Wenceslas Square to be renovated

After a 12-year wait permission was finally granted for part of the square

After 12 years of waiting a zoning permit was issued for the renovation of the bottom of Wenceslas Square. The plan by architecture firm Jakub Cigler Architekti was proposed in 2005.

“Finally! The debate on the form of the square has ended. 'Václavák' will eventually be without a tram. The sidewalks will widen, there will be greenery and fewer cars,” City Hall announced on Facebook.

Trams had run down Wenceslas for a century, until 1980. There had been a debate about rebuilding the tracks, but the approved plan does not include them.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said the permit was good news. “It is a significant step and the renovation of Wenceslas Square is now closer. Wenceslas Square needs the renovation, and the fact that it has essentially been postponed for 12 years because there was no will to follow through. Today we are in a situation where it is essentially necessary,” she said of Facebook.

“We will now wait for a building permit, but some preparation work could theoretically be done now. I believe we can get a building permit quickly, and we'll start building in the next year,” she said, adding that the square does no fulfill its function of being the center of Prague life.

Prague 1 Mayor Oldřich Lomecký (TOP 09) gave some details. “A zoning decision to revitalize the lower part of Wenceslas Square in the section Na Příkopě to Vodičkova became legally valid and enforceable,” he said, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD).

The sidewalk will expanded by a quarter to 17 meters. Some 70 parking spaces will disappear at the bottom of the square, and fewer that 20 will remain.

On the side of the square by palác Koruna, there will be another row of trees. Plane trees will be added to the lime trees.

Jakub Cigler Architekti's proposal won in a competition organized by Prague 1 City Hall in 2005. Its roots go back even earier. The project originated when Václav Havel was president and Jan Kasl was mayor, from 1998 to 2002. “We wanted to show something was happening and that Prague was changing. It's a symbolic thing,” Jakub Cigler said, according to MfD.

Issues that held up the project were concerns from preservationists about the look of the square, and other people raised concerns about the types of trees and whether they would block security cameras. An unresolved issue is the sausage stands, and whether they will be redesigned or simply removed.

Wenceslas Square, called Václavské náměstí in Czech, dates back to the mid-1300s, and historically was a horse market. It has been the scene of many historic moments such as the reading out of a document declaring independence in 1918, the main site of the Soviet invasion in 1968 and the famous ringing of keys in 1989 as part of the Velvet Revolution.

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