When you stand on a hill anywhere in Prague there are always a few buildings/structures that stand out – Zizkov TV Tower (affectionately known as the Baby Tower to many expats), Prague Castle, and the National Memorial on Vitkov Hill. Don’t know what it is? Neither do I. And neither does anyone else.
A friend who is going home soon wanted to climb to the top of this hill and get a closer look at this monstrosity. We decided to meet at the top…which I am very thankful for as I had to stop about five times on the way up the hill, pretending to nonchalantly stare at the side of a tree/heaving the freezing cold air into my lungs/staring introspectively into the distance/dying a little inside. First, it was almost impossible to find my way up there initially…I came from the wrong direction and was greeted by a very steep, slick cobblestone street. Cobblestone streets/sidewalks are slippery enough without making them wet from the snow (like paint in crosswalks/zebra crossings).
When I finally made it to the top….the experience was extremely anti-climatic. While waiting for my friend, I took a lot of photos and in the moment as well as retrospectively, they are all boring. At the time, I had no idea what the statue was representing…what the building behind it was…or why it was up so high. You can see the statue in the photo below. And how small the people are. It was giant…as were the horse’s private areas (I am remaining delicate for the younger/impressionable audiences). Personally, if I knew that most people would be viewing this sucker from the underside, I would have just eliminated those things altogether.
Also, walking up those stairs to see the statue a bit closer was very dangerous. I believe that the platform (where the people in the above picture are standing) is tiled – making for a veritable slip and slide. I think it took ten minutes for us to get down the stairs again. Overall, it was a slippery day.
(Below is a door – but I don’t think it’s really a door – depicting some scene that I didn’t understand… it was behind the statue)
Now to answer my own questions about this monument. The statue represents Jan Zizka who was the one-eyed leader (I don’t make this stuff up) of the Hussite Army. He defeated the invading Crusaders in 1420 on the very hill on which the monument now stands – Vitkov Hill. Fun Fact: This is the largest equestrian statue in the world. Oh, Czech Republic – you and your big things. The building behind it is the National Museum built in honor of the formation/foundation of the former Czechoslovakia. Inside this building are housed the largest organs in the Czech Republic. And again I must state: Oh, Czech Republic – you and your big things. Giant Babies. Giant Metronome. Giant Horse. Giant Organ. I can’t wait to find more giant Czech things!
(below is a random swing set we found in the park – part of me wanted to swing on those bad boys but the smart side didn’t want a wet butt)