Missing links? Prague City Council has tried in vain to send sausages to the slag heap
Some of the lesser known, but nonetheless controversial, landmarks of the Czech capital’s most famous square are set to go as Prague’s city council seeks to sweep away the tacky aspects of Wenceslas Square.
The current roadside kiosks lining both sides of the historic boulevard — selling everything from souvenirs, snacks, drinks and papers — are set to disappear by the end of the year, when their current leases expire, following a decision of the council’s executive on Tuesday.
Six new kiosks will be commissioned and rented out by the city council to replace a fraction of the existing ones with Prague City Hall arguing that the change will give it greater supervision over the sellers, some of whom it complains are open all hours. Council leaders say the new stands should just sell “immediate necessities” such as papers, bread or flowers.
‘We want to start the revitalization of Wenceslas Square.’
What sort of refreshments might also be on allowed for sale is still being considered, leading some Czech media to speculate whether an unlikely comeback for the famously foul sausages sold to tourists and locals from kiosks as an immediate hunger killer might happen. This is not apparently the main priority of the new policy.
The clampdown on the current kiosks is a response to demands from local conservationists and retailers. Prague executive council member Aleksandra Udženija (Civic Democrat, ODS) said the move was part of long- promised moves to pimp up the square, so to speak. “We want to start the revitalization of Wenceslas Square,” she commented on Tuesday, adding that ordinary bricks and motor retailers suffered if a kiosk was placed in front of them and that pavements became congested as pedestrians squeezed through the constricted space left by the street vendors.
Wenceslas Square, the site of most Czech public protests and celebrations, has a more tawdry everyday aspect, with police seeking at the end of last year to move the homeless, drug users, and prostitutes who like to congregate there to the nearby central railway station, although they are presumably not in a hurry to go anywhere else.
British newspaper The Times included Wenceslas Square as one of Europe’s five sleaziest tourist streets in 2009.