Prague Metro Tourist Attraction: Go Metro Sightseeing
Prague metro is fast and frequent and also a tourist attraction. The architecture and the often striking designs and works of art in the stations make the network an attraction in its own right. The design and lay-out of the Prague metro is a spitting image of the Moscow metro. Prague’s first metro line was opened in 1974 and although the network in Prague is no match to Moscow, a number of Prague metro stations are well worth checking out.
Prague Metro Stations in the City Centre
A number of metro stations in the centre including Mustek, Namesti Miru and Staromestka have walls covered with square panels with round indentations. Each station has its own colour Mustek is yellow, Staromestska red and Namesti miru is deep blue.
Karlovo Namesti (Charles Square) station showpieces in the central hall a large mural mosaic depicting the life and times of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He founded Charles University, planned urban renewal and built the Nove Mesto district. Visit the permanent exhibition ‘Prague and Charles IV‘ in the Museum of the City of Prague.
Metro Stations as Art Museum
line A station Zelivskeho – mosaics
line A station Dejvicka – abstract plastics
line A station Malostranska – entrance gate with a gold-coloured key and sun
line A station Skalka – mosaic mural behind silver-coloured pillars
Communist Art in Andel Metro Station
Andel metro station was originally called Moskevska (Moscow station) and was designed and built in collaboration with Russian designers who also built a similar station for the Moscow metro, named after Prague. The station has a number of wall panels with typical communist themes ranging from world peace to cosmonauts. When the name of the station changed to Andel in 1990, these panels were removed. But after a few months, they were put back because it was believed that not all memories of the communist period should be erased. When you take the na Knizeci exit, you will see a wall decoration in the central hall with the words Moskva and Praha, a reminder of the friendship between Prague and Moscow
Metro Station under the Highway
If you take the metro to Vysehrad metro station, the metro travels through a tube hanging under Nusle Bridge, the highway in southern direction, a feat of communist-era engineering. The bridge spans the Nusle valley and was extensively tested to see if it could carry the weight of the metro trains. A convoy of Russian tanks parked on the bridge and then drove over it some sixty times. There were also trucks loaded with 3.000 tons of sand and gravel to test the strength of the bridge. The bridge was strong enough and the metro is still running underneath.
Metro line A is the deepest of the three lines, and many stations pride themselves in impressively long escalators. Namesti Miru station has the longest escalator in the EU; 87 m long with 533 steps. It takes 2 minutes and 21 seconds to go up and 2 minutes and 19 seconds to go down, if you stay put on the escalator. When a metro station is renovated, the fast escalators are replaced by ordinary ones due to an EU regulations.
The Well-kept Secret of the Prague Metro Network
All stations on metro line A have reinforced ‘secret’ doors that are resistant to explosions. Normally they are open for the trains to pass. but in the event of an attack on the city, these metal doors will close. The metro stations are then hermetically sealed bunkers resistant to a nuclear explosion and other disasters. The platforms and tunnels turn into one huge bunker and can accommodate 300,000 people who can survive here for three days.
Only deep-lying metro stations have this facility. These metro stations that have curved walls double as bunkers. These deep-underground bunkers are part of the Ochranny System Metra (OSM), the metro protection system. The OSM includes green line A from Dejvicka to Zelivskeho and yellow line B from Nove Butovice to Ceskomoravska. The stations that are not part of the system are too close to the surface and can be recognized by their straight walls.
The Mystery of Klarov Station
Klarov station is located between Prague Castle and the Straka Academy, the seat of Government. The question is: Is Klarov a metro station or an air-raid shelter? The entrance of Klarov is directly opposite the Straka Academy and closed off by a steel door behind which two shafts, now with steps, and probably intended as an escalator leading to the central hall. Nobody seems to know why this station was built or what it was used for. It was built between 1952 and 1959, when the country was still under communist rule. At that time the current metro network only existed on paper and became a project to be carried out from 1965. The drawings and map of the station are in the city archives are marked as classified.
