Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Žižkov Television Tower

This rocket-like structure (which has a habit of ending up in tourists' photos whether they like it or not) is located in the neighbouring suburb of Žižkov, near to another colossal edifice - a memorial to Jan Žižka the one-eyed Hussite warrior, at 30 feet one of the tallest equestrian statues in the world. But the TV tower (of which we can see only the top third) dwarfs that statue by a further 680 feet.

Taller than London's Post Office Tower, it has been much criticized in a country which was 'monitored' for so long by the Communist regime, and understandably attracted many satirical nicknames. One is 'Baykonur' - after the Soviet launchpad in Kazakhstan from which Yuri Gagarin was hurled into space. Another, with more than a trace of double entendre, 'Jakešův prst' (Jakeš's finger)- a reference to Milouš Jakeš, leader of the Communist party at the time of the Velvet Revolution. This tower was a grand architectural symbol of state interference, electronically and culturally, in the lives of ordinary people.

Further ill-will arose from the fact that it was built on ground which is still partly occupied by an old Jewish cemetery. But despite rumours of ghosts and curses, the TV tower has survived, and has established its place in the guide-books. Not that the tourist board have to work too hard: in 2000, David Černý, the bad boy of the Czech art scene well known for his controversial sculptures, attached a number of black babies to the side of its columns, which have become an attraction in their own right. They're still there, crawling ever upwards -  in search, perhaps, of this spectacular view over half of Bohemia.

Today's photo was taken from Vršovice, whose roofs you can see in the foreground. These black-and-white images by Václav Kostlán show the whole tower at dawn from a very different perspective.

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