Old Town Square monuments

Looking down at the Old Town Square from the Old City Hall Tower. There’s the Jan Hus Monument, and to the right is a pillar surmounted by the Virgin Mary. This is only a replica of the original, which was put up in 1650 shortly after the end of the 30 Years War, and torn down in 1918. This was when Czechoslovakia gained independence from the now-dead Austro-Hungarian Empire; the Marian statue was seen as a symbol of monarchy and Catholicism, things which should not be celebrated in this new progressive and democratic state.

Groups of citizens started the process of restoring the statue around 1990; it was extremely controversial and divisive, but the statue finally came up in 2020. The design is made to be as close to the original as possible, based on preserved parts as well as similar statues around the world.

It makes me ponder how religion and myth have been used at different times. Czech people were already questioning tradition, Catholicism and (by extension) the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself when they put up a monument to a proto-Protestant figure. They were happy to be rid of the oppressive Habsburgs when they took down Mary’s statue—or at least, the people who for an independent Czechoslovakia were. The same statue that (to some) represented freedom of expression and worship seventy years later after the Velvet Revolution.

   12 May 2023
   1/400s    f/5.6   28mm   ISO 100
View down on the Old Town Square