To build or not to build? Plans for cable car across Vistula River strain tensions amid concerns it could devalue Warsaw’s Old Town views
Plans to build a cable car connecting Warsaw’s Old Town with the district of Praga-Północ have taken a step forward after officials put the project out to tender.
But the idea which was first put forward by the Head of Warsaw’s Office for Promotion in 2005, has already run into criticism, with many concerned it could damage the views from the capital’s Old Town.
The recent announcement by the district of Praga-Północ on the other side of the Vistula River, is a call for tenders for the creation of a visualisation of a modern cable car complex leading from Park Praski.
The proposal also foresees the creation of a cultural centre and viewing tower.
Announcing the tender, officials said: “A cable car line with a stop in Park Praski by a viewing tower, could not just be a place of tourist interest, but also a way of getting around traffic jams, using the quickest means of transport – 5 minutes to the right side of the river, with beautiful views.”
In 2012, Architectural firm JEMS Architects published a visualization of a cable car across the Vistula, showing glass capsules against the night-time panorama of Warsaw and connecting some of the capital’s biggest attractions including the Copernicus Science Centre and the University of Warsaw Library.
The idea was to go hand-in-hand with the planned development at Port Praski, but the plans were never realised.
Councillor Jacek Wachowicz from the association ‘I Love Praga’ said he believed the cable car would increase the touristic value of Praga-Północ.
He told RDC Radio: “Residents expect increased tourist traffic which will add to the community and local economy. Out task is to take care of that.”
But others have warned that the proposal, if realised, could interfere with the UNESCO World Heritage panorama of Warsaw’s Old Town, a distinction it was awarded in 1980 and that it could even lead to Warsaw being stripped of its UNESCO status.
Krzysztof Michalski from ‘Agreement for Praga’ said: “In my opinion the chances of the realisation of the idea are very small due to the fact that the whole area of Park Praski and the Warsaw Zoo are in the UNESCO buffer area.”
Tomasz Markiewicz, leader of the group ‘Guardians of Cultural Heritage of Warsaw ZOK’ told Gazeta Wyborcza: “It’s a good idea, Warsaw would have another tourist attraction and it would be a chance for Praga, but a lot depends on how it’s done.
“For one thing – we shouldn’t interfere with the view of the panorama of the Warsaw Old Town, one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world!”
He added that a better location would be the point at Karowa and Okrzei streets where a marina and Warsaw’s first waterfront are to be built. “That way, it wouldn’t interfere with the Old Town panorama,” he said.
And Conservator of Monuments Michał Krasucki told the newspaper: “If a cable car were to be introduced in the vicinity of the old town panorama, it would be a devastation of the view onto the Old Town and the escarpment, which was exactly one of the reasons for the addition of Warsaw’s Old Town to the list in 1980 – the view from the right side of the river and the Praga riverbank.”
The District Council of Praga-Północ has said that further decisions about the future of the cable car line will be taken after the competition for tenders has been decided and a visualisation realised.