Before my first visit to Prague a couple of years ago, I’d read about something called a Paternoster elevator … an old-timey, hop on/hop off elevator that never stops. A quick Googling revealed that there was one at Prague’s YMCA on Na Poříčí, so I went on a mission to check it out. Once I saw it in person, I was like: hell no!!!  

But, this time, on my return visit to Prague, I decided to take a deep breath and go for a spin.

Here’s the what the Paternoster looks like from a (safe) distance:

Here’s what Wiki has to say about these elevators:

The construction of new paternosters was stopped in the mid-1970s due to safety concerns…

(Me: What?!?!?!?!?!!?)

…but public sentiment has kept many of the remaining examples open. By far most remaining paternosters are in Western Europe, with perhaps 230 examples in Germany, and 68 in the Czech Republic. Only two have been identified by hobbyists outside Europe: one in Malaysia, another in Peru.

Turns out, I love riding the Paternoster! I also loved the staff at the Na Poříčí YMCA. The first time I stopped by, the Paternoster was closed (apparently it only operates on weekdays). I asked the man at the front desk when it was normally open and if it was okay for me to take a ride. He said why not? with a big smile and sweeping arm gesture. When I returned a couple of days later, a different staff person was there, and she was equally welcoming and totally cool with me taking pictures and hopping on board.

That same YMCA also has a modern elevator next to the Paternoster. When I was getting ready to board, there was a man about to get on the “normal” elevator. He saw me recording the Paternoster, and we shared a laugh and brief chat.  A short while later, when I was hopping off, I could see that HE had boarded the Paternoster too with HIS camera. Between him, me, and the YMCA front desk folks, we were all having a great time, Paternoster-style!

Anyway, time to go for a ride. As I’d mentioned before, the Paternoster never stops. If you watch the video ’til the end, you’ll see how it works.

All aboard!