Statues coming to Malostranské náměstí

A panel is considering the initial events for the square that has newly opened up to the public

The former parking lot on Malostranské náměstí will soon be home to some sculptures by students from the Academy of Fine Arts. Such sculptures have been displayed in public before, but this will be the first time at Malostranské náměstí, a central location in Prague's touristy Malá Strana district. They should appear within the next two weeks.

As of the start of July, the cars have been gone, and the city plans to turn the area into a place for cultural events, but so far the program has not been finalized. Tables and chairs have already been put on the square, and have proven to be quite popular. The original number has already been doubled for a total of 23 tables and 90 chairs.

In the long term, the square is to be rebuilt and a new fountain and a historical statue from the 1800s may be installed, but the final plan is not certain. The square had a large stone fountain for several centuries.

Projects for the square are meant to be non-commercial in nature, and they will be judged by a panel representing local organizations, the Prague 1 administration and Prague City Hall. Nine projects are currently under consideration, and details on the first approved ones will soon be made public. People with potential projects can apply for times up until the end of October. The panel is particularly interested in theater, concerts, exhibitions and benefits.

A new informational sign tells about the current state of the square and about a new architectural competition for developing the square. The planning should take two years. In the meantime, the painted lines of parking spots are being removed to make the square a little more inviting.

There was a previous competition to decide on what to do with the square, but many people were unhappy with the result, which did not have many seats or trees. The architectural team of Martin Hájek, Václav Hájek, and Petr Horský made that winning design.

Malostranské náměstí is not the only square to be made more user-friendly. Vítězné náměstí in Prague 6 has a new area called Šesťák, an initiative of Ondřej Kobza. He was behind the pianos in public, chess on the sidewalk and poetry machines.

Šesťák, which means “the six,” has replaced 16 parking spots with a place for live music, a book exchange and hammocks. It may serve as an example for other places in the city.

People can sit and drink coffee, dance and otherwise enjoy themselves. That square now has a program every day. On Aug. 12 and 25 it will have silent dancing, where people tune into radio receivers and listen over headphones.

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.

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