Early 20th century riverside oasis reopens in Prague

02-06-2005

Prague in 1910: thousands of residents from the city and its surrounding areas flock to the popular recreation spot Zlute Lazne, or the Yellow Spa. The resort, which gained its name simply because it had a yellow fence, was a haven and hide away from the bustling streets of the thriving city. But forty years of Communist rule and the devastating floods of 2002 left the 3.5 hectares of once green land stretching along the embankment of the River Vltava in very poor condition. On Wednesday, the newly reconstructed Yellow Spa finally re-opened its doors to the public:

Yellow Spa, photo: CTKYellow Spa, photo: CTK Female visitor: "I have been visiting the Yellow Spa for 42 years. I am 81 now but remember the days when I was still young. Before the Communists came to power, this was one of our favourite places. There were lots of flowers and the service was top class. There was a first-class restaurant and the famous Blue Café, which served hot coffee and delicious cakes. We played table tennis, swam in the Vltava and basked in the sun - it was a true spa. But when the Communists took over, things went down hill, especially when they allowed a car repair shop to open next door. Cars and dirty spare parts lay everywhere. And then, when the floods came in the summer of 2002 everything was destroyed."

Sitting on one of the piers overlooking the Vltava and with three beautiful swans keeping me company, I'm joined by Libor Votruba from the company Taiko, which besides organising Prague's numerous Easter and Christmas markets, has been investing in the reconstruction of the Yellow Spa:

"We came here a couple of months ago to a destroyed resort, mainly as a result of the floods but also because no-one took care of the area. So we built four beach volleyball courts, a football court on sand, several petanque courses, there will also be table tennis, and we have little boats too. We have also prepared a big area for children because it is our priority to attract families with children. There is also a garden restaurant with 2,500 seats and we have good beer too and a dancing spot, where we want to organise dance nights and more like traditional events that have disappeared from Czech culture in the last years."

I believe that one building that still stands since 1910 is the Blue Café?

Yellow Spa, photo: CTKYellow Spa, photo: CTK "Only the metal construction has survived. We rebuilt the rest and made a bar out of it."

The spa also has its own band, the Zlute Lazne band, which will be holding regular concerts at the resort. There will also be swing, salsa, jazz and other themed nights throughout the summer months. Plans are underway to build a 30m pool, to make up for the not-so-attractive muddy water in the river Vltava.

In case you're in Prague or are planning a visit some time soon - a day ticket costs 50 crowns (a little over two US dollars) and a one-year pass 1,200 crowns.

02-06-2005