This historical sewage treatment plant is not an ordinary museum. Rather, it is an adventurous trip to the turn of the 19th century. Right next to the immense hall of the main building is the machine shop, four times a year witnessing the huffing and puffing of two 1903 steam engines. They are still powered by steam produced in the neighbouring boiler room. But it's the underground where things get really exciting. Down there lures a complex of clinker-brick galleries together with an abundant and well preserved machinery representing early 20th century's state-of-the-art sewage technology. For visitors this is a first hand experience. For instance they can try the crank of the sluice gate that once launched a large water wheel, thus operating the ventilation system of the underground facilities. Mobile racks combed the sewage to remove the coarsest debris, and a raft ride on one of the 87-metre-long sedimentation basins constructed to extract fine sludge highlights the proportions of plant. The hard work to run it is illustrated by the documentary "Men below Prague" shot in 1947. And if that's not enough the more intrepid visitors can climb one of the two chimneys towering 30 metres above the surroundings to abseil right within it back down to the sewerage.
Around 1880 the city of Prague had a population of more than 160,000 inhabitants, but it lacked an appropriate sewerage. No wonder that the hygienic conditions weren't the best. In 1884 the municipality tackled the issue by hiring the English engineer Sir William Heerlein Lindley. As a specialist in waste water handling he already had modernized the sewage system of Frankfurt am Main. Now he provides Prague with the most advanced sewerage in Europe.
The final part of this giant project completed in 1906 was the construction of the waste water treatment plant in today's Bubeneč district. Equipped with cutting-edge technology it made sure that Prague's sewage no longer entered the rivers untreated, thus raising the Czech capital's living conditions promptly. The plant's daily capacity of treating sewage water and feeding the natural water cycle amounted 120,000 cubic metres. The machinery was fuelled by two Breitfeld & Danĕk steam engines of 1903 that are still remaining in their original location. On special occasions like World Water Day in March, or the European Heritage Days in September, they are powered by steam to date which is unique within the Czech Republic. Further machines of the museum include several pumping engines of Czech origin, some of them used to dispose of sewage sludge, and mechanical racks to filter out leafage, branches and other objects. The largest part of the area is occupied by the ten sedimentation basins for fine sludge deposition with a capacity of 1,200 cubic metres each.
Large parts of the underground facilities can be visited on a guided tour. A permanent exhibition on sewage treatment and two documentaries illuminate the historical and technical background. The mechanical treatment plant worked until 1967 and was formally designated a historic landmark in 1991. Stará Čistírna is Europe's only living example of a mechanical waste water treatment plant at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries which is that well preserved and open to visitors.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||80 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
Monday - Friday: tours at 11am and 2pm
weekends: tours at 10am, 12am, 2pm, 4pm