Trams to return to Wenceslas Square... Maybe

Wenceslas Square, backdrop to some of Prague's most pivotal events, is to get a long-overdue face lift and last week the city's Mayor announced more details of how the square would look.

Mayor Pavel Bem confirmed that tramlines would be re-installed 30 years after the Communists tore them out. Bringing back trams into Wenceslas has been a controversial issue. Jakub C?gler, the architect who won the competition to design the square, dearly wants them back saying they would transform the area into a "living thoroughfare." He?s at loggerheads with the council though as they are insistent the city's once famed boulevard remains a pedestrian only zone. The Mayor told journalists the tramlines would only be installed so they could act as a back-up in the event of streetcar failures on other nearby streets.

Wenceslas Square has become a symbol for the ruthlessness of the Communists scant care and attention for the aesthetic beauty of the city during the 70s and 80s. They tore the National Museum, the sqaure's crowning glory, away from the central area by building a ring road juggernaut around it. Since then, the area has turned into a seedy strip of neon nightclubs, strip joints, kebab kiosks and sausage stalls - a far cry from its inter-war heyday when it was a cultured, bohemian avenue of classy cafes and sophisticated restaurants and boutiques. The square has since stood witness to the defiant Czechs character during the Prague Spring in 1968 and as communism fell at last in the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

Re-construction work is planned to start next year and as well as reuniting the museum to the square, Ciglar's vision includes banning all parked cars, new green spaces, dealing with the clutter of stalls by phasing in a uniform style for them all, and, he hopes, once again seeing trams trundling up and down the thoroughfare.


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