Czechia is a very popular country for the people keen on history. There are a lot of castles, churches, old houses and other attractions, that can show how people used to live centuries ago. But the was another part of Czech history, when the country was under the soviet regime. And the well-known attraction of that times used to be the monument of Josef Stalin in Prague. Today we will look at it closer and discover facts about Prague pendulum or metronome and Containall project with bar and open air cinema.
Today in Letna park over the river and Old Town of Prague one can see a red arrow of metronome swinging from side to side. It is a huge construction with interesting story. And it all began over 50 years ago when Czechoslovakia was a part of a huge country known as USSR. Josef Stalin, the leader of all communists died 2 years before the biggest statue in the world devoted to him was erased in Prague.
It took the architects and workers 5 years to complete the project. With total weigh of 17,000 tons, the Meat Queue (that was a nickname of the statue) was unveiled in 1955. And it was not just a huge monument. There were designed rooms for events and for the museum. People used to call Stalin in Prague “The meat queue”, because of the composition: Stalin was at the front and all other characters typical of soviet architecture were lining behind him.
Stalin in Prague is the project of Otakar Švec, Czech architect who saw either Nazi and Soviet occupations. When the authorities opened the competition for the best project of the monument devoted to Josef Stalin, he decided to participate, but with no intention for victory. Surprisingly, that was Švec’s project that the judges chose.
That was the hardest project for all people involved into the construction. Being frustrated with such a project, Švec committed suicide just a few days before the opening ceremony. That was a huge problem for the Czech communists, because it could have been a scandal. Therefore they found a man looking almost like the main architect and made him present at the ceremony. That man also committed suicide in a few years.
In 1962 Nikita Krushchev, a new leader of USSR in Moscow, was doing his best to distance himself from Josef Stalin and order to destroy the huge monument in Prague. Engineers spent about 2 pounds of dynamite to blow the statue of Stalin in Prague.
Metronome or Pendulum
In 1989 came Velvet Revolution and a wind of change started to blow away the communistic spirit from the country of independent Czechoslovakia. In 1991 Vratislav Karel Novák an artist keen on physics and working with kinetic sculptures, planed and made a red metronome (pendulum) in Letna Park just at the very place, where Stalin in Prague used to be before.
The new moving monument meant to link past, present and future of the country and the people living there.
Stalin in Prague today
The place of former Stalin in Prague is today one of the most hipster places where youngsters get together every evening to skate, have beer and farewell another day. For me it is a symbol of Prague freedom. This venue is always busy, noise and interesting to visit, even if it is another hundred first time as in my case. And as a reward for climbing the hill of Letna everybody get a reward of a fantastic panoramic view of Prague and the bridges. This is one of the sport we usually visit with my tourists on a “Hills of Prague tour”.
Since 2015 the area around former Stalin monument became a popular local summer hipster venue with a bar, open air cinema and live concerts. The project Contailnall took over the place to support local young culture. And I can sincerely say, that these people are a huge success, because every evening youngsters from Prague as well as tourists get together at this place to party and celebrate life.
How to find
I will give you the directions to Stalin in Prague from the Old Town Square. It is about 15 minutes walk from the mail square. There are
- Find Pariska street, which starts with Cartier shop and follow this street
- Cross Cechuv bridge
- Walk up the stairs to Letna park.
Stalin in Prague is an amazing place, which combines history, culture, modern and daily life. At the point you can see both locals and tourists of all ages, which make it very special place. Personally I visit Containall either with my tourists or friends. What I like here, is the atmosphere, panoramic views, good music, nice choice of lemonades and friendly people around.