PRAGUE – When visiting the Petřín Tower, we stumbled upon an unusual attraction on the grounds – an antique carousel.
The carousel – with its colorful hand-painted wooden horses, vintage drawings, and intricate decorations covering the walls – made a magical scene out of a fairytale story come to life right in front of our eyes.
Surrounded by fragrant red roses and white linden trees in the beautiful city park that is Petřín Hill, the carousel adds a majestic touch to the place.
Upon seeing the carousel, we whimsically decided to get in line with little kids aged between 4 and 8 to buy a ticket. For 4 euros (about $4 USD), we bought a ticket to heal our inner child with a ride on the carousel.
Afterward, we interviewed the ride operator, 36-year-old David Škvor, who lives in Prague. He talked to us about the carousel, now more than 200 years old, and the Italian family who owns it.
Family member Adriano Degli Innocenti is the guardian of the carousel, caring for it on behalf of his family.
Škvor said that Innocenti has a very special relationship with the carousel, personally choosing to do the repairs and maintenance. He said Innocenti does not let anyone else touch it.
Made by German artisans, this historic carousel has been running for more than 200 years. It is said to have started running in 1793, but the first written evidence of its existence was from 1820.
As a traveling piece, the carousel is constantly moving with its pieces being broken down and rebuilt in each new location. It usually travels across various festivals and events in Italy for most of the year and is displayed in Prague only from June to September.
The summer of 2023 was the third time the carousel operated on Petřín Hill.
Only the base of the construction, the paintings on the top, the boards covering the motor and the tall horses remain from the original structure.
Originally, a live horse between the moveable and unmovable parts provided the energy to move the carousel, but today it turns mechanically. Electric lights are also a modern addition.
Škvor said his employer thought that Prague needed something new and interesting. His wife had connections to Italy and managed to get in touch with Innocenti, according to Škvor, and the owner agreed to lend the carousel.
The ride is somewhat famous. It appeared in the movie Loro, directed by the well-known Italian director Paolo Sorrentino.
The historic ride has been passed down through generations, making the owning family one of the oldest carousel lineages in Italy.
There have been many attempts to buy the carousel – including from the Shah of Persia in the 1950s – but all were unsuccessful, according to the family website.
The ride was restored in 1974 and spent five years at Gardaland amusement park in Italy, but the Innocenti family is determined to keep it and turned down Gardaland’s offer to buy the ride.
Experiencing such a historical carousel felt like we were part of its special history and family heirloom.
The family has rejected every offer. Based on the will left by the original owner, the carousel is to always stay within the family and the guardians strive to honor this wish, according to Innocenti’s website.
While this carousel was an unexpected find, we were lucky to have been able to catch a glimpse of its beauty during Youth Journalism International’s memorable Global Conference in Prague.
Viktorie Goldmannová is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Czechia. She did the interview in Czech and translated it to English. She wrote the story with her colleagues and contributed photos.
Usraat Fahmidah is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is a co-author of the story.
Lyat Melese is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International from Virginia, U.S.A. She is a co-author of the story and contributed photos.
Anjola Fashawe is a Senior Reporter from London. She contributed photos.