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This neo-Renaissance palace on Senovazne Square in Prague serves as a five-star hotel today. It has a long history, however, and during communist era it was used by the secret police for censuring peoples' mail.
The building was constructed for the Czech Mortgage Bank at the end of the 19th century.
After the WWII, in 1949, the palace was acquired by the Czech Post. The bank thus became both domestic and international post office.
[Jan Galuska, PhD, Head of the Postal Museum]:
"In terms of postal operations it was a strategic place, as it was located between the two main rail stations in Prague."
Apart from the usual processing, both post offices were also used for the illegal mail sorting and checking done by the State Security.
Appointed agents had been breaking privacy of correspondence in up to 10% of all handled letters in Czech Republic. Museum sources say the international correspondence was checked in all cases.
There is a Roman-spa-style swimming pool in the basement of the building now.
[Gorjan Lasarov, General Manager of Hotel]:
"The swimming pool, the area of the spa, is actually where the letters were being censored, you know, and the ones that can go and the ones that can´t go to the recipient."
As with the spa, the architects tried to erase the tarnished history of all the other areas as well while preserving features of the neo-Renaissance palace by incorporating new modern features and dynamic style.
[Stefan Gambacciani, Architect]:
"On these elements that without changing the identity of the place - that was very beautiful identity - but change the perception of this place. So we started to work with colors and with the light."
Apart from being a hotel, the building now serves also as a conference and event place.
NTD News, Prague