Friday, 18 December 2009

Bust of Karel Sladkovský

Many buildings in Prague carry busts of celebrated writers, musicians, scientists and actors.  Often there is a particular association between the person and the place itself.  On other occasions, the memorial is a reminder of a national celebrity. One such was Karel Sladkovský, leader of the so-called 'Young Czechs', who inspired his followers in seeking greater autonomy from the Austro-Hungarian empire in the years preceding World War I.

A luminary of the Revival years, firebrand editor and lawyer, it was Sladkovský who laid the foundation stone of Prague’s National Theatre in 1868. Uniting art, literature and architecture in an act of great public generosity, this building is the greatest example of the flowering of Prague's cultural garden. Above its stage is picked out in gold the motto of revolutionary thinkers like Sladkovský - the precursor of Masaryk and Havel: ‘Národ Sobĕ’ – ‘The Nation Unto Itself’.

Sladkovský's memorial appears here in Vršovice at the corner of Cernomořská (Black Sea Street) and Sevastopolská (Sebastopol Street). In a few weeks' time, the building will become home to yet another of the neighbourhood's burgeoning coffee houses, the Cafe Sladkovský, and its guiding genius will be there to preside over the auspicious occasion.  I hope to be there too to bring you some pictures.

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