Prague - What many people have been pointing out for a long time is now officially sanctioned: Prague did a poor job in reconstructing the Charles Bridge, one of its most famous sites, and was fined 3.25 million CZK (130,000 EUR). According to the official investigation, the reconstruction that took place between 2007 and 2009 damaged the site.
The Czech Culture Ministry authorized the Plzeň region with conducting the administrative proceeding, due to the passivity of the Prague City Hall.
The proceeding is held since 21 January 2010 and the subject being investigated are Prague, the owner of the site, and Mott MacDonald company that was contracted to do the reconstruction.
„The most serious mistakes include not respecting traditional techniques of masonry, damaging stone blocks, excessive replacing of old stones with new ones, the use of inappropriate mortar, ruined pointing works, the application of modern materials that do not correspond with the national cultural site, such as for example plastic seal in expansion joints," the regional office stated in its decision.
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„The regional office imposed a fine that correspond with the significance and value of the Charles Bridge, a UNESCO-protected site," the Plzeň region's spokeswoman Petra Jarošová said.
The Prague City Hall's spokesman Jiří Wolf said to Aktuálně.cz that the city hall was not officially informed about the fine. „We have not received any letter yet," he said.
It was suggested by the Association of Heritage Conservation Professionals in April 2009 that the case of the reconstruction of the Charles Bridge should be looked into.
Prague fined by Prague
Last year, the Prague City Hall was fined with 54,000 CZK (2,100 EUR) for the mistakes done during the reconstruction. Curiously, the actor that imposed the fine was the Prague City Hall itself.
Jan Kněžínek, the director of the Culture and Heritage Protection Department of the City Hall, said then that the errors made were of rather formal character which did not caused damage to the site.
In February 2010, Kněžínek was charged by the police with obstructing the investigation, however he objected the charge. Kněžínek can be prohibited from exercising his profession or even imprisoned.
Kněžínek was accused on the basis of the charge filed by the Association for Protection of Cultural Heritage of the Czech Republic against an unknown culprit for the reconstruction works. The association says that no structural and historical investigation had been conducted before the reconstruction was started, and also that archeologists were not informed about the reconstruction project.
The case of railing
The association blamed Prague as the owner of the site, the city hall as the body responsible for heritage protection, and the National Heritage Institute.
The experts criticized above all the way the stone railing of the bridge was reconstructed. The investigation found out that some of the rare historical stones are not in the documents of the firm that conducted the reconstruction. In case of one of the sections of the railing that was examined by the inspection, as much as one fifth of the discarded stones may not be in the evidence.