Even though there are 1,400 people working at the Czech National Bank on Na Příkopě street in Prague, this space is usually off limits to mere commoners. There are strict security measures taken at entry, so when the management decided to make the premises accessible on the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Czechoslovak crown, we couldn't miss it.
This event only takes place once in every three years. The bank just doesn't want to be subject to a security risk, plus they also want to retain this hallmark of exclusivity. You can only enter the building if you have a damaged bill that you are coming to exchange, and even then it's only into the large room just behind the security door frames.
The building is really huge, even the employees get lost in it. We were captivated mainly by the second floor that the locals call "the red carpet floor". There really is a red carpet in the corridor where the offices of not only the Bank Governor Jiří Rusnok, but also the other members of the Bank Board are located.
Right across from the very clean and neatly decorated office of the Governor there is the door to the conference room, where the most important decisions from the bankers are made. Such as mortgage interest rates, or exchange rates against Euro or the US dollar. Whatever comes up on the Governor's mind a couple meters from here is presented to the others in this very room.
It's interesting that no one is allowed to enter this room with their phone. If you by chance haven't left it at the office, you have to put it inside a security box located on the wall next to the double door. Simply put, there won't be a single word leaving this room and reaching unauthorized ears. Everyone has their designated sitting spot and when they want to say something, they must raise their hand, then switch on the microphone and speak. Their monologue is recorded and later transcribed by a secretary into a confidential record.
The vault is located all the way underground. It is no longer in use, so there aren't millions of crowns hidden inside it, nor gemstones nor securities. There is still something to be found there, though, and that is the People and Money exposition, and also a bar of gold.
says spokeswoman of the CNB Petra Vodstrčilová, adding that no one has been able to take the bar out of the box and squeeze it through the small hole yet. A regular person can barely lift it a few centimeters above the base with two fingers.
You enter this room through a steel door weighing 8 tons, up to 32 tons if the frame is included, and no one is supposed to attempt to close it. There is a specialized person for that.
The biggest draw of the bank is a golden coin weighing 130 kg that is 100 million crowns in denomination, made last year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the republic. Visitors could see it in a small hall throughout all of Saturday, and the CNB even came up with a way for everyone to carry it home, albeit in their phone. The bank actually created a 3D model, so that everyone can now study it closely and admire the work of the engravers.
The central bank has organized an Open Day for the 7th time already since its founding in 1993. Last time those who were interested could visit it like this was in 2016, when almost 6,000 people passed through the building.