Jan Palach Square
Jan Palach Square (Náměstí Jana Palacha) is literally the intellectual centre of Prague, hemmed in on three sides by important cultural institutions: the Rudolfinum art gallery and concert hall, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, and first and foremost the Arts Faculty of Charles University. The Prague Castle looks on from a distance from the other bank of the river Vltava.
A bust of Jan Palach is located beside the entrance to one of the world’s oldest universities. Though he died in 1969, the bronze death mask of one of the Arts Faculty’s most famous students was installed here a year after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Sculptor Olbram Zoubek took the plaster cast from which it was made on the day of Palach’s death.
The scene in which students place the plaster mask on the facade of the faculty corresponded exactly to reality. Olbram Zoubek first took the mask to the spot on Wenceslas Square where Palach had set himself alight. It then journeyed to his memorial service before appearing at the faculty. A memorial service is held on Jan Palach Square every year on the anniversary of his death.