“ Petrin Observation Tower sits on top of Petrin Hill in Prague, offering wonderful views of Prague. „
Whenever I am on holiday I seem to climb up a tall building with lots of windy steep steps just to get a panoramic view of the city. In Florence it was the cathedral dome, Pisa was the Leaning Tower and I've bean up countless bell towers in Belgium. My recent trip to Prague was no different and we had a fine selection to choose from. We could have scaled the heights of the Astronomical clock Tower in the Old Town Suare, the Charles Bridge towers or the soaring tower of St Vitus Cathedral but settled on the Petřínská Rozhledna, Petrin Hill Observation Tower which is Prague's answer to the Eiffel Tower.
Petrin Observation Tower crowns the summit of Petrin Hill a pleasant wooded area adjacent to the Mala strata and the castle area of Prague on the left bank of the Vltava River. The foot of the hill is easily accessed from Prague's extensive tram network. You can scale the 327 metres to the top of Petrin Hill either by foot if you are feeling fit and have your sensible shoes on or by the funicular railway that climbs the side of Petrin Hill. We chose he latter to conserve our energy for climbing up the observation tower. What really impressed me about the funicular railway was its inclusion in Prague's public transport system. Tram tickets and season tickets are all valid on the railway making it ultra reasonable for a route so popular with tourists. It would be so easy to take liberties and charge 100 or so Czech Koruna each way. The funicular railway does seem, to be fairly popular. We arrived one June morning (so peal season) about 11 and there was a queue out of the station. Apart from the ridiculously long queue for the cathedral (thus we did not visit there) this was the only queue we encountered in Prague. We waited perhaps five or ten minutes for our train and grabbed a seat in one of the middle carriages. The funicular railway is worth ridding just for the views over the river and the castle area of the city , as the train chugs along its steep climb.The train takes about five minutes to reach its final destination (the is an intermediary stop along the way) .
Once we alighted the train it was a short walk to the observation tower which looms above everything else on the hill's summit. On the way you'll pass by a wall known as the Hunger Wall. This was first built in 1362 as a defense mechanism,. It gets its name because it was built by unemployed famine victims a precursor to modern job creation schemes you could say.
The Petrin Hill Observation Tower is very much a copy cat project. It was built in 1891 two years after its taller more famous French cousin. It looks a bit surreal on the to[p of a hill in Prague rather than in Paris. At 60 metres tall its a lot shorter too. It also has octagonal viewing galleries rather than the Eiffel tower's square ones giving it a slight futuristic look to it. Adolf Hitler was not too impressed with the tower and wanted it pulled down as it obscured his view of Prague Castle. Luckily he did not get his way and the Petrin Hill Observation Tower has survived. In 1953 s a TV mast was added to the very top of the tower to give it a dual purpose.
On arrival we paid our entrance fee of 100 Korunas (roughly £3.75) to climb the 299 steps to the top of the tower. This must be a fairly new charge, as my 2006 Rough Guide to Prague says that the tower is free. It seems to be open daily from 10 in the morning to dusk depending on the season.
There is an elevator for those with disabilities that goes right to the top but for everyoneelse the views from both galleries are accessed by spiral staircases one going up and one going down supposedly. We reached the first level where you can get views from both inside and a platform outdoors. There was also information boards about the history and the specifics of the tower which were interesting to read. After getting the outside view we became a bit disorientated and could not find a sign saying up or down for the staircases so just went up one . This may have been the down stir case, as we did have to let other squeeze past coming down.
The 299 steps may seem a bit tiring especially on the hot day we visited but they are not overly difficult. I think most fairly fit people could attempt the steps. The view from the top is worth the climb. My boyfriend is not the best with heights and almost turned back halfway between th two galleries. Luckily the top one is enclosed with glass windows to get the view. I think an outdoor platform would be a bit scary. The climb took maybe half an hour was worth it due to the magnificent views over the city and beyond.
Petrin Hill is a very pleasant park and it's a great place for families. I would advise taking a picnic and making at least half a day of it. There is plenty of greenery along with play play park and sports facilitates. For the horticulturists there's a very pleasant rose garden and an odd shaped tree!
The other main attraction was a hall of mirrors which we did not bother visiting as it did not appeal to us.
I really enjoyed the ride up the funicular railway and my climb to he top of Petrin Hill Observation Tower. Its a great place to get great views and a nice way to get some greenery in the heart of the city.
