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5 Must-See Sculptures in Prague
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5 Must-See Sculptures in Prague

Picture of Ieva Matiejunaite
Updated: 12 January 2017
One of the things not known to many about Prague, often considered to be among the most beautiful cities in the world, is that this city boasts many strange and slightly controversial sculptures, such as works by David Cerny which are both disturbing and thought-provoking. Take a look at these five frozen heroes of Prague and decide for yourself whether to love or to loathe…

Man Hanging Out

This unique sculpture, situated in Prague’s Old Town, is not easily noticeable, as it requires passers-by to look up to the tops of the houses around them. It depicts the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud hanging by a hand, pondering whether to hold on or to let go. It is an unexpected and eye-catching sight, though quite disturbing at the same time. ‘Man Hanging Out’ has often been mistaken for a real suicide attempt and has prompted calls to the Czech fire station and police. Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, which is now part of the Czech Republic. During his life Freud suffered from a number of phobias, including the fear of his own death. Artist David Cerny chose to depict the psychoanalyst in his constant struggle with this trepidation. The sculpture can be seen at the intersection between Husova and Skorepka streets.

Man Hanging Out
Man Hanging Out | © James Cridland/Flickr

Franz Kafka monument

This monument was commissioned by Prague’s Franz Kafka Society in 2003 and created by Jaroslav Róna. The surrealistic sculpture depicts a mini Kafka riding on the shoulders of a giant, empty suit. The image was taken from the writer’s short story Description of a Struggle, in which the author explores a fantasy landscape from the shoulders of “an acquaintance”, possibly alluding to a divided personality. The monument is located in the historic Jewish Quarter in Prague where Kafka spent most of his life, in the area where Dušní Street and Vězeňská Street meet. The place was chosen because the Kafka family once lived at Dušní Street number 27. Moreover, it is close to the Vltava River and an important part of the novel takes place on the river’s waterfront.

The Franz Kafka Monument
The Franz Kafka Monument | © Jay Galvin/Flickr

St. John Of Nepomuk Statue

St. John Of Nepomuk Statue is one of the 30 statues mounted to the balustrade of Charles Bridge that crosses the Vltava river. The statue represents the court priest of King Wenceslas IV. Legend has it that he was killed on order of the king because he refused to tell the king what the queen had confessed to him in secret. Touching the statue is supposed to bring good luck and ensure that visitors return to Prague soon. If you walk a few steps towards the Old Town from the statue, you will come to a cross with five stars on the left parapet of the bridge. This is said to be the exact point where the priest was thrown in the water in the year 1383. The story goes that five stars appeared on the surface of the water in the exact spot where his body was drowned. Here, you are supposed to touch the cross and the stars with your left hand and make a wish.

St. John Of Nepomuk
St. John Of Nepomuk | © Mohylek/WikiCommons

The Memorial to the Victims of Communism

At the base of Petřín hill, on Újezd Street, stands a group of bronze statues portraying seven broken, decaying men descending a flight of stairs. This disturbing procession is the work of sculptor Olbram Zoubek and architects Jan Kerel and Zdeněk Holzel. The sculptures are a memorial to the victims of communism in the Czech Republic. The memorial contains seven phases of a man living in a totalitarian state – from the first statue being a full man, up to the last statue where only a part of him remains. This evaporation represents the gradual physical and psychological destruction of humanity under a totalitarian regime. A bronze strip that runs along the center of the memorial tells the terrible truth: during the years between 1948 and 1989, 205,486 people in the former Czechoslovakia were found guilty for political crimes, 248 were executed, 4,500 died in prison, 327 died when trying to escape the country and 170,938 people fled or emigrated.

Communism Victims Memorial © Abir Anwar/Flickr
Communism Victims Memorial | © Abir Anwar/Flickr

Czech Musicians

In Sénovàzné Square in Prague there can be seen four bronze figures dancing around a fountain that inspire both curiosity and admiration: Anna Chromy’s ‘Czech Musicians’. The dancing statues all play different instruments and are blindfolded. They represent the major rivers of the world. The statue with a mandolin represents the Indian river Ganges, the statue with a flute, the Amazon river, the statue with a violin, the Danube and the one with a trumpet, the Mississippi river. The dancers are so expressively captured that it is hard to walk by the figures without stopping to admire their fluidity and expression – it’s almost as if you can hear their music being played!

The Blindfolded Musicians
The Blindfolded Musicians | © jmv/Flickr