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Prague Bridge repair sparks controversy

03-12-2010 08:53 BJT


It seems now that not all renovations are welcome, not at least in Prague. Built like a mighty fortress, Prague's Charles Bridge has survived floods and fires over the past 650 years. But conservationists are warning that the storied bridge linking the city's two oldest neighborhoods might succumb to a different threat - renovation.

It seems now that not all renovations are welcome, not at least in Prague. Built like a mighty fortress, Prague's Charles Bridge has survived floods and fires over the past 650 years. 
It seems now that not all renovations are welcome, not at least in Prague. Built
like a mighty fortress, Prague's Charles Bridge has survived floods and fires 
over the past 650 years.

There is no question the bridge, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, needs a makeover.

The last major fix in the mid-1970s failed to achieve the goal of protecting it from the worst of the winter weather, and since then the Czech capital's rain and snow have left their mark.

Mayor Pavel Bem says the 11.7 million US Dollar renovation, commissioned by the city government, is urgently needed due to the bridge's "catastrophic condition" caused by water leaking into the structure.

But as workers hew at the massive structure over the Vlatava River with pneumatic drills, critics say they may be doing more harm then good by replacing many of the ancient sandstone blocks with newly cut pieces.

Still to come is the second stage tackling the most valuable parts of the bridge, including pillars, in a project estimated to last a decade.

Critics aghast at the harm they say already has been done are pushing for a pause so a damage control plan can be drawn up.

The company doing the repairs says only stones beyond saving are being removed and insists it is respecting the bridge's historic significance.

But prominent critics - including the Culture Ministry - question that commitment.

Nearly 50,000 people have signed an online petition requesting that work stop immediately until procedures are reviewed.

The bridge's construction began in 1357 under Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor known as the father of the Czech nation.

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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