Prague has long an uneasy relationship with monuments to its history – but 30 years since the fall of the communist regime, that could be about to change
I used to think the saddest place in Prague was a prospect high above the Vltava River. It is a peaceful though somewhat neglected spot, buttressed by granite ramparts covered with graffiti and popular with families out for a stroll, skateboarders, joggers and tourists taking selfies against the backdrop of the city. At its centre is a gently mounded plateau, empty except for a giant metronome, soon to be taken down.
The area has no name on current maps of Prague, but it was once known, in popular parlance, as “U Stalina” – Stalin’s place. In 1955, two years after the Soviet dictator’s death, a massive 50-foot high granite monument to him was unveiled on this spot, the largest representation of Stalin in the world. Commissioned in the late 1940s when Czechoslovakia was being turned into a Soviet satellite state, and already under construction as Stalin lay dying, the monstrous memorial remained in place until 1962 when, in the spirit of de-Stalinisation, it was blown to smithereens by the same regime that erected it.