(CNN) — Strolling across the Charles Bridge or having a dinner under Prague’s famous Astronomical Clock is not something most locals would consider either fun or bearable.
Unless, it turns out, they do it in the middle of a pandemic.
The restrictions on travel put in place because of the coronavirus have slashed the number of visitors to the Czech capital by more than 73% in 2020, according to the city’s official statistics. While disastrous for Prague’s economy, the tourist exodus was a revelation for many of its citizens who were suddenly able to reclaim their city and enjoy its beauty in a slower pace.
Prague’s historical center became livable again — and its political and community leaders are trying to find a way to keep it that way even after the crowds of tourists return.
“All of these beautiful places suddenly reemerged,” said Matej Velek. “All the glitz, the cheap, tacky souvenirs and the flashing signs that try to lure you to spend money, all this stuff vanished incredibly quickly once the tourists disappeared.”