Skate Spot Porn: Prague’s Stalin Plaza

Fall 2018 marks ten years since Billy Rohan rescued those slabs of marble from Albany’s defunct Shelter Skatepark, with which he would go on to create the best iteration of 12th & A that there ever was. Through the spring of 2013, 12th Street became a rare place to skate straight, stone ledges in lower Manhattan without having to worry about a kick-out. I remember Billy being in awe of how he and Curtis Rapp pulled off this marble heist and installation without a hitch: “This spot is perfect — it feels like Stalin Plaza, except instead of marble ground, I have to settle for a basketball court.”

I also remember that when we were doing the interview for this old segment about the Chapman Skateboards archive, Gregg mentioned how Billy equated their patented technology for a “performance tip” (a piece of special plastic at the nose and tail of a board that kept your pop crisper for longer) to be like skating on Stalin Plaza ground at all times.

Apart from Billy’s anecdotal obsession with Stalin Plaza, I have wanted to go there since Harsh Euro Barge came out. It looked the right amount of different from any other European holy grail spot; something stood out about those arbitrary pieces of marble stacked on flawless ground, with a precision applied to the spacing between each one. How were these piles of beautifully sliced rocks left alone in a building-less abyss?

Most people who came to Love Park for the first time were surprised by how small it was. Any skate tourist is typically disappointed by how much of a shitshow MACBA is, or how bashed to dirt the ground at Le Dome was. Your imagination fills the gaps between skate videos and reality, oftentimes letting you down after dreaming of a spot for years and years.

On our first night, we all pushed around Stalin after dinner, about 45 minutes before the sun was going to set. Two minutes in, I remember telling Hjalte, “Wow, this place is even better than I expected.”

“Yeah, I was preparing to be at least a little disappointed,” he said, acknowledging how he too, had been managing his expectations.

The spot is at the pedestal of what was once the world’s largest Joseph Stalin monument. Construction began in 1949, with it ultimately being unveiled in 1955 (the designer of the monument committed suicide right before completion), only to be demolished by the Czech government with 800 kilograms of explosives in 1962. The space would become a pirate radio station after the fall of communism in the early nineties, in addition to the location of Prague’s first-ever rock club, all while keeping the name of the twentieth century’s second most notorious psychopath. (The park’s official name is Letna Park, but apparently, nobody calls it that.) It is hard to find info on exactly when skaters pried the loose marble slabs out of the stairs and created ledges, but it can’t be much later than around then.

For a sixty-year-old park with almost three decades of skate history on its corners, Stalin Plaza is in AMAZING condition. For one, the locals take care of it. All the modern names synonymous with the spot — your Roman Lisivkas, your Marek Zapraznys, other guys you’ll recognize depending on how deep of a dive you’ve done into the @stalinplaza account on Instagram — show up later in the day when the heat dies down, sweep the spot, and do general maintenance before they begin skating.

Prague as a city is also not a premier European skate getaway. Are there other spots? “Yeah, if you have a car” — but the general consensus via small talk with the locals is that it’s the only good street spot. Even if you are already in Europe, it makes sense how airfare to a place with more than one spot would be ideal when you have a week off from work.

So that’s where they come from…

The flip side of that is perhaps the most beautiful feature of Stalin Plaza altogether. (Let’s not forget the free WiFi though.) There is something refreshing about being in another world simply to skate one spot. Life in 2018 is a constant quest for the next new thing: the next new video part, the next new song, the next new human you swipe right on. Foreign skate trips too often devolve into a checklist of spots you have to hit. We could be skating somewhere that quite literally has no equivalent on our home continent of North America, and someone will still ask, “ok, where to next?” It sounds corny, but being in a foreign place with your friends, skating without some law-and-order-loving citizen telling you that he is calling the cops is special enough. Sometimes, it is about enjoying that rare moment over what possibility of unseen marble awaits down the street.

Skating in Prague is like eating at a restaurant with only one thing on the menu, except the chef is really fucking good at making that one thing. If I was going to depart this earth tomorrow and had the chance to skate any one last spot for an hour before I left — sorry Tompkins* — but this would be it.

*Because knowing how things go at Tompkins, the second that the hour started, some softball players from the district attourney’s office would walk in saying they have that hour permitted for their game.

A post shared by Quartersnacks (@quartersnacks) on

Past QS Travelouges: Pietrasanta Skate Plaza, Yume Farm, Vieques, Copenhagen, San Juan, Tempelhof, Shenzhen, Barcelona

7 Comments

  1. Have wanted to go here pretty much as long as I’ve been skating and this is making me more mad I still haven’t bit the bullet on the ticket price. I think the other thing stopping people from the US is how gnarly of a flight it is over flying directly to Barcelona or Milan or whatever. You have to already be in Europe to go here and not go broke pretty much.

  2. Prague is super cheap in general so hopefully that provides Americans with greater incentive to check it out for. Beautiful spot, cheap beer, and bars that sell bud low key. What’s not to like?

  3. There aren’t many famous spots left that have a welcoming local scene when you rock up 20 deep – thankfully this is still one of them!

  4. Great article. How would you say this compares to Milan Central Plaza? I visited a year ago and it was hands-down the best plaza I’ve skated.

  5. I, Milano Centrale, can confirm that Stalin Plaza has better ground but doesn’t offer much interaction with the rest of the city. As a station, city interaction is very important.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *