Beefed up security at Prague Castle is leading to long queues, as tourists are forced to wait to have their belongings checked by a ring of police, soldiers and Castle guards. The latest measures, which have just come into effect, are causing major disruptions at one of the Czech Republic’s top tourist sights.
The Czech Interior Ministry has announced a public tender for the development of an anti-drone (or drone-killer) system capable of taking out anonymous drones invading no-fly zones or other restricted areas. The deal, website Ekonomický deník reported, is worth 58 million crowns. To date, the Czech police reportedly do not have a comprehensive system capable of sending rogue drones to the ground.
Brigadier General Jaromír Sebesta took over command of the Czech Air Force on Tuesday. He replaces General Libor Štefanik who held the post for three years. The change of guard took place at a special ceremony at Kbely Military Airport in Prague. The air force has 5,400 pilots who fly Gripen planes, helicopters and CASA transport planes. They serve the country’s defense needs, take part in foreign missions and help out in times of crisis such as floods.
An auction of Prague’s historic Invalidovna complex with a starting price of more 637 million crowns has attracted no bidders. The site was built from 1731 to 1737 to care for war veterans. The tender on the sale was announced in June and drew protest from university academics who warned that the sale and redevelopment of the site could damage its historic value. Invalidovna was used in a number of key scenes in Miloš Forman’s 1984 masterpiece Amadeus.
The mayor of Prague 1 wants to ban the sale of alcohol in the night hours in the historic city centre as a way of curbing excessive drinking in the streets at night. Mayor Lomecky says there has been a significant increase in the number of young foreign tourists who get drunk in the streets and cause a disturbance. The ban would not cover restaurants and bars. There is already a ban on drinking in public in the historic city center, but the mayor says the police do not enforce it sufficiently. A police spokeswoman has rejected the claim.
Studio Znamění čtyr – Architects has won an architectural competition for the design of a new university research centre planned in Prague’s Albertov. The centre represents the largest university project of its kind in Prague in 100 years, Charles University’s rector Tomáš Zima confirmed. The university facility (which will reportedly cost some 2.5 billion crowns to build) is to be used for research in the areas of health, biotechnology and biodiversity and is to staff around 1,200 people. It is to begin operation in 2022. The runner-up in the competition was Atelier M1 Architects.
Security is to be beefed up at Prague Castle with the Office of the President to receive CZK 100 million to that end from the Ministry of Defence, Lidovky.cz reported. President Miloš Zeman said on Sunday that his seat, like other spots where large numbers of people gather, was a potential terrorism target. Part of the Castle’s Southern Gardens beneath the president’s office were closed this year as a security precaution, while airport style walk-through metal detectors are to be installed at the entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral.
One of Prague’s most impressive architectural secrets, the massive baroque Invalidovna complex in the city’s Karlín district, is up for sale. Used as a backdrop to many films, the former home for war veterans constructed in the 18th century had found no takers from various state institutions and is now set to go under the hammer in spite of protests from well known architects and the local council.
The inhabitants of Prague are signing a petition against plans to build a 60-metre wheel on the bank of the Vltava River. The Prague 5 district authority has already approved the project and signed a contract with an investor, but the plans have met with opposition from conservationists, members of the public and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová. Since Prague is on UNESCO’s cultural heritage list the wheel cannot be built without approval from conservationists. Over 600 people have signed the petition against the wheel so far.
Academics from universities in Prague, Olomouc, and Brno have signed an open letter to prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka calling for him to intervene and cancel the planned auction of the historic Invalidovna complex in the capital. The auction of the Baroque building is set to take place on August 8 with a state property body setting a minimum price of 637.7 million crowns. The academics warn that previous experience in Prague of protected historic buildings being sold and redeveloped has not been encouraging. The building was constructed from 1731 to 1737 to care for war veterans.
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