The renovation of the Letná Carousel, a unique historical monument managed by the National Technical Museum and one of the two oldest surviving floor carousels in Europe, has been completed. The reconstruction cost just under CZK 23 million.
To the day, it is 128 years since its installation in the neighborhood of Letenský zámek. It used to stand in Královské Vinohrady.
Since 2014, it has been owned by the National Technical Museum, which bought it in an almost desolate condition. In the same year, it was renovated, and the last time children could ride the model horses was in 2006. So it served for more than a hundred years. It was built in 1892.
“I am thrilled that a precious historical monument of Prague 7 on Letná from the end of the 19th century, the iconic Letná Carousel, has been repaired after a great and costly effort and will bring joy to children and adults alike,” Karel Ksandr, director of the National Technical Museum, said.
“My efforts to save the carousel began more than 30 years ago, so I am very pleased that the carousel will finally take a spin on 11 July 2022,” he added.
The carousel was ridden by 19 horses of various sizes covered in genuine horsehide without joints, stuffed with straw, and with glass eyes. The original saddles and bridles survive only on four horses named Poly, Flora, Lightning, and Shemik.
An exciting feature of the interior is the column of the central turntable, which was decorated with three knights in papier-mâché armor painted in silver.
In 2004, the National Technical Museum purchased this monument in critical condition with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.
In 2014, thanks to the cooperation of the National Technical Museum and the Prague 7 Municipal District, an initiative to save the carousel and put it into operation was launched, and a public collection was announced.
According to the contractor Jiří Kmošek, the reconstruction was very demanding.
“We had to repair not only the structure itself, but also the technical background, the drive, the bearings, that is, the bulky pulleys, the turntable as such, and get the monument up and running.
And all this while ensuring the authenticity and originality of the materials used,” Kmošek said.
The carousel will be available to the public from 12 July. After that, every day until the end of the week from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 pm. In the following weeks, it will run from Friday to Sunday and on public holidays.
Ksander said it is not possible to operate the carousel daily because it is an immovable cultural monument.
The capacity of the horses is 100 kilograms, so even adults can ride them. The horses are for children aged two and above and should be supervised by parents until the age of ten. A five-minute ride will cost 80 crowns.