Prague 6 unveils controversial statue of Empress Maria Theresa

The Prague district welcomed the new statue of the Hapsburg Empress, in the shape of a board game piece, at a ceremony this morning


Written by ČTK Published on 20.10.2020 15:07:00 (updated on 22.10.2020) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) - The first statue of Habsburg Empress and Czech Queen Maria Theresa (1717-1780, ruling from 1740) in the Czech Republic was unveiled in a park bearing her name in Prague 6 today.

The district paid about 3.6 million crowns for the monument to its author, sculptor Jan Kovařík.

Since this morning, people have also been able to view a digital presentation about the statue on the district website, which also includes information about Empress Maria Theresa, Prague 6 Deputy Mayor Jakub Stárek (Civic Democrats ODS) said.

The date of the unveiling, October 20, was chosen intentionally. It was this day in 1740 when Maria Theresa assumed the Austrian throne as the only woman to rule the Habsburg Monarchy, Prague 6 Deputy Mayor Jan Lacina (Mayors and Independents, STAN) said.

The Czech Lands were part of the Habsburg Monarchy until 1918.

The shape of the statue, created by Kovařík along with architect Jan Proksa, resembles a peg from a popular board game that originated in Germany under the name Mensch ärgere Dich nicht! (Man, Don't Get Angry!); the Czech version is called Člověče, nezlob se!, which translates the same. The game is derived from the classic Indian game Pachisi, which has popular English derivations like Ludo and Sorry!

The empress's statue stands on a plinth made of lightweight concrete. The 5.5-meter monument weighs a total of six tons.

The Prague 6 municipality has planned the monument since 2013, when it announced a contest for it. The winner was chosen in the spring of 2014. However, the project was delayed due to local elections the same year.

In 2016, several hundred people protested against the building of the monument, criticizing its location in a park where anti-Nazi resistance fighter Václav Morávek was killed in 1942.

Opponents to the statue raised similar objections in 2019 after Prague 6 signed a contract with Kovařík. On the contrary, the Czech Crown monarchist party supported the town hall's plan.

Under the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, state administration, military and school system reforms were implemented. In 1774, she issued the general school order introducing obligatory elementary school attendance for all boys and girls in the monarchy. Her son, Emperor Joseph II (1780-90), continued in the Enlightenment reforms.

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