07 November 2011

Letná Park: History, HIStory, and the passage of time

As one of Prague's few open spaces, and with a location overlooking the city, Letná Park (and its adjacent plain) has hosted some of the city's most memorable events. From the coronation of Czech king Přemysl Otakar II in 1261, to the annual May Day parades during the Communist era, to the construction and implosion of the world's largest Stalin statue, to the massive and life-altering Velvet Revolution rallies in November 1989 that helped end the Communist era, to Michael Jackson opening his 1996 world tour in front of more than 120,000 fans there, Letná Park has been a witness to history (as well as HIStory).

And if you're not into history, well, there is this:

The second bridge you see is the Charles. That building is the Ministry of Interior
Strakova akademie, the seat of the Czech government. The balloon is part of the Kafka Museum.

City of 1,000 Spires. Go on, count them.

The park covers 25 hectares and  includes a Baroque-style pavilion/restaurant, a beer garden, playgrounds,  and plenty of pathways for strolling or jogging. But it is perhaps best known for its 25-meter-high metronome, which has rested at its home on a giant, graffiti-filled stone pavilion since 1991. The metronome stands on the spot of the former Stalin Monument, the world's largest statue to honor the Generalissimus at 15.5 meters in height and 22 meters in length. When the Czechoslovakians weren't ridiculing the statue as "men lining up for meat," they were flat-out despising it, and the monument was blown up in 1962, seven years after it was finished.

I've tried to figure out the symbolism behind the metronome. But after reading a translated version of this article and asking some Czech people I know, the best I can come up with is that it (a) symbolizes passing time and (b) is not a massive statue of a despot.

That egg-shaped thingy  isn't normally on the metronome. No idea why it was there.
For more photos of Letná Park (as well as a TV tower with crawling baby statues on it), click here. And stay tuned for a more in-depth story behind the making of the Stalin monument and the tragic aftermath of those involved in it.

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