Comenius and Erasmus Front Door in Prague

In 2007, the building at Mostecka Street 17 in the Mala Strana district in Prague was renovated. Since the co-owner was Dutch, the front door was given a Dutch touch: a bronze door depicting a meeting between the Dutchman Desiderius Erasmus and the Czech Jan Ámos Comenius, both reformers and theologians.

In real life the two could not possibly have met because Comenius was born 56 years after Erasmus’ death. Erasmus’s works were read in translation in the Czech lands and Comenius emigrated to the tolerant Amsterdam where he spent fourteen years. He died in 1670 in Amsterdam, aged 78, but was buried in the town of Naarden, 25 km south-east of Amsterdam.

Two-winged Front Door

The front door has two wings. Comenius (with beard) sits on the left and Erasmus on the right. The room where they sit represents the world. When the two doors are closed the world is united. When the doors are open the world is split into two. The globe on the table also symbolizes the world. Comenius’ hand rests on an open book. The envelope on the table serves as a mailbox that can be opened. A cat is sitting on the floor on the left and a mouse sits on the right. There are books and an unfolded parchment with the name of the artist, Petr Cisarovsky, and the date 2007-2008 he created the door.

The Back of the Door

The back of the door is as interesting as the front. The same room but now with modern furniture and two empty chairs. Instead of the book, there is a mobile phone on the table with the artist’s telephone number on the display.

In the background, a faint image of the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam symbolizes modern Dutch architecture and an image of the Dancing House represents contemporary Czech architecture. There are bits and pieces where the cat sat, and a laptop and computer mouse where the mouse was. The artist’s email address is shown on the screen.

Fifty-seven keys are attached to a notebook in the lower left corner. The artist Petr Cisarovsky was 57 years old in 2007 when he created the door.

Explanatory Plaque

The translation of the Dutch text on a plaque next to the door reads: “Lectori Salutem. This bronze front door depicts a symbolic dialogue between Jan Amos Comenius (1592 – 1670,Czech humanist, educationalist, philosopher) and Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466 – 1536, Dutch humanist and Catholic theologian). The door was designed and forged by Petr Cisarovsky in 2007/8 on the occasion of the restoration of the Mostecka 17/276 building.”

The door of a private building

The door is permanently closed, only when residents enter will it open. It is the entrance door to private apartments, only the sculpture on the door facing the street can be seen by passers-by.

Mostecka street is just behind Charles Bridge on the Mala Strana side. Number 17 is on the left when coming from the bridge.

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Photos courtesy Petr Cisarovsky

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