Ghost Stations on line B
Hloubetin and Kolbenova stations on line B were ghost stations from 1998 to 2001. The trains slowed down when they passed the dim-light stations. These two stations served the industrial area of Vysocany. During communism the area fell into decline but after the Velvet revolution the area was revitalized and the two metro stations were finally completed. The Vysocany district is in full development and project developers are rapidly building an entirely new residential area.
Names of Metro Stations
Most names refer to the street or square where the entrance to the metro is situated. This is practical because then you know right away where you are.
There are a few exceptions:
1. I.P. Pavlova station may remind you of the name of the former Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. However, this is the name of the Russian psychologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, after whom Pavlovian conditioning; learning through association.
2. Mustek station connects line A with line B and is the busiest transfer station in the network. During its construction in the 1970s, the workers discovered a small medieval bridge. The remains of the bridge are incorporated in a wall of the station.
3. Jiriho z Podebrad station named after King Jiri Podebrad, King of Bohemia from 1458-1471 and leader of the Hussites. He negotiated with the Pope to conclude peace with Rome, which failed.
Old and New Names of some Metro Station
The construction of the Prague metro was a direct result of the increasing traffic in the city. The first section to be built was line C from Sokolovska, now called Florenc, to Kacerov. Since the metro was a brainchild of the communist regime, the stations were given names that reflected communist doctrine and ideology. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, thirteen stations changed names. The new names were used from February 21, 1990.
The construction of the Prague metro was a direct result of the increasing traffic in the city. The first section to be built was line C from Sokolovska, now called Florenc, to Kacerov. Since the metro was a brainchild of the communist regime, the stations were given names that reflected communist doctrine and ideology. After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, thirteen stations changed names. Name change day was on 21st of February 1990.
1. Devicka (A line) formerly known as Leninova, named after Vladimir Lenin former president of the Soviet Union
2. Andel (B line) formerly known as Mosveska, meaning Moscow
3. Hurka (line B) formerly Slovenskeho narodniho povstani, named after Slovak National Uprising
4. Jinonice (line B) formerly Smermova, communist era hero
5. Nove Butovice (line B) formerly Dukelska, named after the Battle of the Dukla Pass 1944
6. Chodov (C line) formerly Budovutelu, meaning someone who contributes to the development of socialism or communism
7. Florenc (line C) formerly Sokolovska, named after the battle of Sokolovo 1943
8. Haje (C line) formerly Kosmonautu, meaning Cosmonaut
9. Nadrazi Holesovice (line C) formerly Fucikova, named after communist era personality
10. Opatov (C line) formerly Druzby, meaning Friendship
11. Pankrac (C l ine) formerly Mladeznicka, meaning Youth
12. Roztyly (line C) formerly Primatora Vacka, named after important communist personality
13. Vysehrad (lijn C) formerly Gottwaldova, Named after Klement Gottwald, leader of the Communist Party
The Future of Prague Metro
Green line A was extended in April 2015 from Dejvicka to Nemocnice Motol, with four new stations: Borislavka, Nadrazi Veleslavin, Petriny and Nemocnice Motol terminal station (Motol hospital). Nadrazi Veleslavin transfers to the bus for Vaclav Havel Airport.
A new line is planned, line D with nine stations that will connect the city centre with the neighbourhoods in southeastern Prague. Line D will start at Namesti miru which will become a transfer station and will run via Pankrac which will also be a transfer station. The line, blue in colour, ends in Nove Dvory. Currently there are only only three transfer stations in Prague: Museum, Mustek and Florenc and when the new line operates there will be five. This new line will be robotic and will be without drivers. Construction has now started and the opening is planned for 2027.
Prague Metro has 61 stations and three lines. Buy a travel pass and spend a day exploring the metro stations, getting off now and then to see the sights and attractions at street level.
1. Luziny metro station on Line B and see one of the many suburbs planned and built in communist days
3. Vltavska metro station on line C for beautiful street art and graffiti
4. Vysehrad metro station on line C first you drive through a tube hanging under the highway and then you visit Vysehrad, the second castle of Prague.
photos: Wiki Commons and Marianne Crone