Court rules that Prague Castle courtyard is private – not public – space

As the castle is a place where the country's president lives and works, it cannot be considered public, says Czechia's highest administrative court. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 29.05.2024 15:14:00 (updated on 29.05.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia's Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) has confirmed that Prague Castle's courtyard is not a public space. 

The ruling comes after a dispute over an assembly planned at St. George's Square, between the St. Vitus Cathedral and St. George's Basilica – the NSS ruled that the Prague Castle Administration needed to provide consent before allowing space to be used. The Kverulant organization, which seeks unrestricted access to the castle grounds, plans to file a constitutional complaint against the decision.

According to the NSS, the Prague Castle courtyard is “a protected space, where rules must be followed, and not a place accessible to everyone without restrictions." The court pointed out that President Petr Pavel often resides and works in the castle area, therefore disqualifying the courtyard from being a public space.

Public may still enter

The NSS confirmed that the ruling still allows the courtyard to be opened to the public under certain conditions. The court also said that the perceived symbolism and importance of Prague Castle may lead to the impression that the entire grounds are public, but that this is ultimately not the case.

Kverulant filed a lawsuit that led to this decision; it has been fighting for unrestricted access to the castle since the presidential era of Miloš Zeman. The organization wanted to hold an assembly at the Castle grounds, which led to the Municipal Court in Prague getting involved.

Back-and-forth legal disputes

The Prague court initially ruled in favor of Kverulant, stating that the castle was a public space and did not require approval from any administrative authorities. However, after appeals from the Ministry of the Interior and Prague Castle Administration, the NSS overturned the decision for procedural reasons. 

"We are disappointed by the NSS’s decision; we do not understand it. The way we interpret it, it means that Prague Castle does not belong to the people, but to the authorities. We are not putting up with this," said the director of Kverulant, Vojtěch Razima.

In 2016, under then-President Zeman, authorities implemented security measures at Prague Castle's entrances, citing the need to ensure tourist safety. However, under President Petr Pavel, authorities removed most of these measures, leaving only random checks and one security frame at each entrance.

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