Monday, 30 January 2017

Prague Landmarks #4 - The Metronome

If you are standing on the eastern bank (right had side) of the Vltava looking across the river and you manage to pry your eyes away from the view of the castle and cast them further to the right you should catch sight of the bright red Prague Metronome, high above the city on the edge of the Letná plateau.

The Prague Metronome was built in 1991 and is a fully functional 75ft tall metronome, designed by Vratislav Novák. It was erected as a permanent symbolic reminder of the Czech struggles under communism. Before its construction, the site was home to the largest statue of Stalin in the world,  a 17,000-ton statue of the Soviet dictator.

The original statue was blown up in 1962 on the orders of Nikita Krushchev and the remnants are reported to be buried in the pedestal under the metronome.

The story behind the building of Stalin's monument is as bizarre as any of the amazing tales from Prague's past. A Czech TV film (Monstrum) was being made about it and in May 2016 for a couple of days, Stalin once again cast his (much smaller) shadow over the city. It was a little disconcerting going for my morning run, crossing Chechuv Most, looking up expecting to see the metronome and instead seeing what appeared to be the return of communism!

The stairway up to the metronome from the bridge is fairly steep, and not to be under-estimated in winter when it gets quite icy. There are a few less arduous pathways which go up to Letná park, but whichever route you take, you get amazing views of the river.

Behind the metronome, the area has been adopted as a popular meeting place for younger people, and there are usually a number of skateboarders honing their skills amongst the dog walkers, runners and other less athletic folk! In the heat of the summer, there are a number of great little places to grab a beer in the park and cool down a little.

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