With a capacity of 220 000 spectators, the Strahov Stadium is currently the largest stadium in the world. It was built in 1926 to host specialized all-age gymnastics festivals known as slets. These activities were part of the Sokol movement, an organisation founded in 1862 in the Czech region of Austria-Hungary. The Sokol (meaning falcon) was based upon the principle of ‘a sound mind in a strong body’. Through lectures, discussions, and group outings, Sokol provided what was viewed as a physical, moral, and intellectual training for the nation. Though officially a nonpolitical institution, Sokol provided a forum for the spread of nationalist ideologies that brought about the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.
The original stadium was designed by architect Alois Dryák in 1926. The total stadium area is 63 thousand square meters, equaling approximately nine football pitches. At its peak, 16,000 to 33,000 people were being trained in the stadium with audiences of 137,000 spectators. During the Second World War, the stadium was used by the Nazis to temporarily host Jews prior to transportation. With the establishment of the Communist regime following the Second World War, the stadium was once again used for totalitarian propaganda. There the Communist party hosted regular celebrations of the regime called Spartekiads. These were mass gymnastics events to celebrate the 1945 liberation of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army.
After the fall of the Communist regime, the building was abandoned and left in disrepair.
There were intentions to demolish the stadium but these were eventually decided against.
In 1998, the City of Prague concluded a contract with the Czech-Moravian Football Association for a 50-year free loan with the Strahov Union, beginning construction of the National Football Stadium. Unfortunately, the project collapsed, and the contract was cancelled next year. In July 2002, a lease agreement was signed on the Sparta Prague Football Club which opened its training area with eight playgrounds and a modern office building in 2003. The stadium, which has relatively complex ownership status, serves a select few, mainly the Sparta football club. Since March 2003, the stadium has been on the list of cultural monuments but currently has very limited use.
The stadium hosted several concerts including Rolling Stones (127 000 people), Pink Floyd (115 000) or U2 (80 000). In 2017, a student Veronika Indrová suggested in her master theses to use transform the stadium into residential apartments with a public park in the middle.
TEXT BY BARBORA SLAVÍČKOVÁ
1948 Sport Stadium
2018 Sport Stadium
2018 The city of Prague
Form of government
1926 Parliamentary Republic
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
2018 UNESCO site, from March 2003