The memorial of John Huss - Old Town Square, Old Town
Old Town Square, Old Town
A large memorial of John Huss has been standing in the centre of the Old Town Square since 1915 and it is one the finest examples of Czech Art Nouveau/Symbolist monumental sculpture. The idea to build a memorial for a national martyr in one of the most exposed places in Prague was conceived by Vojta Náprstek in 1900 who also became the head of the committee in charge of this project. A public collection of money and also a public competition were carried out with the winning design by the sculptor L. Šaloun. He started to build the memorial in 1903 along with the architect A. Pfeiffer, metal-founding works were done by Srpek company from Brandýsa nad Labem. During the times of its creation, this memorial was conceived as the antidote to the nearby Marian Column which was demolished in 1918 therefore the author made it a ‚flat‘ shape to visually complement the vertical column. The memorial may now seem as a natural part of the square and is generally accepted but in the period of its origin it stirred a much artistically, ideologically and politically heated debate. The piece was unofficially unveiled in 1915 on the occasion of 500th anniversary of burning of John Huss, an official ceremony was never held due to the opposition of the Catholic church and little enthusiasm of the Austrian-Hungarian offices who forbid the event (Prague citizens at least spontaneously covered the memorial with flowers).
The memorial has a massive granite base, the figure of John Huss standing on a burning stake dominates. There are six figures of Hussite fighters behind the martyr, on the left side there is a group of defeated people, going into exile after the White Mountain battle. At the back side of the memorial there is a family group representing the national revival. On the front side of the base there is a text engraved saying Love each other, wish truth upon everyone (a quote by John Huss), on the left side it says Stay alive, nation consecrated to God, don’t die (a quote by J. A. Komenský), on the right side it says I believe that after storms of anger are gone the rule of your things will come back to you again, oh people of Bohemia (another quote by J. A. Komenský), at the back there is Who are the God’s fighters and of his law (from the lyrics of a Hussite song). The texts were added to the memorial after the creation of independent Czechoslovakia, in 1926 decorative platforms for fire and railings were added.