Strahov Stadium – the largest stadium in the world

On the occasion of World Architecture Day 2015 in Prague, we visited Strahov Stadium, which is considered to be the largest stadium in the world. It occupies more than six hectares of land and boasts a capacity of 220,000 seats!

Czech art historian Miroslav Pavel, Ph.D., briefly described the history of the stadium’s location and its vicinity. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the whole area of today’s Strahov stadium was forested and not used. The idea to build a parade ground for members of the Sokol movement dated back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but it wasn’t realized until many years later.

The very first wooden structure was built in 1926. It had been designed by architect Alois Dryák and called „Masaryk Stadium“. Due to poor building materials, the stadium was unsuitable for long-term use and had to be rebuilt six years later. The current appearance dates from 1975, when the 4th Communist Spartakiad (mass gymnastics display) took place there. The 7th Spartakiad, scheduled for the year 1990, was cancelled after Czechoslovakia’s 1989 Velvet Revolution – a peaceful ouster of the communist regime.

Four years later, Spartakiads‘ predecessor, the Sokol Festival, which had been regularly held in Prague from 1882 to 1948, returned to Strahov. Václav Havel, the then president of the Czech Republic, delivered an unforgettable opening speech. He also invited the Rolling Stones to perform twice at this stadium. Other famous bands, including Pink Floyd and AC/DC,  have pleased the crowds of Strahov audiences.

Strahov Stadium is the biggest of its kind, covering an area of eight football pitches. Until last year, the site had been co-owned by three entities. Now it is administrated by the Municipality of Prague. The fate of the stadium is unclear. It could become very lucrative for developers. The stadium might even be demolished and replaced by a new housing project. There is a beautiful view of Prague Castle. The Petřín Lookout Tower and the Žižkov Television Tower can be seen from the bleachers…

The interior of the stadium is being currently rented to the AC Sparta Prague football club. In other parts you can find apartments, offices, a swimming pool and even a wine shop… You can also look inside an abandoned recording studio, from which Václav Havel watched the Rolling Stones’ gig as he didn’t want to sit in the boxes built for communist leaders.

On the opposite terrace, there is a lounge built for Gustav Husak, Czechoslovakia’s last communist president, who was in office between 1975 and 1989. Paradoxically, there are no windows in this lounge. Apparently due to technical reasons…

Text vznikl v rámci předmětu Angličtina pro žurnalisty pod vedením Mgr. Aleny Proškové.

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