Petrin Hill & Observation Tower
Lesser Town, Prague 5
Czech Republic Tel: 00420 257 320 112
Petrin is a hill in the centre of Prague, and it takes some climbing to get to the top! It rises 130m above the left bank of the Vltava River and its covered in parks, making a great site for a lovely walk, and it's a favoured recreational area for the people of Prague.
You can see the hill from Charles Bridge and on the top of Petrin Hill in Prague you may notice an Eiffell Tower like tower at the very top. This is the Petrin Hill Observation Tower. It's a 60 metre tower which is much smaller than the Eiffel Tower, however as it's on the top of Petrin Hill it does have almost the same altitude as it's French lookalike. It was built in 1891 and was used as not only an observation tower, but also as a transmission tower. Today though this tower is a good tourist attraction as it offers spectacular views of Prague as despite it only being 60m high, it's setting on the top of the hill does give it extra dizzying height. On a clear day it is possible to see the highest peak in the Czech Republic, Snezka, which is 150km from the tower.
**Petrin Hill Observation Tower **
To get to this tower you can either climb up Petrin Hill, or take the Funicular Railway. Now I should point out climbing Petrin Hill is so easy task, indeed we walked back down it and it's quite steep in parts, and it was tiring enough walking back down it never mind up! The Funicular railway is easy to use, linking the Mala Strana district to the top of the hill. It has 3 stops, Ujezd (bottom of the hill), Nebozízek (the middle station) and Petrin (top of the hill). You can board at Ujezd and you need to get off at Petrín to get to the tower.
Nearby the tower there is a lovely rose garden and other gardens to walk through. It's a very pretty place, and as we visited on a wet and miserable day, there were barely any other people around and it made for a very nice relaxing walk. I can imagine it being rather busy on a hot summer's day, as it makes for a nice day out.
At the base of the tower there is a small gift shop and cafe, as well as the payment booth. I do believe there is a lift for disabled customers to go up the tower; otherwise it's a case of walking up the winding wooden stairs. This isn't for the light-hearted as there are 299 steps to reach the viewing platform going round and round the tower...
**The dizzying climb... **
The day I visited Prague it was a wet and windy day. The stairs are on the outside of the tower and to be honest I did start to feel quite sick as I was climbing, constantly going round and round this narrow staircase... Thankfully every now and then there was a wooden bench to sit and rest on, and catch your breath... but don't look down if you're not one for heights until you reach the platform!
As you climb you come to the first level viewing platform. The tower offers impressive 360'c views of Prague, you can clearly make out the castle, Charles Bridge and the Church of Our Lady before Týn (my favourite building in Prague located in the Old Town Square). Despite it being a miserable grey and cloudy day, we had a good view and could see buildings for miles. This platform was sort of outside the tower, and with it being a very windy and cold day we decided after having a good rest it was time to continue our climb up the tower.
I should point out now that there is a staircase to go down, and a staircase to go up. You should make sure you choose the correct staircase as they are quite narrow and you don't want to have to squeeze past disgruntled visitors if you choose the wrong one. We did encounter people using the wrong staircase so it was annoying having to squeeze past people using the wrong one, despite them being marked out at the start of them which way to go!
It's not long before I reached the top of the tower, however after all that climbing on this wet and windy day I was feeling quite sick! The top platform is indoors with windows that open so you can take photo's. I really did feel as high as I was on the Eiffel Tower... but this didn't feel as 'study' a building with it's wooden winding staircase, making me feel rather queasy. It's certainly not something anyone who is scared of heights should visit!
After enjoying the amazing views and taking the obligatory photos, it was time to climb all the way back down again. Looking down and going round and round and round... yes I was very glad to reach the bottom of this tower!
I would recommend giving this one a go, whether you climb up Petrin Hill (tiring!) or cheat and ride the Funicular Railway, you do get some amazing views of Prague. However if heights arent for you, then you can still enjoy some nice views of Prague from Petrin Hill without the dizzying staircase.
Opening times for the tower:
Jan-Mar: Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00
Apr: Daily 10:00-19:00
May-Aug: Daily 10:00-22:00
Sep: Daily 10:00-22:00
Oct: Daily 10:00-18:00
Nov-Dec: Sat-Sun + Christmas holidays 10:00-17:00
There is a lift to the top for elderly & disabled visitors, and it has wheelchair access.
Petrin Hill & Observation Tower
Mala Strana, Prague 5
Tel: 00420 257 320 112
Petrin Observation Tower sits on top of Petrin Hill in Prague, offering wonderful views of Prague.