Václav Havel’s 1989 campaign tram returns to the Prague Castle route

Tram 8085 will remind people of the legacy of Václav Havel and the first steps to democracy

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 04.12.2019 15:34:13 (updated on 04.12.2019) Reading time: 3 minutes

A tram once used by then-candidate Václav Havel for his presidential campaign just after the Velvet Revolution dressed up as a rolling gallery on Prague’s tram tracks. Tram number 8085 is painted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the last weeks of 1989, when the political direction of Czechoslovakia changed, and also 30 years since Havel’s candidacy.

The tram’s current art design is by Pavel Šťastný, who made the logo of the Civic Forum (OF) and recently supervised the painting of the Lennon Wall. Until the end of the year, the tram will run on weekdays as historic line 23 and on weekends as line 2. Both lines stop at Prague Castle.

“Exactly 30 years ago, a second large demonstration took place on Wenceslas Square and less than a week later Václav Havel announced that he would run for president. He had only 19 days to campaign, during which he became a strong leader of a new civil society and later a president known to the world,” Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said on the City Hall website.

Adam Scheinherr and Pavel Šťastný on tram 8085. via Praha.EU

“A part of Václav Havel’s presidential campaign was revolutionary slogans on tram 8085, which still carries passengers in the service of the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP). For 30 years of freedom, we decided to ‘dress her up’ again in her revolutionary garb, reminding us of the atmosphere of hope and unity of the day,” he added.

Over Facebook, he extended an invitation for people to come for a ride. “A few years after its inauguration, the famous Tatra T3 tram experienced the invasion of Soviet troops, where some cars even served as barricades for Prague citizens in the streets. At the end of 1989, the ‘three’ entered history again, helping in the Velvet Revolution in Prague. And now, after 30 years, the same tram is again on the tracks with original stickers. Come on!” he said.

City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha sobě) said dignity, truth and humanity are the values ​​of Havel that are currently missing in the presidency. “But I am convinced that from any power position these values should not be suffocated in civil society. In the 30 years of freedom, thanks to the Václav Havel tram, we are commemorating in Prague streets that politics can be done in a decent and honest manner and that it must not serve the interests of anyone but citizens,” she added.

The concept of the tram is to commemorate the moments that led Czechoslovakia and today’s Czech Republic to the path of democracy. “When designing the tram, I tried to keep contemporary photographs and added the logo for 30 Years of Greedom,” designer Šťastný said.

“The posters with Václav Havel and the OF logo were then all over Prague, and it was actually the first true visual of free elections. And this tram, passing through the center, was the first big mobile disseminator of election information. There was no internet and Facebook, so you had to experience it live or else you didn’t see it,” he added.

Inside the tram, passengers can learn about the celebrations of this year’s 30th anniversary of November 17. “The exterior of the tram is supposed to remind us of Václav Havel’s presidential campaign and there is space to show how we celebrated the changes that occurred 30 years ago. Passengers will be able to view photos from the six most prominent places of celebration —Albertov, Národní, Wenceslas Square, Letná and two parades — and read a short description of each organization and celebrations,” Lukáš Černý, chairman of event organizer Díky, že můžem (Thanks That We Can), said.

havel tram
Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr on tram 8085. via Praha.EU

T3 trams have been the backbone of the Prague tram fleet and have been in service since 1960. There are a few variants depending on when they were built or whether they were imported back from other markets and converted. The trams were originally built in Prague by Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk (ČKD). One was recently made into a T3 Coupé with a bar that can be rented for parties.

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