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THE MEMORIAL TO EMPEROR FRANZ I

Old town - Prague 1

GPS: 50°4'59.16"N, 14°24'47.88"E

   You can find a calm place even in the busy Smetana Embankment. It is a small preserved park, dominated with a tower-like neo-gothic memorial to Emperor Franz I, with a working fountain. In Prague-literature the memorial is sometimes mentioned as Czech Estates’ homage to the Emperor, Kranner’s Fountain or Constitution. The reconstructed green oasis in the city centre, separated from the road by a low ornamental grating, was opened in this form on 29th August 1996.
   Shape of the memorial rose of the announced competition, which was won by a design by Czech builder and architect Josef Ondřej Kranner (1801-1871) and stone-cutter Karel Svoboda. The memorial, whose sculptural part was made by Josef Max and Josef Kamil Böhm, was unveiled on 30th May 1850.
   The fountain is formed of a polygonal basin, on the pillars of which there are standing figures, representing sixteen Czech kings. In the front there is sitting the seventeenth figure, an allegory of Prague with coat-of-arms. In the middle of the water basin there is looming an obelisk which is 29 m high. In the middle of the obelisk, which forms a baldaquin, there is standing 291 cm high riding figure of the man, in the honour of whom the memorial was constructed, of Emperor Franz I. The sculpture was made by Czech sculptor Josef Max. In 1918, after origin of the Czechoslovak Republic, the emperor’s statue had been covered in a cloth at first and then, in June in the following year it was removed as a reminder of the hated Habsburg monarchy. Fortunately, it has not been destroyed, but it was stored in lapidary of the National Museum in the Exhibition Site. The emperor’s riding statue came back to its site in 2003 and thus the piece of art has been completed. In the level of the statue, on four pillars below the tiny baldaquins, there are always pairs of allegoric figures. These symbolize peace, opulence, science, art, industry, trade, ploughing and mining. In four triangle gables there are placed Czech and Luxembourg lions, Moravian and Austrian eagles.