Video Salutes Prague’s Beloved Paternosters

Named from the Latin words for Our Father because of their resemblance to rosary beads as their cabins run in a continuous loop along parallel shafts, Paternosters originated in 19th-century England and became common across Europe. As technology advanced and safety and accessibility concerns arose, production stopped in the 1970s. Most remaining examples are in Europe, with Germany, by far, having the most at approximately 230 and the Czech Republic following with nearly 80, according to Wikipedia. Prague, the Czech capital, is the “undisputed last bastion of the Paternoster” with 28 working conveyances, RadioFreeEurope journalist Neil Bowdler explains in a video in which he takes — with some trepidation — his first-ever Paternoster ride in a system installed at public radio Cesky Rozhla’s headquarters in 1929. Bowler interviews Cesky Rozhla employee and Pasternoster enthusiast David Kabele, who points out that for Czechs, the conveyances symbolize continuity and survival, as many — such as the one featured here — survived both World War II bombings in the 1940s and the Soviet Invasion in 1968. Communism resulted in little money for modernization projects to replace Pasternosters with elevators, and Kabele (who runs a website devoted to them) couldn’t be happier. Check out the video below!