Go to contents

Prague under Repair

Posted October. 07, 2002 22:38,   


I went to the “Old Town Square,” one of the world’s cultural heritage sites designated by UNESCO. The 15th century “Astronomical Clock” that the media reported during the flooding as “Hands of the clock stood still,” was running as usual after escaping the close call. The clock sent away the beautiful sound of the bells every one hour, and travelers rushed to the site like children.

The Old Town remained intact in much part thanks to the desperate effort by people of Prague to save the place – people were busy piling up sandbags as River Vltava reached its highest level. The Gunpowder Tower of Gothic style was standing as tall as before.

I walked about ten minutes to Charles Bridge as the road for vehicles was blocked in the area. Walking along the street leading to the bridge, I found a couple of repair sites.

Charles Bridge, one of the city’s most beloved tourist attractions, was also spared flood damage. 30 Baroque-style statues lined with the both sides of the bridge were still there. And the area, once off-limit site after the flooding, was crowded with tourists and merchants.

When I visited the bridge on Oct. 3, a repair work was underway for Ibo Statue on the left end side near the Old Town.

One of the hard-hit areas was Kampa located alongside the Vltava’s passage. Flooding water, which broke into the first floor of Kampa Museum, destroyed some $32,000 worth of large chairs. Clementinum, a 16th-century architecture, was also damaged. Ancient books and documents stored in the ground floor were soaked with the waters. They said the books and documents were removed to another place for restoration.

Wall paintings from the 14th century Renaissance Age also needed repainting in some parts, while scores stored in auditorium Rudolphenum in the basement floor were also damaged.

Most of the 12 bridges passing across the Vltava, except four to five currently under repair work, were open to travelers. Subways in the downtown of the city were still paralyzed, however, with cordons blocking access to each entrance.

“We could not do nothing about flooding, the force of nature, but what happened to subway stations is a manmade disaster,” fumed Eva Madofkova, a 32-year-old woman living in the area. She pointed out that the authorities failed to check the waterproof walls, causing the massive destruction.

“Damage caused by the flooding, including property damage and losses in tourism industry, is estimated to reach $20 to $30 million, about 5% of this year’s export target,” said the Czech Embassy to Korea.

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com