Prague will soon have another spot where people can swim in the Vltava river. An area called Plovárna Baden Baden is being created on Štvanice ostrov in Prague 7.
This year it will operate in a limited mode from August 13 at 5 pm until the middle of September, and there will be no admission fee. Sunbeds, toilets, showers and refreshments will already be available for visitors in 2020.
In 2021 there will be beaches with sand, a paddling pool for children, a wooden pier and various sports facilities. The pier will be used for sunbathing and cultural purposes.
The plan for the future is to have beach volleyball, football and a badminton court. There will also be the opportunity to use paddle boards and pedal boats.
Plovárna Baden Baden will be in the large grassy area the eastern tip of the island, behind the tennis courts and skateboarding area, and across the river from Pražská tržnice. The island is accessible by a ferry that is part of Prague’s public transit system, by foot from the bridge Hlávkův most, or by tram to the stop Štvanice.
“We would like to return this phenomenon of folk swimming pools to Prague and convince not only Praguers of the fact that the water quality is much better than before, but also that it is not necessary to leave Prague to go bathing,” David Boháč, one of the owners of the swimming pool, said according to the Czech edition of Forbes magazine.
Urban public swimming places used to popular in cities worldwide in the 19th century and first part of the 20th century, but went out of fashion in the latter part of the 20th century due to concerns over pollution. Many cities worldwide, though, have been revisiting the idea as conversation efforts have cleaned up many waterways.
“We have been noticing that Prague has lagged unnecessarily in this respect for some time. The idea to create a swimming pool on the Vltava was gradually formed thanks to a visit to several European cities such as Copenhagen, Berlin and Vienna, where similar projects operate,” Boháč said.
A ferry connecting Holešovice with Karlín, with a stop at Štvanice, now runs near the site of the planned swimming area. The ferry route does not have to change because it is far enough from where swimming will take place, according to Plovárna Baden Baden’s owners.
A swimming area on Štvanice is not a new idea. One had been there from the start of the 20th century until the floods of 2002 devastated the island. It never reopened after that. Currently, the only place to offer swimming directly in the Vltava is Žluté lázně in Prague 4–Podolí.
There were many other swimming places in Prague as well. Občanská plovárna, which now hosts weekend markets and is used to film a talk show, was built in 1840 as a place for the public to use when they went to bathe in the Vltava. It is below the cliffs of Letná on nábřeží Edvarda Beneše, but hasn’t been used for swimming since the 1950s.
There has also been an effort to build an enclosed pool directly on the Vltava. The plan was popular with the previous administration of Prague City Hall, but is not now seen as a priority.