Malostranské náměstí renovation to start in 2019

The long planned changes to the square won’t take place this year

The rebuilding of Malostranské náměstí likely won’t start until next year, even though the lower part of the square has been closed to parking since July 2016.

The city hopes to finally get all of the necessary permits by the end of May 2018. The start of the repairs at the beginning of 2019 means that any large-scale disruptions to transportation in the area won’t occur until after the municipal elections in the fall.

Other projects such as the renovation of the National Museum and repairs to the Astronomical Clock should be finished before the elections, so the city should be free of major disruptions at the time of the vote.

The first stage of the Malostranské náměstí renovation should be an archaeological survey in the first half of 2019. The square has been in continual use for centuries and the ground underneath it should have traces of its former incarnations. The foundation of a 10th-century rotunda, for example, can be found in the Charles University Faculty of Mathematics and Physics building just next to the former parking lot on the square.

Tram lines will also be disrupted so the tracks can be rebuilt, and traffic will be redirected during repairs. To make the square more friendly to pedestrians, traffic will remain limited even after the tram tracks are rebuilt.

After the survey is completed and the tram tracks are back in place, the square will be repaved to get rid of the asphalt covering in the former parking lot. The square should get a coherent look with a uniform paving design across the entire square. There will be more places to sit, trees and a fountain.

Part of Nerudova Street will turn into a pedestrian area. Tthe corner at Mostecká Street will have more pedestrian space.

Cultural events began to take place in the square in the latter part of 2016, and in the summer of 2017, a temporary cafe built inside a year-old 300- trunk of a tree was there. The cafe called Rugged Stand was by artist František Skála. Pop-up markets have also taken place in the former parking lot.

Malostranské náměstí has a long history going back to the 13th century. The name of the square has changed over the years. The square has long been divided into two parts and was called Horní rynk and Dolní rynk (Upper and Lower Marketplace), and Malostranský rynek. The upper part was also called Vlašský plac, as many Italian merchants were there.

In the first half of the 19th century it became Štepanské námestí (Stephan Square), and after 1869 it was officially Malostranské náměstí, but people called it náměstí Maršála Radeckého, or Radecký Square, after a large statue located there at that time.

Whether the bronze statue, which still exists, will be returned is still being debated, but Field Marshall Radecký is associated with the Habsburg occupation of Bohemia. A 20-year effort to restore a Habsburg victory column to Old Town Square ended in defeat when the city decided not to accept the replica as a gift, as many people saw it as a symbol of forced oppression.

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