Havel Place Urban Furniture with a Mission

Two chairs next to a table under a tree is an eye-catcher on Maltézské námesti (Malta Square) in the Mala Strana district of Prague. If you look closer you will see that the table is connected directly to the chairs and that the tree grows through the centre of the table. If you look even closer, you will see that the chairs are slightly face each other, but are not opposite each other. This work of art is Havel’s Place and the table and chairs are more than simply pieces of urban furniture; they symbolize Havel’s ever-lasting impact on the world.

Havel’s Place Public Art

Havel’s Place is a public art project consisting of a series of memorial sites dedicated to the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. The works of art consist of two garden chairs and a round table, usually with a tree in the middle of the table. On the edge of the table is a quote from Havel ‘truth and love will triumph over lies and hatred’.

Locations of Havel Chair and Table in Prague

In addition to the work of art on the Maltézské námesti, there are five other table and chairs in Prague.

1. In Horní Počernice, a suburb of Prague. Unveiled on 18 May 2017, the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Havel’s play the Beggar’s Opera, Opera Zebracka, satirical adaptation of the well-known eighteenth-century work of the same name by John Gay.
Address, Horni Počernice theater, Votuzska 11, Horni Počernice, Praag

2. In Suchdol at the Česká Zemědĕlska Univerzita (Czech University of Life Sciences) in Kamýcka 129, Praha -Suchdol.

3. In the Sady Husitske Revoluce Park in the Čakovice district

4. On Smetanovo nabrezi with a beautiful view of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. The location was chosen because Slavia, Havel’s favorite café, is located on this quay.

5. In the Nove Butovice district on Bucharova Street.

Havel’s Place: a Global Art Project

Havel’s Place Art Project is managed by the Václav Havel Library in Prague. The aim is to create a network in public spaces that can contribute to meetings and dialogue – places for discussions that reflect the ideals and philosophy of Václav Havel.

Havel’s Place in Lisbon has been located in the Jardim do Príncipe Real park since 22 June 2022.

Havel’s Place in The Hague at Lange Voorhout opposite Theater Diligentia since 9 November 2014.

Tribute to a Visionary Leader

 

Shortly after President Václav Havel’s death in 2011, the Czech ambassador to the US, Petr Gandalovič, came up with the idea of creating works of art in memory of Václav Havel. He approached Bořek Šípek, former chief architect of Prague Castle and a good friend of Havel’s. The aim was to create places in public spaces where people could meet, discuss and reflect.

The first table and chair was installed in Washington in 2013. Today, there are 49 of these meeting places, 30 of which are in the Czech Republic and 19 in the following cities: Paris, Hiroshima, Athens, Brussels, Lima, Bratislava, Milan, Geneva, Košice, Ljubljana, Lisbon, Tel Aviv, Portland, Oxford, The Hague, Venice, Barcelona, Dublin and Washington.

Havel’s Place: tables made to measure

The bespoke table will be replaced when the tree is outgrowing the opening in which it is placed.

Who was Vaclav Havel?

Vaclav Havel (1936-2011) was an influential Czech dissident, playwright and the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. He played a leading role in overthrowing the communist regime in Czechoslovakia during the Velvet Revolution of 1989.

As a writer, Havel was known for his satirical and critical plays, such as ‘The Garden Party’ Zahradní slavnost, (1963) and ‘The Memorandum’ Vyrozumění, (1965), which often ridiculed political systems. His involvement in dissident activities led to imprisonment, but his determination to promote freedom and democracy made him a symbol of resistance.

After the Velvet Revolution, Havel was elected president, where he committed himself to human rights and democratic values. However, his presidency faced challenges, including the 1993 partition of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Havel’s legacy extends far beyond his political career; he was an intellectual and a proponent of moral responsibility. His life and work remind us that individuals, even in the most difficult circumstances, can make a difference in the fight for freedom and justice.

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photos Marianne Crone

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