City won't allow return of Marian column

The long effort to replace a column on Old Town Square has had setback

A replica of a Marian column is not going to be placed back on Old Town Square. City Hall has voted to take steps to terminate its contractual obligations and to withdraw permission for the replica to be put back on the original location. A mob destroyed the original column on Nov. 3, 1918, shortly after Czechoslovakia became independent. The column had been on the square since 1650.

City Councilor Lukáš Kaucký (ČSSD) said that the capital will not accept a copy of the Marian column as a gift, according to daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

The Prague 1 district gave permission for the column to be put in the square in July. But several groups appealed the decision. A petition calling for the restoration of the monument had 15,000 signatures, and the one against it had more than 1,000 signatures.

The July decision to accept the column was justified by the column having a long and verifiable place on the square. The city's Department of Monument Care issued a favorable decision on restoring the column in 2014.

The opponents of replacing the column in their appeal against the July decision argued that the column was a symbol of the Hapsburg domination of the country, which caused the wave of emigration after 1620.

“The revival of the Marian Column would deny the developments of Czech history,” the petition said.

The supporters say the original Marian Column is in honor of the defenders of Prague during the Thirty Years' War and is an important work of Baroque art. According to the petition in favor of replacing it, having the column next to the Jan Hus monument would be a symbol of reconciliation.

Sculptor Petr Váňa has worked on the replica for almost 20 years. It is a sandstone copy of the original.

The base of the statue would have had stairs and a balustrade. The top of the 16-meter column would have had a statue of the Virgin Mary. Four angels for the corners are not yet complete.

The replica was made without funds from the city, and the installation would have been paid for from private funds.

The campaign to replace the statue has been going on since the late 1990s. The city announced in 2013 that it would be restored, but after the city government changed that did not happen.

This is not the only Hapsburg era monument that may be restored. Plans to revitalize Malostranské náměstí call for the statue of Field Marshall Radecký to be returned to the square but there is some opposition to that idea as well.

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