February 10, 2012
Some say Prague is the most haunted city in Europe. Our Account Manager, Steph Reed, certainly thinks so.
On a recent solo trip to Prague, as the night sky arrived and the winter chill started to hurt my face, I was encouraged to head indoors to a cosy museum.
As I went on a museum hunt, little did I know I was about to have one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was lured into the Artbanka Museum of Young Art (AMoYA) because of its attention-grabbing exhibit – Guns, by David Cerby – free for all to see on arrival. The gigantic guns were showcased in the World Trade Centre’s Twin Towers in New York in 1994 and the gun points alternate between producing three incredibly loud sounds: banging, the flushing of a toilet or howling brakes. Lovely.
I immediately bought a ticket. I would go on to witness a range of contemporary art – a lot of it rather provocative and bordering on shocking; some just plain frightening. But the museum’s unique building definitely left a lasting impression – reinforced by the intense artwork and its horrifying audio.
AMoYA is housed in the formerly grand, but now terribly run-down, Colleredo-Mandfeld Palace. A victim of the communist era, the palace has been left to deteriorate badly, with some beautiful features pointlessly torn down. It was fascinating but wandering around it – pretty much on my own – was the first time I’ve ever truly felt I was experiencing haunted surroundings. The air was bitterly cold and shadows seemed to appear in the poorly-lit rooms. The artwork contributed to my growing nerves – think fake dead bodies laid under a rug, a room filled with dolls that had missing heads and a rocking horse tilting back and forth.
The fear I felt reminded me of the Pasaje Del Terror in Blackpool– an extreme, haunted-house theme-park attraction where actors in masks chase you through the dark. Without fail, it always ends with even the most brave visitors sprinting out of the exit screaming (watch reactions here to see for yourself). With visions of a ghostly figure about to appear to chase me out of AMoYA and the sound of yet another loud toilet flush coming from the guns outside, I tried my very best not to exit Colleredo-Mandfeld Palace in a similar style.
Blackpool memories aside, with many historical buildings across Prague beautifully restored after the fall of Communism, a visit to Colleredo-Mandfeld Palace offers a fascinating and chilling insight into the destruction of buildings, not to mention many of their inhabitants, during this period. It’s definitely worth a visit if you ever go to Prague: just make sure you go in a group, in daylight, and do some deep breathing!