19th-Century Prague Carousel to Spin Again

19th-Century Prague Carousel to Spin Again

When you think of European carousels, the landmark at the foot of the Sacré-Cœur in the Paris district of Montmartre immediately comes to mind.

But the Letná Carousel (Letenský kolotoč) in Prague, built between 1892-1893, predates that structure by some 20 years, making it the oldest surviving floored carousel in Europe.

And possibly the weirdest: the wooden horses on this once-magnificent structure are actually covered with real horse hide and hair.

Photo: National Technical Museum
Photo: National Technical Museum

The hand-cranked carousel originally debuted in Vinohrady but was moved to a carved wooden pavilion in Letná park a year later; the newly constructed tram line delivered curious visitors to this thrilling attraction built for young and old alike.

Closed in 2006 due to disrepair and the theft of its mechanical organ, the carousel was then acquired by the National Technical Museum in Prague which has since waged a lengthy battle to raise funds for its restoration.

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Photo: Letenský kolotoč / Facebook
Photo: Letenský kolotoč / Facebook

According to reports by Novinky.cz and other Czech media outlets, funding has nearly been secured for its restoration which could start as early as this year, meaning that the carousel could be up and running next year after a decade-long hiatus.

To celebrate, the museum gave a tour to patrons and the public last Friday, showing off some of the carousel’s best preserved horses (several cars were added to the mix in the 1930s).

To follow the progress of the renovation or to contribute to the project visit www.letenskykolotoc.cz.

Elizabeth Haas

Elizabeth Haas is the editor of Expats.cz. She has lived in Prague for 12 years working as a writer and editor of cookbooks and travel guides. Her work has appeared in both Czech and American publications.

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