Turnstiles have been installed at the service entrance to New Town Hall to increase the safety of both visitors and employees of the office, officials said in a press statement.
The new turnstiles can be found at the U Radnice Street entrance to the New Town Hall. Prague City Hall says the measure comes on the heels of increased traffic to its historic paternoster lift, which is visited by a large number of tourists.
According to the statement, “many of them [tourists] do not follow the instructions for safe use and try to go in drunk or with strollers.”
The service entrance, which is also a barrier-free entrance to the building, will continue to be accessible to disabled people for which additional staff will be available. Employees of the municipality will be able to access the entrance via a business card.
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Invented in the 1860s, there are an estimated thirty paternosters in Prague; seventy throughout the Czech Republic. The elevators derive their name from the way their cabins are constructed, a configuration said to resemble rosary beads.
Paternosters are practically obsolete throughout Europe. A European-Union directive bans the construction of new ones. The fact that the Czech Republic has retained so many of these old-school oddities is largely chalked up to the lax safety standards of the Communist era.
The New Town Hall paternoster re-opened in 2017 following a three-month overhaul which resulted in a new look meant to commemorate the historic elements of the building. At the time of its reopening councilman Jan Wolf said in a news release:
“The paternoster in the New City Hall is among the unique monuments of engineering that anyone who comes to this public building should try and admire. At present, there are not many places where a circulating elevator is in operation. I am very pleased that the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in cooperation with Prague conservationists helped prepare this delicate reconstruction. The result is truly remarkable.”
Other popular paternosters can be found in Lucerna passage and the YMCA Palace on Na Poříčí Street in Old Town.
In recent years the elevators have been popularized as an off-the-beaten-path attraction by travel guides.