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The Petrin Lookout Tower

The Petrin Lookout Tower is 63,5 metres high and it is one of the most famous dominant features of Prague. Its base is situated in altitude 324 metres on the peak of the hill Petrin.

History

In 1889, members of the Club of Czech tourists visited the World Exhibition in Paris and they were impressed by very famous Eiffel tower. They decided to create a similar dominat feature in Prague. They founded The Co-operative for the Construction of the Petrin Lookout Tower, they put money into it and they received the estate from the Municipality. In 1890, the project started to be prepared, the main architect of the lookout tower was Vratilav Pasovsky and the authors of the construction were Frantisek Prasil and Julius Soucek.

The Lookout Tower was built for the Land´s Jubilee exhibition in 1891 on impulse of the founders of the Club of Czech Tourists, dr. Vilem Kurz and Vratislav Pasovsky. The Lookout Tower is  a copy of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

In January 1890, dr. Vilem Kurz published an article „The Lookout Tower on Petrin, the picture of the Near Future of Prague“ – by that article, the public realised that there will be a lookout tower on Petrin. The construction works lasted from 16th March to 20th August 1891 – that day, the Lookout Tower was opened to public. The foundations are in depth of 11 metres and on them, there is a 63,5 metres high steel construction that weighs 175 tones. In the core of the construction, there is an octangonal tubus in what the lift is placed. Around the tubus, there are two spiral starcases with 299 steps – one for the walk up to the lookout tower and one for the way down. On the Lookout Tower, there are two terraces, the higher one is situated in 55 metres.
5th July 1938 was the day of the fire. The fire was caused probably by a short circuit in the elevator´s cabine. Almost 100 visitors of the Lookout Tower were evacuated. The fire-fighting was very difficult, but finally the firemen managed it to extinguish the fire. The reconstruction of the Lookout Tower ended in the first half of August 1938 and it was opened to public as well.

During the Nazi occupation of Prague, Adolf Hitler wished that the Petrin Lookout Tower was knocked down, because of the bad view from the Prague Castle. Fortunately, his wish wasn´t fulfilled.

In the beginning of May 1953, the transmitter was activated at the top of the Lookout Tower. In that time, the tubus of the lift was used as a place for hiding the cables, so the lift was no longer used. In 60s of 20th century, the other transmitters were placed at the top, the transmitters for TV and for radio. In September 1979, the Lookout Tower was closed because of its bad technical conditions. After the necessary reconstructions, the Lookout Tower was re-opened in May 1991. In 1992, the TV transmitters were taken down, so nowadays, there is only a radio transmitter. In 1998, the Lookout Tower went under administration of the Prague Information Service and the general reconstruction started the next year. The Lookout Tower is opened again from 24th March 2002.

After taking down the TV transmitter, the tubus was free again, so the lift was reconstructed and the new one is used from 2001. Its capacity is 6 people and it is possible to use only in company of a employee. The Lookout Tower may now be visited by people on wheel chairs as well. In the reconstructed basements, you will find the entry hall, the restaurant and the exhibition spaces.

Except from the panorama of Prague including the Prague Castle, you may see the beautiful lands of Bohemia.

Source: The expert employees of the Museum of Capital City Prague.

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