Monumental golden wings return to Prague’s main train station

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

After a nearly year-long renovation, the monumental golden wings, gracing the Art Nouveau building of Prague’s main train station, are back in their place. The restoration of the sculpture, gilded with 24-karat gold plates, is part of a major facelift of the historical Fanta building. 

The historical building of Prague’s main train station, together with the adjacent hall above the platform, forms the largest Art Nouveau monument in the Czech Republic.

It was designed by the renowned Czech architect Josef Fanta, who was inspired by the North Station in Paris. Construction of the new Art Nouveau building got underway in June 1901 and was completed eight years later.

The building had a grand Art Nouveau entrance and ticket hall completed with a decorated ceiling dome, which today houses the well-known Fanta Café. The interiors were decorated by sculptors Stanislav Sucharda and Ladislav Šaloun.

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

Unfortunately, the building had been falling into disrepair since the 1970s, when a massive highway was built directly in front of it and a new departure hall designed.

Now, the famous Art Nouveau structure is slowly regaining its former glory, with the huge gilded wings once again decorating its roof.

Their renovation was originally supposed to take place on the roof but due to their poor state, they had to be taken down.

Renovator David Ritschel:

“The wings were made in the 19th century, during the construction of the Main Train Station building. Together they create a wheeled wing, which is the symbol of Czech Railways.”

The wings are made of copper and each weighs around 250 kilos. They were brought to the top of the dome, some 40 metres above the ground, by a crane. David Ritschel continues:

“Each of the wings has two stems, which were fitted into the openings in the remaining part of the statue. The stonemasons then poured a special mixture into the holes, securing the metal firmly into the stone.”

At the moment, the Fanta building is still covered in scaffolding, so the wings can only be seen from higher up, such as from Vítkov Hill or Prague Castle.

Photo: ČTK/Vít Šimánek

The reconstruction of the façade and the roof of the building should be finished in June this year. It will be followed by a complex renovation of the interior, says Ondřej Göpfert from the Railway Administration:

“The reconstruction of the interior will take place in two phases. We have just launched a tender for the contractor.

“During the first phase, the historical halls will be reconstructed, and the place will be fitted with escalators. The reconstruction of the remaining premises will be completed in the next phase.”

If everything goes according to plan, the Fanta building should be fully reconstructed by the end of 2023.

After it is completed, the now inaccessible spaces on the ground floor should once again open to the public.

The historical column hall will serve as a VIP waiting room, while the large hall will become a multifunctional space for cultural and social events.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Markéta Šulejová
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