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Spotlight on Prague: Paternoster Elevators

  • 29/04/2019
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  • Posted by Suzanne

There are many things to see if Prague where we will be for our 27th EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference and we have created a handy Top Things to do in Prague to help you fill your spare time pre and post conference.

There are so many highlights it is difficult to share all in one post and we like to give a few lesser known tips too!

Did you know? 

The Czech Republic is one of the few countries in the world to still have working paternoster elevators! A paternoster elevator has no doors and moves continually without stopping at floor level. You simply hop in a compartment and, on reaching your required floor, you just hop off.

There are approximately seventy known paternoster lifts in the Czech Republic and half of these are in Prague. Once popularly used in government buildings and shops in Germany and Eastern Europe, these unusual elevators captured the imagination of many visitors, writers and filmmakers who then featured the contraptions in their work.

Invented in the 1860s by Peter Ellis, an architect from Liverpool, England, the elevators derive their name from the configuration of the compartments that move slowly up and down in an infinite loop said to resemble how a person might move rosary beads through their hands as they pray. Paternoster is the Latin for “Our Father,” which are the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer…. On a lighter note, these two words are commonly said to be heard being said by some people today as they jump on and off hoping they don’t fall!

If you have a fear of escalators, an elevator with no door that doesn’t stop or slow down might sound like a nightmare, but these elevators were once common in many parts of Europe. Disclaimer before you try them! The paternoster lifts are today a dying breed after safety norms banned their construction!! In spite of their potential hazards, they are frequently viewed with a sense of nostalgia, and have become the object of protection and restoration projects.

If you are feeling brave this November, head to Prague City Hall where the government recently re-opened a paternoster elevator following a three-month overhaul, resulting in a new look which is meant to commemorate the historic elements of the building. The City Hall is a splendid example of Art Nouveau architecture and their refurbished paternoster elevator was designed by John Prokopec in the early 20th century and consists of twelve compartments. The reconstruction included all compartments, wiring, safety, security, and the lift machine room, costing the municipality more than 3.5 million CZK.

Remember – Don’t go over the top!!!

*Please note these elevators are not accessible to people with disabilities – you have to be fairly quick on the mark to jump in and jump off!

See the 2019 EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference Programme



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I’m part of the EuroSTAR Community Team. I love the outdoors and will always be up for swimming in the sea, climbing a mountain or yoga on the beach! If you see me at the EuroSTAR Conference I might be helping our keynote speakers or taking photos to share on social media. Do say hi and we can talk sci-fi or baking .. the choice is yours!

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