Prague City Hall will charge admission fee for paternoster

The doorless elevator became a hit with tourists, but overuse and overcrowding led to safety concerns.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 15.08.2023 10:34:00 (updated on 15.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The paternoster located in Prague City Hall on Mariánské náměstí will no longer offer free access to visitors. The administration has announced plans to introduce a fee for tourists wishing to ride this technical monument.

A paternoster is a type of elevator that has no doors and moves continously, so people have to jump on and off. While existing ones can continue to operate, they can no longer be built in the EU. The one in City Hall became a tourist attraction due to a viral video. The name Paternoster means Our Father in Latin, as the cabins are linked together like beads in a rosary.

The decision to charge for riding the paternoster comes after a surge in ridership led to overcrowding and safety concerns. Dozens of people would line up to ride it, often ignoring the limits to its capacity and also staying past the top floor. The paternoster is not engineered to carry passengers as the cabin switches from the up shaft to the down shaft. The number of stray tourists also made it difficult for city employees to do their jobs.

In April, the city temporarily closed the paternoster for a technical evaluation and announced that new rules would be set up for its future operation.

The solution that the City Hall approved yesterday aims to solve the problem while keeping the paternoster open to the public. "The proposed modifications will allow people to enter for the purpose of visiting the paternoster, without disrupting the normal operation of the building as an administrative building," the approved document says.

New turnstile and a QR code

The paternoster will be separated by a glass corridor located on the second floor of the building. Part of the modifications will be a payment terminal and a QR code reader on the turnstiles at the back entrance to City Hall, located right next to the elevator. The municipal company Prague City Tourism is in charge of choosing the entrance fee.

One benefit will be an improvement of heat retention of City Hall in winter as the paternoster will be separated from the rest of the building so the chimney created by the elevator shaft will be minimized. The city will issue a tender for the modifications with an estimated value of CZK 2.7 million without VAT.

The City Council also approved the announcement of another public contract to restore the statues on the upper part of the facade of City Hall. According to the approved document, cracks and fissures on the statues create a risk of injury to passers-by if chips fall off. The expected value of the contract is CZK 6.4 million.

This is not the only site in Prague to suffer from viral videos. Long lines can now be found at the Municipal Library, also at Mariánské náměstí, with people waiting to take their photos in a tower of books. The tower, which gives the impression of being endless due to an optical illusion, has been in place for decades but recently went viral on TikTok.  

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