The first two hundred gas lamps in Prague lit on September 15th, 1847. Their number gradually increased, reaching its peak at the beginning of World War II, when there were about 10,000.
After then there was a decline, and in 1985 the last lamp faded out. Seventeen years ago, Prague decided to return to the romantic gaslighting at the historic centre, and today there are about 700 gas lamps. On Charles Bridge, the gas lamps are lit every year during Advent.
In Prague, the first gas lanterns were inaugurated in the mid-19th century, replacing the oil lamps used before. You could find them in Na Příkopech or Václavském náměstí. In 1940, more than 9,000 gas lamps were illuminating Prague’s streets and squares. Interestingly, they remained in symbiosis with electric lights, which appeared in Prague at the end of the 19th century.
In the second half of the 20th century, lamps were converted from gas to electricity. For the next seventeen years, the magic of gas lamps disappeared from the historic centre.
Was in 2002 when it started their gradual restoration, which has cost over 170 million crowns. First, nine lanterns were installed in Michalské street, Old Town. Gradually, they appeared on the entire Královské cestě. Nowadays, there are seven hundred lamps in the centre.
In Prague, you won’t usually meet a Lampman lighting up the lamps with a long pole. An exception is the time of Advent when you can see this, for example, on the Charles Bridge, being one of the capital attractions regarding pre-Christmas.
Otherwise, they are switched on and off remotely by a signal from the central control room at the same time as the electric lamps.
Because of the glass cover, you can recognize the gas lamp from the electric one. The electric lights have frosted glass, the gas lamps clear glass.
Prague is not the only place where you can see the charm of gas lamps. You can also find them in other capitals such as London, Dublin and Strasbourg. By far the most significant number of gas lamps in operation is in the western part of Berlin, with nearly 40 thousand.
The historic London is also illuminated by gas lamps, especially the area in front of the Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Green Park and the famous Hyde Park. They also appear in other British cities such as York and Horsham. Furthermore, gas lamps illuminate the historical centre of Zagreb, Croatia, Euro Disney, Strasbourg, France, Krakow and Poland.