A report in the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes containing details of plans to modernise the Prague Castle complex caused a minor stir this week. The paper claimed the plans included everything from new shops and restaurants to a hairdressers and even a branch of McDonald's! The article hasn't gone down well with the President's Office, which has accused the paper of blowing things out of proportion. Chancellor Jiri Weigl is the Head of the President's Office.
"Prague Castle is a complex with a thousand-year history, and it's had the historical luck that it was not demolished, destroyed. It was preserved in its complexity. Even the Communists did not dare to spoil it with some fashionable modification."
"I was astonished by that article, which misinterpreted what was discussed and what was said. We spoke to this journalist quite openly and we described our ideas, which I should describe very briefly as an ambition to use as much as we can the facilities existing in the Castle, for better services to the visitors. We want the Castle to be a place that serves both foreign and domestic visitors. Not an exclusive place that an ordinary Czech family cannot come and enjoy."
Mr Weigl says the existing facilities at Prague Castle are expensive tourist traps, making it difficult for the average Czech family to enjoy a day out. By turning disused buildings into a few reasonably-priced shops and restaurants, the Castle could cater to many more people - on many different budgets.
"Every year about five million people are passing through, and they should receive good quality and accessible service."
And no McDonald's.
"No McDonald's. Definitely not!"
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