Prague’s Kotva Department Store, a Soviet-era brutalist relic in the city center decried by many as an eyesore, has been officially deemed a national cultural monument, the Czech Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday.
Designed by Czech architects Věra Machoninová and Vladimir Machonin in the 1970s but actually built by the Swedish firm SIAB, Kotva may be one of the most unusual structures in Prague’s Old Town.
Kotva’s design includes a series a intertwined hexagonal structures resembling a honeycomb that reach five stories above ground level. These floors have included a diverse range of local retailers over the years, while basement levels include a large supermarket and parking garage.
At the time of its construction, the Kotva Department Store was the largest shopping center in the Czech Republic, and intended to be seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity in Prague.
For tourists in the city center today, it’s a stark reminder of the country’s years under the Soviet regime that also offers an unexpected benefit: a rooftop terrace that gives visitors one of the best views of Old Town’s tiled rooftops and spires.
Competition from the modern Palladium shopping mall across the street, which opened in 2007, saw a decline in Kotva’s prominence in the 21st century, though the addition of local retailers and artists through projects like Bibloo have given the shopping center a resurgence in recent years.
On Wednesday, the Czech Ministry of Culture unexpectedly announced that the Kotva Department Store has been granted the status of National Cultural Landmark, reports Česká televize.
The decision comes after Kotva’s second submission to the Ministry as a Cultural Landmark; it was previously denied such status in 2007.
Other department stores in the Czech Republic that have been granted the status of National Cultural Monument include Obchodní dům Máj, the site of Prague’s large Tesco department store now called MY Národní, and the Ještěd Department Store in Liberec, which bears a similar design to Kotva.
Earlier this year, the Ministry also declared Poliklinika Pod Marjánkou, a hospital in Prague 6’s Břevnov district, to be a Cultural Monument.