UNESCO praises new developments in Prague

Prague was in danger of losing its World Heritage status three years ago, but UNESCO has praised recent changes and improved communication.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 22.05.2022 09:58:00 (updated on 22.05.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Since 1992, Prague's historic center has been listed among UNESCO's World Heritage Sites of locations across the globe deemed to be of "outstanding value to humanity." But three years ago, the Czech capital was warned by UNESCO that it may be in danger of losing this status due to planned developments including high-rise buildings that did not preserve the cultural integrity of the city.

That stance may have changed, according to a report cited this weekend by the City of Prague. In it, UNESCO praises recent developments that the city has undertaken, including the new look of the area around the Florenc bus and metro stations.

The new developments around Prague's Florenc area, which are currently underway, have "the potential to better reveal the exceptional value of this part of Prague," according to comments from UNESCO's advisory board quoted by the City of Prague.

The new comments comes as part of a shift in relations between UNESCO and the City of Prague. UNESCO Director of the World Heritage Director Lazare Eloundou Assomo praised both the city itself as well as its communication with the cultural organization, which he called a "productive and open dialogue."

"We did not take over the relations between Prague and UNESCO in good condition," Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr, who is also responsible for monument care, states in a press release.

"However, as soon as the issue of Prague's relationship with UNESCO fell into the hands of our coalition, the situation began to change and we began to approach the relationship with UNESCO responsibly. It seems that our several years of efforts have paid off and we are starting to be perceived as a solid and confident partner."

Over the past three years, the City of Prague has developed closer cooperation with UNESCO than it had in the past. In 2019, experts from UNESCO and advisory body ICOMOS visited the Czech capital; this March, the city's deputy mayors Scheinherr and Petr Hlaváček met with the director of UNESCO in Paris.

"I am very pleased with the report. Reconciling the protection of historical values ​​and character of the area with the construction of new neighborhoods is a great challenge," says Petr Zeman, Chairman of Prague's Committee for Territorial Development and Monument Care.

"I am convinced that, thanks to a properly-prepared process, we've reached the best possible solution in the case of Florenc."

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UNESCO has long asked for Prague to submit planned developments for comment, but this did not often occur in the past. Upon submitting the planned project around the Florenc area to the World Heritage Center, however, it received a positive evaluation.

Prague's cooperation with UNESCO extends beyond new architectural developments, and the city works with the heritage organization in the fields of social and environmental sustainability, redeveloping public spaces, and responding to the challenges of tourism.

"It isn't always that we can easily agree with UNESCO. Sometimes it seems to us that their requirements are not appropriate to the specific Prague situation," notes Hlaváček, who is responsible for territorial development.

"The historical center of Prague and its protection zone is a lively city where people live, work, and travel - and therefore also needs to change so that it serves people well."

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