Tough security checks at Prague Castle could soon be a thing of the past

The new Czech government is keen to make the nation’s most popular tourist attraction more easily accessible.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 13.01.2022 11:53:00 (updated on 13.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague Castle is one of the Czech Republic’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s the political center of the country and the capital city’s most recognizable landmark. Home to the Czech President, visitors have, for the last five years, been faced with tough security checks at entrances carried out by armed guards.

But this could be about to change. Vít Rakušan, the Interior Minister in the new government, has spoken out against tough security measures which he says make the Castle seem more like a “war fortification” than a symbol of national identity.

“Prague Castle is a symbol of Czech statehood,” he said. “It belongs to all of us. And we are not all terrorists, as we may now feel when we visit it. I have asked the relevant institutions to review all the security measures that have created a war fortification around the castle.”

The review of security measures at the Castle may prove controversial. Earlier this month, the Castle had to shut early due to a fake bomb threat. Making the 70,000-square-meter complex more accessible may be desirable, but there’s no question that the Castle is one of the Czech Republic’s clearest potential targets for terrorist attacks, directed either at the public or the President.

Rakušan described the current measures as “massive.” Whether or not requiring visitors to empty their pockets and put their possessions on a conveyer belt for inspection can truly be labelled in this way is debatable. But the checks do cause long queues at the Castle entrances and have a detrimental effect on the tourist experience.

Rakušan is not proposing the complete removal of security checks, only less stringent measures. The relevant bodies “will assess and comment on the necessity of the existing measures and possibly work on a new security regime,” he said.

Still, the proposal is likely to provoke a conflict with the presidential office, which previously said security measures at the Castle were introduced on police advice. President Miloš Zeman’s office last month accused two MPs of “spreading misinformation” in an open letter calling for security at the Castle to be scaled back.

The security measures were brought in following Islamist terror attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2016. But they have attracted mockery, with some claiming the checks were introduced as the result of a anti-Zeman stunt in 2015, which saw a pair of large red boxer shorts flown from the Castle roof in protest against Zeman’s support for authoritarian regimes in China and Russia.

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