City Hall plans its own Covent Garden near Wenceslas Square

20-02-2019

The centre of Prague could soon boast its own version of Covent Garden as an expensive reconstruction project on a marketplace located just off Wenceslas Square is set to begin later this year. Prague City Hall says the target is to create a cultural and commercial hub in the spirit of other western capitals.

Covent Garden in London, photo: Henry Kellner, CC BY-SA 3.0Covent Garden in London, photo: Henry Kellner, CC BY-SA 3.0 Those who have visited Prague know that its scenic blocks often feature seemingly hidden entrances into extensive passages and breath-taking interiors.

One such area is Staroměstská Tržnice, a large market space located within one of the buildings near Wenceslas Square.

Currently housing a supermarket and shoe repair shop it gives a rather underwhelming impression.

But an expensive reconstruction project aiming to give the market place a new face is due to start later this year.

Councillor Jan Chabr who is in charge of the city’s property assets laid out his vision for the marketplace, saying he was looking for something similar to Covent Garden.

“We would like to take inspiration from other metropolises. Interesting examples are in Bratislava, Madrid, London and New York. However, we do not want a carbon copy. I think it should be a place that gives the centre of Prague a sense of uniqueness. There will be markets there, but also options for cultural activities and eateries.”

Mr. Chabr says he would prefer to entrust the running of the location itself to a private contractor, who would rent it from City Hall and be responsible for running events and overall operations within the marketplace.

Another option City Hall is considering is to let its own company Trade Centrum Praha manage the whole project.

The Councillor also provided details on the expected costs and completion date. “Right now we are more or less decided that the reconstruction will go ahead, specifically from 2020 to 2021, with the basics being laid out this year. The cost for the whole project is expected to range between CZK 250 and 300 million.”

Visualisation of Staroměstská Tržnice, photo: Prague City HallVisualisation of Staroměstská Tržnice, photo: Prague City Hall Who specifically will reconstruct and run the location is set to be decided in a public tender that the city will announce later this year.

One of those interested in revamping the location is Ondřej Kobza, who already runs a web of public spaces in Prague including several cafes as well as the iconic Lucerna Palace’s rooftop area.

He says he would like to make Staroměstská Tržnice a multipurpose space that would draw locals into an area normally frequented mainly by tourists.

“The main signature form we propose for this project is to make this a multi-functional space. One day there can be a concert there, the next day a big discussion, or a meeting of pensioners. It is right in the centre of Prague where there are many tourists, but few local people. I am hoping this project could redefine what a market hall is in the 21st century.”

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