Prague Renames Koněvova Street to Hartigova: Signalling a Shift in Symbolism

Jan Handrejch

In a significant move, Prague 3 has officially renamed Koněvova Street to Hartigova Street as of October 1st. The new name pays homage to Karel Hartig, the former mayor of Žižkov. Prague city councilors decided to rename the street in June of this year, and on Monday, October 2nd, the first street signs were replaced. Alongside this change, residents of Hartigova Street have begun a period for exchanging their identification cards.

The renaming of Koněvova Street to Hartigova Street marks a shift in symbolism for the neighborhood. Ivan Stepanovich Koněv, a Russian military commander and Soviet Marshal, had been the street namesake since 1946. However, with the new name, Prague 3 has honored a local patriot and builder of the Žižkov community rather than a politically charged Soviet figure. This change carries both symbolic and practical significance.

The Prague City Council is overseeing the process of replacing street signs. The first replacement took place near Tachovské Square on Monday morning. In addition to the new street signs, representatives from Prague 3 unveiled a blue supplementary sign near the square. This sign provides a brief overview of Karel Hartig’s contributions to establishing and developing Žižkov.

The discussion surrounding the renaming of Koněvova Street has been ongoing for over thirty years, and the decision to proceed with the change has been met with mixed reactions. While the renaming may result in some administrative burdens, the value of the shift in symbolism has been deemed more important. Efforts have been made to facilitate the transition for street residents, and the process is expected to be successfully managed.

Karel Hartig, an enthusiastic patriot and a prominent real estate developer of his time, played a significant role in the construction boom of Žižkov. As the founder and first mayor of the Žižkov Savings Bank, he provided crucial financial support for the neighborhood’s rapid development. Alongside his contributions to the community, Hartig also advocated for the construction of a memorial on Vítkov Hill, honoring the Hussite movement.

For residents of Hartigova Street, there is a six-month grace period for exchanging their identification cards. The deadline for obtaining new IDs reflecting the street’s new name is the end of March 2024. Vehicle owners will also need to replace their small technical certificates, which can be done during special office hours at the vehicle registry office in Jarov. Both the ID card exchange and the minor specialized certificate replacement are free of charge.

The renaming of Koněvova Street to Hartigova Street represents a deliberate choice by Prague 3 to embrace local identity and celebrate the builders of the Žižkov community. By distancing themselves from an ideologically charged Soviet figure, the neighborhood aims to shape its future while honoring its past. The decision reflects recognizing the importance of symbols and their role in shaping our collective memory.

With the official renaming now in effect, Prague 3 has launched an information campaign to assist residents and stakeholders. Practical information and guidance are available on the district’s website, categorized by different life situations (residents, business owners, vehicle owners, foreigners). A toll-free helpline with the number 800 163 163 has also been set up to provide further assistance.

In the coming weeks, Prague 3 will also install signs with QR codes at bus stops along Hartigova Street, providing convenient access to the district’s information website. Informational video spots will be shown in Žižkov’s Aero and Přítomnost cinemas before screenings. Furthermore, the community plans to offer a virtual guided tour, allowing visitors to explore the legacy of Karel Hartig.

The renaming of Koněvova Street to Hartigova Street marks a significant moment in Prague’s urban development, signifying a shift in symbolism and a celebration of local identity. As the community embraces a new chapter, it remains committed to preserving its heritage while shaping a vibrant future.