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Prague, Czechia

Memento Mori: 'Of One's Own Volition'

A controversial artwork draws attention to the dark history of Prague's "Suicide Bridge." 

Engineers tested the strength of Prague’s Nusle Bridge by parking 66 Soviet tanks along its edges, but they failed to consider the melancholic weight the concrete structure would come to take on.

Architects Vojtech Michalek, Stanislav Hubicka, and Svatopluk Kobr designed the bridge in the mid ’60s and construction was completed in February 1973. Its slanted columns rise up and taper where they meet the structure. Hubicka, who was only 30 years old when he started the project, based them on tree branches, an effort to soften the appearance of the grey behemoth.

But the bridge is most well known for the number of suicides it’s facilitated in its short history, earning its nickname, Suicide Bridge. No one has kept track of the count, but official statistics place the toll somewhere between 200 and 300 deaths.

Beneath the bridge, in Folimanka Park, a controversial installation by Czech artist Krištof Kintera debuted in 2011. A lone street light curves and shines its light upwards towards the hulking concrete structure looming 140 feet above the Nusle valley. Dubbed Memento Mori: ‘Of One’s Own Volitinon’ (in Czech, “Z vlastního rozhodnutí”), the work features a simple plaque that reads “In memory of all those who who took their own life in this place.”

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