Prague City Hall to change Mariánské náměstí from a parking lot to a public square
Prague City Hall. Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

Prague City Hall to change Mariánské náměstí from a parking lot to a public square

The square in front of Prague City Hall is likely to change. Mariánské náměstí is currently used for reserved parking, mostly by local politicians. The square is also next to the Municipal Library, the Klementinum and Clam Gallas Palace.

The City Council commissioned a study to adapt the square so it will better serve the public. Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček (United Force for Prague) said the study will address the requirements for functional use of the space, including parking and transport. “The result should be a residential square that will adequately serve traffic,” Hlaváček said.

The Prague Institute of Planning and Development (IPR) will complete the study by the end of this year, and a contractor to renovate the square will be selected in the tender.

One supporter for opening the square to the public is Janek Rubeš, better-known to the public as the Honest Guide. He has said in the past that it was a shame that Mariánské náměstí, located close to Old Town Square and other tourist attractions, wasn’t used to benefit more people than just local politicians.

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Mariánské náměstí, with its central location, could become an ideal place for people to relax and also relieve some of foot traffic on other tourist routes.

The City Hall itself, with a facade in the Art Nouveau style and sculptures by noted artists Stanislav Sucharda, Josef Mařatka and Ladislav Šaloun, makes a pleasant backdrop for relaxation. The facade of the Municipal Library also has sculptural figures.

Tables and chairs for public use, part of the aptly named Prague Tables and Chairs project, have been on the square since the spring and are in constant use, showing that there is demand to adapt the square into something more user-friendly, Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said.

The project, which began in 2016, now has tables and chairs at over 60 locations that residents and tourists can use for free.

Changes are also being contemplated for the traffic flow. City Hall wants to change the one-way flow on Husova Street so it would go from the square to Betlémské náměstí.

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Several other Prague’s squares are in various stages of renovation. The lower part of Wenceslas Square is currently being renovated to become better for pedestrians. The upper part will see the return of a tram line, and eventually also be renovated. The plan to renovate the square was first mentioned in the 1990s, though, and an architectural plan was approved in 2005. The final permits weren’t issued until 2018.

A new design also been unveiled for Karlovo náměstí. A plan was selected at the end of 2018, and the City Council in April approved some modifications. The revitalization should take place by 2025.

The Prague 3 district is seeking input on a plan to change náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, which was last altered in 1979–80. The new plan adds more trees, opens up more of the space for public use, and gets rid of a massive brutalist-style metro air vent. The date for work to start has not been announced.

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Finally, Malostranské náměstí is to see big changes. Like Mariánské náměstí, it was used for reserved parking that mostly served politicians. The square was closed to parking in 2016, and events began to take place there. In the long term, the square should be repaved with yellow granite stones and a fountain should be built. Work was originally supposed to have finished in 2019, but so far has not started.

Raymond Johnston

Prague-based journalist with over three decades of media experience writing about culture, business, and travel. Folktale and legend expert, and avid photographer. Follow him on Instagram at @raymondjohnston4 or visit his blog magicbohemia.com.

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