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Photos of Prague’s Rooftop Creatures

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Like countless others around the globe, Prague-based photojournalist Amos Chapple has been locked down at home due to social distancing measures to combat COVID-19. And like many other photographers, he has been taking regular photo walks in his city, and one of the subjects he has been focusing on are the “rooftop creatures” found in the Czech capital.

A firefighter depicted rescuing a woman from golden flames on the roof of the old Prague Insurance Company building on Prague’s Old Town Square. The epic sculpture was one of the last works of Czech sculptor Bohuslav Schnirch before his death in 1901.

A woman flanked by two hooded warriors on the corner of the Koruna Palace, constructed by a life insurance company in 1914. The stone relief is by Stanislav Sucharda (1866 – 1916). The inscription below the trio is perhaps Prague’s oldest life-insurance ad still in place, it reads: “PROOF OF LOVE FOR THE FAMILY, A GUARANTEE OF THE MULTIPLICATION OF WEALTH, THE SUPPORT OF OLD AGE, ONLY WITH LIFE INSURANCE”
Morning light on one of four-winged female figures cornering the Cechuv Bridge. The figures, which hold gold-plated wreaths aloft, were made by Antonin Popp (1850–1915). After I posted this image to Facebook a follower pointed out that the writer Franz Kafka had lived in the building that occupied the site of the Intercontinental Hotel (directly behind the statue) when this bridge was being built. That is Social Media at its best.
Black babies clambering on the stem of the Zizkov Television Tower, the tallest structure in Prague. The 3.5-meter-long babies were made by contemporary Czech artist David Cerny. Each of the barcode-faced infants (yep, look it up if you’re not squeamish) weighs around 250 kilograms.

A winged figure on the National Museum by Bohuslav Schnirch looking down Wenceslas Square. In 1968, invading Soviet-led forces fired hundreds of heavy machine-gun rounds from the square into the museum’s facade, leaving it pocked with bullet holes until 2018, when the building was renovated.
Man Hanging Out, a 1996 art installation by David Cerny depicting Sigmund Freud dangling from a beam with one hand casually pocketed.

Two figures by German sculptor Franz Metzner (1870 – 1919) hold a shield with the letters WB, which a Facebook follower explained almost certainly stands for “Wiener Bankverein” (Viennese Association Of Banks). Prague was a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918.
A mysterious creature atop a residential building on the waterfront of Prague’s Vltava River. I never was able to find the backstory to this bizarre character.
A lamp-headed statue (modern Czech art can be weird) on the roof of the Deym Palace.
St. George slaying the dragon on a corner of a building on glitzy Parizska Street, near Old Town Square. I only noticed later the bum of a pigeon nesting between St. George’s feet, and a crow standing on his head.
Figures on the roof of the National Museum by Bohuslav Schnirch.
A stone man on the facade of the Adria Palace staring daggers at the camera.
A monument to Atlas holding up the “celestial sphere” atop the Clementinum, an ancient cluster of buildings that includes a working meteorological station in use since 1775. The Atlas statue was made by Matthias Bernard Braun (1684-1738), who also made several of the sculptures on Prague’s Charles Bridge.
Sculptures by Ladislav Saloun (1870-1946) on the corner of the capital city’s New City Hall. Saloun also made the famous memorial to Jan Hus on the Old Town Square.
The second figure on the roof of the old Prague Insurance Company named “call for alarm” apparently showing a woman and child alerting people to a fire. The sculpture was unfinished when its creator, Bohuslav Schnirch, died. It was completed by his apprentice, Ladislav Saloun.
A leering character overlooking the Vltava on the corner of the Czech Republic’s Goethe Institute.
Nike, the goddess of victory, shown driving three horses from a chariot on the corner of the National Theater. The iconic rooftop statue is, in fact, a copy of the original. Right after Bohuslav Schnirch completed the theater’s bronze sculptures after years of work, he watched them destroyed by a fire in 1881. The copies that ride above the theater today were installed on the repaired building in 1911, a decade after Schnirch died.
Sexual tension much? Sculptures by Ladislav Saloun on a corner of the New City Hall.
The Light-Bearer and the Lion, completed in 1898 by sculptor Antonin Popp and placed on the roof of the Czech National Bank. In 2019, a time capsule was placed inside the monument on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia’s currency, the crown. The time capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2069.

You can find more of Chapple’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Credits: Photographs and captions by Amos Chapple and used with permission

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