Žižkov Television Tower
Originally constructed as a communist broadcasting tower, the Žižkov Television Tower represents a time in Czech history where public opinions were oppressed through the usage of media and propaganda. The tower sits on the grounds of what used to be an old Jewish cemetery, but that was destroyed during and after WWII. Today, the tower hosts the infamous baby sculptures created by famous Czech artist and political activist David Černý and has become a tourist attraction for visitors in search of a panoramic view of Prague. With a complicated history, the Žižkov Tower is a unique representation of Czech history.
Backstory and Context
The tower was built at the location of an old Jewish cemetery. Established in 1680, the cemetery held the remains of Jewish people who died during that era, mostly due to the plague. Around 40,000 people were buried at the cemetery, many of which were prominent rabbis and businessmen. During and after WWII, the cemetery was unkempt and deteriorated. In the 1960s, the decision was made to preserve only the oldest part of the cemetery and to turn the other areas into a park. This small section of the cemetery is now managed by the Prague Jewish Museum and is a protected historical monument. It wasn't until 1985 that construction on the Žižkov Tower began.2 It is a common misconception that the Jewish cemetery was ruined specifically to build the tower; however, the land was already empty because a park had been created twenty years earlier.1
Today, some negative attitudes toward the Tower have shifted slightly. Many people now view the structure as weird and unique versus ugly and depressing. In 2000, Czech sculptor David Černý attached ten statues of six-foot babies crawling up and down the tower. These disturbing babies have bar codes instead of faces. Some believe that the statues represent that modern children are being raised by television and computers instead of being raised by their parents. Others believe the statues are more of a political statement about a country whose democracy is still in infancy. Whatever their meaning, the sculptures have been embraced by the public are now on permanent display at the towers.4 To add to the positive feelings associated with Žižkov TV Tower, the tower now has a viewing area that boasts one of the best views in the city, a bar and restaurant, and a one bedroom luxury hotel. Surrounded by a complicated past, Žižkov Tower has become a tourist attraction for out of town visitors.
- Willoughby, Ian. Zizkov TV Tower. Radio Praha. October 19, 2002. Accessed July 08, 2019. https://www.radio.cz/en/section/spotlight/zizkov-tv-tower.
- Purkrábek, Jan. The Hidden Cemeteries of Prague. Expats.cz. November 04, 2013. Accessed July 08, 2019. https://news.expats.cz/the-czech-republic/the-hidden-cemeteries-of-prague/.
- Czech TV tower loses its babies. BBC News. October 04, 2017. Accessed July 08, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-41502954.
- Zizkov Tower: Looming communist pillar with a Czech twist. Atlas Obscura. . Accessed July 08, 2015. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/zizkov-tower.