Prague unveils special tram marking 30 years since Václav Havel's presidency

The tram celebrates three decades of an independent Czech Republic and reminds people of Havel's efforts promoting freedom.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 26.01.2023 12:30:00 (updated on 16.02.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

A commemorative tram marking 30 years since the election of former President Václav Havel took its first ride after being unveiled this morning by Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib.

Havel, who stood for president on Jan. 26, 1993, was the first president of an independent Czech Republic and is attributed to being a key figure in the fall of the communist regime in Czechia. He was president until 2003 and passed away in 2011.

A sign of freedom

The tram, which was unveiled at Stromovka park, has an exterior that depicts the Czech flag and a message reading “Již 30 let” (30 years already). It also displays a timeline of significant Czech milestones in recent years, such as its entry into NATO, the Czech men’s ice hockey team victory in the 1998 Olympics, and its entry into the EU in 2004.

Inside, quotes from Havel are displayed throughout the length of the tram. “There is something higher than our interests. That is, the principles that we stand for” is one of the quotes exhibited.

A celebratory cake, in the style of a miniature version of the tram, was also prepared to mark the tram’s grand reveal.

The tram is part of the “Haven for Passengers” event that commemorates Havel’s instrumental impact on Czech politics and society.

Havel’s “opinions and stances are still up-to-date even 30 years after his election” Hřib – who was accompanied by Deputy Prague Mayor Adam Scheinherr – told journalists today.

Scheinherr said that the tram helps to remember, and pay respect to, the “solidarity and consideration” displayed by Havel – which, according to Scheinherr, is “somewhat disappearing today.”

Coincidentally, the tram’s unveiling comes one day before Czechs go to the polls in the second round of the country’s presidential election. Hřib said that he hopes the Czech Republic will choose a candidate that represents the country “with dignity.”

The Prague mayor told that the tram will operate on “several different lines,” starting with the same route ordinarily taken by tram number 18. Hřib says that the commemorative tram will be in operation for the whole year, during which time its routes will change.

Director of the Václav Havel Library in Prague Michael Žantovský told that Havel – who was born in the capital and lived there almost all his life – would not have anticipated or expected a tram being made in his name. He would have been pleased, however, given that Havel was a “big supporter of traditional Prague trams.”

A wide use of trams

Prague’s trams are often used as a means to commemorate an event. Hřib told that trams are very “Prague-esque,” and that a special tram was commissioned to mark Czechia’s Council of EU presidency in the second half of 2022. 

Trams in Prague have also displayed flags on their front in the past, for example on Oct. 28 to celebrate Czechoslovak Independence Day or throughout Prague’s LGBTQ+ Pride festivals, which occur every summer. Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, some of Prague’s trams have also displayed a Ukrainian flag alongside a Czech one.

Recently, the capital held a parade commemorating the historic Tatra T3 tram. Prague residents will also be well aware of the annual Christmas-decorated trams in Prague.

Havel and trams are two things that Praguers strongly associate their city with. With both combined, Prague’s residents will be able to remember the contributions made by Havel to form an independent Czech Republic today.

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