The Wenceslas Square Project

I believe most people would agree that Wenceslas Square has been waiting for a change of shape for quite some time. It is, in its current form, very car- friendly, overcrowded, noisy, unpleasant and, especially at night, not terribly safe. The flow of people on the relatively narrow pavements make it impossible to walk slowly, you rather have to run across as quickly as you can- which is a shame for the place is carefully planned and quite imposing in its way. Weren’t there the tiny nuisance, the highway cutting through its core, between its two dominants- the St Wenceslas Statue and the National Museum.

Putting aside the question who is to blame for this idiotic move of dragging the highway through the city centre (and so ruining several other spots such as Florenc), there is a reason for optimism. The renewal project was agreed upon several years ago.

Its key point is to re- create some of the visage it had during the 1920’s and 30’s. That includes mainly meeting the pedestrian needs rather than the motorists’. The pavements are to be widened, trees planted and the tram line brought back, the cars parking there moved into an underground parking lot. And, mainly, the stupid highway is to be moved behind the Museum. Not only that, it is to be lowered underground, into a tunnel, meaning that the square would no longer be bothered by the effects of its presence. And if our current mayor, Mr Bém, is serious, he will have it cut in half in the whole of Prague next two years. It’s possible it will be gradually abandoned in the future. The problem is that there is a condition: first the highway around Prague, the alternative to the current one that cuts through the city, must be finished. Not to say that nothing will be done, only the decision- makers will be very careful until this problem is solved.

There’s an impressive visualization of the project here. If it is done this way, we may look forward to a much more convenient place for straws, gathering etc. The question is the time frame, the main works are yet to start and the tunnel building in particular will make some noise.

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