PRAGUE – Municipal officials have let the leases on their stalls expire, revoked their licences and imposed fines, but sausage vendors in the Czech capital’s historic centre refuse to go away.
Stepping out into the bustling Wenceslas Square tourists hear the noise of the crowd, drink in the medieval architecture of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and are followed everywhere by the pungent smell of pork frying in stalls just steps from the statue of the Republic’s patron Saint Wenceslas.
Whether there have always been food vendors in the square, as some argue, sausage stalls have been trading for nearly a century. But this may change soon if the city council can find a way to finally dampen the brisk trade in what sausage sellers say is a Prague tradition.
“The operation of these stands is profitable enough that they can afford to pay the costs for such proceedings,” says City Hall spokesman Vit Hofman.
The municipality of Prague attempted to remove most of the stalls before the end of 2016 after their leases expired and would like to replace them with kiosks selling flowers, newspapers and baked goods. Though the current sausage vendors say it’s just a makeover.
“They want to close them by the New Year because of the renovation, there are going to be other kiosks selling the same sausages, only they will look different,” Natalia Pigaleova, a vendor said.
Prague residents are also keen to see the sausage stalls shut down.
“We are just writing letters to the City Hall and questioning, when and how they want to deal with it,” says Monika Vlkova, the Project Manager of The Association for the New Town.
Although residents and the city consider the stalls eyesores, the kiosks continue to attract many of the thousands of tourists who visit Prague each summer to see the sights and revel in the city’s busy nightlife.
“We party and most restaurants are closed in the morning. This is the only option for food,” Moldovan tourist Alec Aleahu said.
Story and photos by Ion Calcea, Emilija Gaivenyte, Alice Broster and Anna Sergeeva for the Journey: Journalism Bootcamp 2017 organized by the Bakala Foundation.