Thursday, April 02, 2009

President Obama's Prague Speech Spot

...or, the Prague square soon to be seen round the world

This weekend, President Obama is stopping off in Prague to deliver his only public speech during his current European visit. His trip is a big deal for the Czech Republic, and already you can hear the helicopters making their practice swoops over our roofs. The U.S. embassy has cranked out its warden messages, Facebook notes, and website notices to the thousands of people who want to come to see him speak, and anyone living along the main road from the airport to downtown knows that they have to keep their windows closed, and cars should probably avoid the avenue altogether.

But if you are a resident of a country that does not sing "Kde domov můj?" at its hockey games, or drink pilsner as if it were the local ice tea, you may be wondering where exactly the President's people have chosen to have him speak, and perhaps, why?

Sunday, April 5th, at 10:00 a.m. President Obama will speak at the castle end of Hradčanské náměstí, or Hradčany Square. Pronounced h-rad-chan-skeh nam-yes-tee, Hradčanské náměstí is a long, narrow square just beyond the Prague Castle's main gates. It isn't by any means the largest square in Prague, but it has the advantage of being surrounded by buildings that are mainly museums or government buildings, the roads approaching it are easily secured, and it has a spectacular view of the castle behind it.

I thought you might be interested in seeing what the square looks like on a normal day, when perhaps thirty people are out and about on its pavement and greens, rather than thirty thousand. Please note the very vigorous guard holding a club over the right side of the gate, and his slightly stiffer, yet live, counterparts in the sentry boxes beneath him.

Edited to add: Here is a photo of Saturday's view of the Square. The guards still stand in their boxes, and I wonder if they will also be there for the speech? (Note from Monday: The guards stood sentry the entire time, even when they were behind the stage.)


lizardek said...

Fun to be there, but also a pain I bet, for residents!

Ellen said...

Awaiting your Obama speech update!!!

Lucy said...

I hope he gave you a personal thank you for all that Democrats Abroad stuff you did...

Julia said...

Liz - it was so worth it. And traffic today was not bad at all, only the trams were crowded with people heading to the castle.

E - tomorrow!

Lucy - he thanked another DA person and pointed to her during his speech, but for us our thrill was when he waved to Caroline. We were one row too far back to shake his hand.

Kristin said...

Hi Julia from a fellow Dem Abroad who was there from Vienna. Here is a bit about my experience blogged by a friend in NYC:

Julia said...

Hi Kristin! I just saw the post, and realized that we both know Dave. Small world truly. (And I was at Jama too, I'm sorry I didn't find your table and meet ya'll!)

Kristin said...

We actually met Kathleen at Jama's for the first time. But it was fun to be there with K and D for THE event.

Maybe we can catch each other next time I am in Prague - I myy be coming this Sept/Oct if not sooner.

Cheers - enjoy the spring weather!