Císařský Ostrov’s Trojan horse


If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise… A walk around Prague’s scenic Císařský Ostrov will lead you to a gigantic replica Trojan horse, made and inhabited by Czech sculptor Ivan Nacvalač. The horse is home to a gallery, and since it opened in July, the site has played host to a number of impromptu concerts, and a summer full of barbecues open to all. I paid it a visit and asked Mr Nacvalač how it came about:

“First I made a picture of it and then I thought it would be a good idea to actually build it here. So then I decided with my son and with my friend, and together we did it.”

And why? I know this part of town is called Troja, or Troy, but was that the only reason you decided to built a 15-foot-high horse?

“No, it wasn’t the only reason. I think the main reason was that I wanted to make a gallery and a small part of land for the people who come here to visit such a lovely area.”

So how long did it take you to make this massive structure which we have in front of us? It looks like quite a lot of work…

“You know, it might look like that, but it took us just three months to build the horse.”

I see it’s got wheels, does that mean you can push it about? Is it a mobile horse?

“No, no, no. That’s just for decoration. And so that I can tell people that really it is a moveable horse.”

In the Greek myth it was filled with warriors, but yours is filled with pictures, shall we go and have a look?

“Yes, sure, let’s go.”

So is this just a temporary exhibition?

“I have already changed the things in here several times, but I think the most important exhibition was the first one I put on here. We had here some very nice pictures of this area from 100 years ago, to remind people how it looked.”

But we don’t just have photographs though, we seem to have a piano, and a turtle, and a big stump of wood in the middle of this room – can you tell me what all of these things are doing here?

“The piano – there is a story there. Because you know I sent a picture of this horse to Norah Jones. Because when we built the horse, we played her music here all the time. So I sent her a picture just to say thanks, and tell her that she was there with us throughout the construction. And I got a very nice letter back from her. She wrote that she loves the Czech Republic and Czech people and that one day she will come and play here. And that very same day an old lady gave us this piano. So, the piano is very good.”