With such a rich, tumultuous history, it’s no wonder Prague is home to a number of equally insane works of art.
Seriously, from whose imagination did these weirdly intense statues appear? (Cerny, usually, but we’ll get to that).
It’s likely you’ll just stumble upon these on your wanderings about the city. I did next-to-no research on the art about town and was happily shocked at every turn.
On that note here are, in a very particular order (ranked according to my unquestionably great taste), the top eight statues you have to see in Prague and where you can find them:
1. The Pregnant Lady
Some people claim to remember life before they were born. Their last moments in the womb before they were delivered screaming into the world. But if you aren’t one of these fibbers – sorry for the heavy scepticism – then you can have an almost-similar experience in David Černý‘s pregnant lady sculpture.
Aside from being one eye-catching, giggle-inducing artwork, the piece, titled In Utero, also allows passers-by to climb inside the metal womb to experience life within – incredible.
Where to find it: Dlouha 12, Staré Město
Update: As of 2017, this seems to have been removed.
2. The Dripstone Wall/The Grotto
Though this is not a statue by any means, the eerie Dripstone Wall hidden with the gardens of the Wallenstein Palace is certainly one epic sculpture to behold.
From afar, the dripstone wall looks to be a strange mess of dripping stalactites. Upon closer inspection, and I mean really closely staring, smiling faces and terrifying creatures will start to appear amongst the grey.
Also known simply as The Grotto, the wall sits in stark contrast to the grandeur of the palace and it’s bright, peacock-filled gardens.
Where to find it: Valdštejnský palác (Wallenstein Palace), Malá Strana, Praha 1
3. The Barcode Babies
If the thought of children scares you as much as they do me, then Prague’s Žižkov TV Tower will send you screaming in the other direction.
In another Černý piece, ten barcode-faced babies crawl up and down the 216 metre-tall tower, and are thus able to terrify people from miles away. Cheers, mate.
The quirky design of the TV tower itself is standard for it’s Communist-Era time and many are convinced that part of its purpose was to block the signal of any Western transmissions. The featureless faces of the crawlers have been interpreted as a representation of this repressive part of Prague’s history.
Where to find it: Žižkov television tower, Mahlerovy sady 1, Praha 3
4. The Broken Men
Prague’s Communist past clearly runs deep through the city and its residents and it is often the subject of the street art.
This evocative piece by Olbram Zoubek is yet another and is aptly titled Memorial to the Victims of Communism, although it is usually known simply as The Broken Men.
It recognises those political prisoners and everyday citizens who were slowly “ruined by the totalitarian despotism” of the Communist era.
Where to find it: Petřín hill, Újezd Street, Malá Strana
5. The Kafka Tribute
Here, perched on the shoulders of an empty suit and standing tall in the streets of Staré Město, is novelist Franz Kafka.
Arguably one of Prague’s most famous exports, Kafka posthumously became a huge influence on the artists and philosophers of the 20th Century.
Installed in 2003 by sculptor Jaroslav Róna, the giant artwork is said to be inspired by Kafka’s surreal short story Description Of A Struggle. In the piece, one of Kafka’s earliest, the narrator rides his companion like a horse across a landscape that changes with his every desire.
The Dancing Building is far from the Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture that dominates the city.
The unusual sight was originally nicknamed Fred and Ginger (after the iconic Hollywood duo) but the name was later ditched to avoid positive associations with the States.
And, while not technically a sculpture or statue, it makes it onto this list as an incredibly creative work of art in it’s own right.
But sadly, it houses a Dutch insurance company and not an international school of musicals. Boo.
Where to find it: Rašínovo nábřeží 80, Praha 2
7. The St John Statue
The Charles Bridge is renowned for it’s line-up of historical figures full of those lucky body parts that you must rub as you pass. For good fortune or something.
But the most unusual statue by far was this haloed dude, also known as St. John of Nepomuk. The martyr was apparently thrown into the Vltava River (the water which the bridge crosses) in 1383 for getting it on with the King’s lady friend.
Sculpted in the 17th Century, it is thought to be the statue upon which all others across Europe are based. And, interestingly, a cult of sorts has popped up around the figure. If you can unscramble this religious jargon, you’ll be a bit more informed about its origins than I am.
Where to find it: North side, Charles Bridge, Praha 1
8. The Czech Flag
Our lovely free tour guide walked us past the thing (yes, I’m sticking to this term) and said it was his favourite in the city, somehow reminding him of an octopus.
Not sure why an octopus would have 1938-1945 attached to it. Maybe it saved a small town from the horrors of the Nazi occupation and is heralded a hero?
Whatever he thought, I can tell you now that it is in fact a flowing Czech flag which acts the Memorial of the Second Resistance Movement.
According to Wikipedia, the inscription reads, “stay a moment in respect for the victims and winners of the Second resistance of the Czech nation for liberty of the homeland.”
Where to find it: Near the Malostranská tram stop
And there you have it. Some of these you may have known. Others maybe not. I tried to steer away from just listing all of Cerny’s work, though it is by far the most bizarre.
Have you been to Prague? Which statues did you love or even hate? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!