tuned. The Castle administration is looking at launching a tender for a new technical framework to improve the current security system.

Not everyone sees the elaborate security as necessary. Critics at the time it was introduced said there was no credible terrorist or other threat to Prague Castle and it was simply a populist stunt by Czech President Miloš Zeman.

Experts from the tourism industry say the checks are out of proportion with the potential risk and serve to discourage tourism. Similar checks are not present at other tourist sites, which face the same potential risks.

The president’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, previously said that the Castle would try to limit the inconvenience to tourist while at the same time improve security.

The most significant recent public breach of security was in September 2015 when the art activist group Ztohoven replaced the president's flag with a large pair or red underwear to highlight his ties to Russia. Several people responsible for Castle security lost their positions as a result of the breach. The artists were acquitted of charges a year later, but that has been appealed.

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