Czech TV tower loses its babies

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

image copyrightCeska Televize
image captionNow teenagers, the ten babies are being removed for a health check

The tallest building in the Czech capital Prague will be without its landmark babies for the first time in sixteen years.

Then ten fibreglass babies, which went some way to improve the public's perception of the Zizkov TV tower - once dubbed the second ugliest building in the world - are now well into their teens and are being removed for cleaning and structural checks, Radio Prague reports.

They were added by Czech artist David Cerny in the year 2000, and have become - until now - permanent exhibits on the 216m (708 ft) tower, once known to locals as "Jakes' Finger" after Milos Jakes, the final leader of communist Czechoslovakia.

Built toward the end of the communist regime, Zizkov Tower was seen by many as an unwelcome reminder of the old government, the website says.

image copyrightAFP
image captionDavid Cerny was briefly arrested in 1991 after defacing the Soviet tank monument in Prague

Locals were also critical that a Jewish cemetery was largely destroyed by the Communist authorities as part of the construction work, while a rumour persisted that it was actually built to jam foreign broadcasts rather than provide clearer signals for the Czechoslovak capital.

The addition of the babies, not to mention a restaurant and a viewing pavilion, have gone some way to soften attitudes to the tower, says.

Pink tank

Mr Cerny shot to fame in 1991 when he painted Prague's Monument to Soviet Tank Crews bright pink.

The tank and its looming pink finger remain on display in the city to this day, albeit in a different location.

According to Czech television, any baby found to be beyond repair will be replaced, and they'll return to the tower next spring.

Ironically, the tower has outlived the website which gave it the unwelcome accolade of the second ugliest in the world. Virtualtourist closed down in February this year.

image copyrightAFP
image captionPrague's Zizkov Tower now boasts a viewing platform and a luxury single-suite hotel
image copyrightAFP
image captionMany Prague citizens have grown to accept the modern brutalist tower

Reporting by Alistair Coleman

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