Looming communist pillar with a Czech twist.
The Žižkov television tower pierces over 700 feet into the air above the winding and charming streets of Prague. It is oddly phallic and looks something like a NASA project placed arbitrarily on the outskirts of Central Europe’s most treasured city. It was once considered one of the ugliest buildings in the world, and now holds the distinction of being one of the weirdest. It even made a daunting guest appearance in the movie Blade II.
In 2000, rogue Czech sculptor and artist David Černý, who made his reputation protesting the late Soviet communism that controlled the Czech Republic until 1989, attached giant crawling babies onto the side of the tower.
Indeed, Černý mounted gigantic metallic babies with bar codes instead of faces onto the tower high above the traditional cityscape. Whether the people of Prague considered the tower grotesque art, or a political statement in a country where democracy was still in its infancy, the babies stuck. After being removed in 2017 due to structural concern, replicas of the infants became a permanent feature of the space age tower due to popular demand in 2019.
From the bottom of the tower, the babies seem tiny. However, in reality, they are well over six feet in height. Their faces are without features and instead fold into a type of bar code jutting out from their large smooth heads. Overall, ten babies were placed on all sides of the giant tubes that comprise the entire Žižkov Tower, and they scale toward the lower observatory decks of the structure.
This style of baby sculpture had been a Černý staple for years prior to his addition to the Žižkov Tower. In fact, Černý had even debuted the babies in Chicago at an exhibition of Eastern European Art in 1995. Nonetheless, the tower stands as one of the artist’s most impressive and massive works of art in the city. Visitors to Prague should also check out some of Černý other works, including an upside-down horseman, which are present throughout much of the city.
Truly one of the most spectacular sites in Prague, as well as the highest structure, the tower also provides incredible panoramic views of the city from its observation deck located over 300 feet off the ground. Currently the tower has gotten a sort of face-lift and has added a restaurant, and a luxury hotel apartment with an amazing view. The once barren platform area now hosts a mini-golf course. At night the tower is illuminated with different theme colors - usually the white, red, and blue national colors of the Czech Republic.
For those who want a closer look or even to climb on top of one of the David Černý babies, a replica is on display outside of the Kampa Museum in Prague.
Know Before You Go
Near the Jiriho z Podebrad metro stop in Prague.
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